Ross Jamieson

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Producing innovative television commercials and videos for local businesses in the region is a cost effective exercise for clients of Independent Productions.


What do Coffs Harbour businesses have that metro counterparts don’t have?

Easier access to the most powerful advertising medium there is: television. This month we talk with Ross Jamieson from Independent Productions, who’s helped many businesses make that giant leap onto the small screen.

What happens at Independent Productions?

With my partners Steve Sly and Adam Dennison, we produce television commercials and other video related products for clients.

We are a complete production facility, which means we write copy, work on concepts, do the shoots through to all post production required (editing and graphics), ready for the commercial to be put on-air.

You make it sound very simple, but I’m sure it has its moments?

In fact, it’s easier and more user friendly in some ways than it used to be. We are so fortunate these days to have digital abilities, allowing much greater manipulation of vision and audio, compared to the analogue tape days. It certainly allows for a much better product to be produced for our clients. However, you are right, it still has its moments – mainly technical frustrations.

When was that?

I knew you’d ask me. My first job was in 1974, after Mum saw an advertisement in the Toowoomba Chronicle for a news cameraman.  Fortunately, I got the job and started shooting all over SE Queensland on black and white film. The cameras were quite heavy, and on occasion when the film ran out – and as it could only be changed in a dark environment – there were occasions where people were asked for the use of the boot of their cars. Amusing reactions for me, but bewilderment for the car owners.

After a brief stint in Darwin, I gained employment at Channel 7 in Brisbane as a studio cameraman, working on a lot of very interesting programs. As many young people do, I decided it was time to explore overseas and was fortunate enough to meet my wife Sue while travelling through Europe and Asia. Sue was from Coffs, so it was inevitable that this is where we would settle. It was in 1980 when I was very lucky to secure a job at NRN11 as a Program Coordinator.

What other television stations were around then?

Only the ABC in this area, but aggregation (an unknown term at the time) wasn’t too far away, and with it came changes that were immense for the industry.

What do you mean by aggregation?

That was when the Government decided that the regional and rural areas needed competition, so soon after we saw Seven and Nine signals commence transmission into all the regional areas, which required those networks to build transmission towers at huge expense – as did NRTV into their respective areas as well.

At that stage, NRTV had quite a big community focus, with local programming with kids shows and local sport coverage and news.

But aggregation was to have its effect, and soon NRTV began to look at costs associated with local programming; plus, centralisation was stating to become a key word.

What happened after that?

Eventually, after a few different owners NRTV became part of the Southern Cross stable and programming and other jobs were centralised to Canberra, this inevitably led to redundancies here in Coffs Harbour. Commercial production remained strong, however, and was one department that was maintained for some time.

So how did this pan out?

In May of 2006, redundancy came to the production department, along with the Station Manager John Davis and others. John then formed Independent Productions to service the needs of the local market. This effectively meant that I, along with others in the production department, finished work with Southern Cross on the Friday and commenced with Independent on the Monday. Didn’t miss a beat.

How did you find that?

It wasn’t a bad as you’d think, as the stress levels of managing a department decreased and employment continued. Hours did fluctuate a bit though. In 2010 John moved onto another job, so it was left open for Steve, Adam and myself to purchase the business, continuing our working relationship with SC Ten, plus having freedom to pursue work from other areas. Independent by name, independent by nature. I’ve been in the industry a long time, so it seems odd to think of May being my first anniversary, of sorts.

It sounds very simple to make a TV ad, but it’s actually quite involved, isn’t it?

You’re right. It can seem simple, but making sure that the words and concept carry through to the editing stage can be challenging, but, very rewarding. Clients do have some very clear ideas about promoting their business, but to ensure you deliver a clear, concise message within a visually appealing capsule is the challenge – especially within a 15 or 30 second time frame.

Our mission is to have a client’s phone ring, a website visited or people in the door. If successful, we are very happy.

With your experience, what makes a great television ad?

The right message delivered in a way that gets people’s attention. Quirky concepts can work, as long as the message is clear enough to still be understood. We don’t make commercials for ourselves, testing technical or creative boundaries.

The client’s message is paramount and always our objective. Budget is important, but not the overriding factor, as good commercials can still be delivered at low cost. After all, it’s not about what the ad does to consumers – it’s what consumers do with the ad that’s important!

So how do you go about creating an ad that stands out?

I’ll discuss the commercial with a client to gain an insight into their business and an overall brief of the message to be delivered. From there, it’s about the right words, followed by a concept that will get the message across in an entertaining or factual manner. Keep it simple and uncluttered is important, as too much information or imagery can be confusing – therefore losing the message and the benefit of advertising in the first place.

We can produce from video material shot by us, still images or pure graphics, so this is also to be considered when thinking concepts. Three-day sales are certainly a bit different to a corporate message. Both are about getting a message across, but in totally different ways. A three-day sale demands immediate action, where a corporate style is about educating the public in broader terms.

Is that becoming harder?

There a lot of people who use their remote controls these days, so it’s important to make sure the presentation of a commercial gets a message across clearly and quickly – plus it’s important to think about placement within commercial breaks.

This is the area where clients need to talk to their media representatives. I’m a little different to others, where I tend to watch commercial breaks – especially when I’m out of the area, as you never cease to learn or take on board new ideas. I have found that there is definitely an increase in the number of 15 sec and even 5 sec commercials being produced, as it not only gets the message across, but provides greater frequency on-air.

You mean television is accessible to many businesses?

Maybe not if you’re in Sydney due to cost, but most Coffs Coast businesses have the ability to have commercials produced to suit budgets plus be on air at quite reasonable rates, which is a great thing.

What do you see for the future of television?

Television will remain a force in entertainment that we’ll be able to watch in many different ways; for example, online and mobile, which is certainly a growing trend, as well as in home applications like the T Box, for example. Normal television capabilities, plus other entertainment on demand. As viewers, we’ll have a lot more choice – just look at the vast array of free to air digital channels we have now. On the production side, our ability to manipulate data is amazing and as our creative limitations are being removed, clients are getting better and better ads at similar prices to years ago. This is due to speed and efficiency.

Do you get some satisfaction from helping businesses with their advertising?

Absolutely, although it would be nice to get more feedback from time to time – because when it works, it’s a real sense of achievement.

Thank you Ross.


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