‘The Honest Jones’ is an umbrella name, encompassing the many creative works of Amanda Jones and her small team of talented creatives. Initially trained as a Dancer and with ambition to become a Choreographer, Amanda changed tracks along the way and decided to study Styling at Whitehouse Institute. From here Amanda dipped her hand in a few more creative pies such as interning for a fashion company and within an art department, working on film. It was through these experiences she refined what it was that she was really passionate about…film making. From this landing point, Amanda began to develop her own processes and editing technique (all self-taught) of making and editing ‘One Minute Films’ for Brands.
I met Amanda at her quaint hilltop studio/home nestled within the trees and in view of the ocean. She invited me in with offer of a cup of tea and we sat down to share some honest words…
H: The name “The Honest Jones,” how did that come about?
A: It came about by mistake really. I put it on some sort of label I was playing with and posted it on Instagram and then people were like ‘The Honest Jones,’ what’s that about? It intrigued people and it sounded good so the name just stuck. Then after that I went back and dug deeper into what the name can really mean for us as a company and the definition of Honest. For us this means doing ‘a good honest day’s work’.
It also comes through in the way we approach the editing process. Our films are quite unfiltered and it’s the kind of style that’s less edited in a sense. Obviously there is an editing process to add an element of storytelling, but I always come back to the idea of “just letting the truth be the truth.”
If a brand is good at what they do, people will latch onto that, so our job is to represent what they actually are. We try not to fake too much with our editing. I guess that’s how the Honest bit is filtered through our work and as a company.
H: When people are watching your films created for a brand, what do you want them to feel?
A: I want them to feel that they know that client. That they can be friends with that client. An example of this was one of our clients who is a baker emailed us after they released the film we made for them saying: “I used to get emails saying ‘To whom it may concern’ and now I get emails saying ‘Dear Emma.” This was because we intentionally put her into the film, showing her hand making the cupcakes.
H: Why do you think it’s important to know the people behind the brand?
A: Because for so many brands there is one person who started it with a vision and a heart to put something out in the world that didn’t previously exist. Even some really established, bigger companies started with just one person putting their heart and soul into that brand. It was an idea initially in their head, and now it’s in the world. They have literally changed the world because of their idea and their product/service, and I find that really fascinating. I think the consumer connects with the people behind the brand as much as the brand itself.
H: Why one minute for the films?
A: Again it’s a catchy name, but I always liked the idea of when you used to go and get photos developed and it was called a ‘one hour photo.’ That was my initial inspiration. But I also picked it because it’s a good length, I don’t think you need more than one minute to get to the point across. When we put it all together and branded the idea of having one minute of film, Instagram suddenly changed their video length from 15 seconds, announcing they were going to extend it to one minute out of no-where. It was a week before we launched and we felt it was crazy timing!
H: What is your vision for the company in the next few years?
A: I would love to have a studio space at some point, to obviously shoot our work in but also as a place of gathering, and to build community. I would love to have cinema nights and project old movies onto a screen, eat popcorn and just have a type of “underground cinema” experience.
H: I would totally come!
A: You’re totally invited!
H: What are some things that influence your creative process?
A: I think it would be other creative fields. I think the further away you can get your inspiration from the better. So I obviously watch films and cinema, and follow other people’s work, definitely. Fashion is another one, what’s going on in the fashion world is very inspiring to me. The beauty of Instagram is you can see what the best of the best are doing all around the world. So we follow what the guys are doing for Vogue and Chanel etc.
H: Changing track a little…What does the word purpose mean to you?
A: I love the idea of finding purpose in your everyday. It’s hard to put purpose into words… There is definitely a feeling of making sure that what we are creating in terms of The Honest Jones is putting good into the world and helping people. I guess for me the common theme in my life, with everything I have done…in my long life (giggles)… is creativity. I am fascinated by working creatively and what that means as a human, and how we can do that in a healthy way. There is this idea that we should work long hours, miss breaks, tunnel in and forget about life whilst working on something, because that’s the only way to do it. But I think there is a better way of creating. I see a lot of damaging culture in the industry - in fashion, in film, in advertising etc. But there are great pockets of people doing really great stuff in a healthy way, and discovering that has been a lifesaver for me. In college I really burnt out and that made me realise there had to be another way to create.
For me now it’s about balance - a lot of resting and slowing down. You go slow to go fast. I think the nature of creative work now is projects. This means there are times of intensity, but you have to balance them out with times of serious rest. It could almost be criticised as laziness…I love that (smiles). But knowing that you rest in order to work better and get a better result.
Slowing down is a lot of what I write about…we talk about it in our studio all the time. For me, as the creative visionary of what we do…all of the ideas are in my mind - my imagination is always working, so it needs to recharge. This is what daydreaming is…letting your mind wander. You don’t tell it what to think, it thinks what it thinks and you see what it comes up with. There are times when you directly have to think of ideas in relation to a job and not linger too long on something, but then there are times to let the mind think what it wants to [to grow your imagination]. I intentionally structure in time for daydreaming.
H: Let’s talk about how The Honest Jones came to be in 2014, what was the point you took a leap of faith and turned an idea into reality by making it into a business?
A: Quitting my job was a leap of faith. I had no idea how to turn my freelancing (often unpaid work) into a full time paid gig. I quit paid work as a nanny to make this…and by the way I had no idea what “this” was at that point. It was that leap of faith that really forced me to learn how to charge people for my work. That’s the hardest part initially - quoting creative jobs! Most of my work comes from my imagination, so I didn’t know how to put a value on that!
H: Yes, that’s so interesting because we may not realise that what often comes so naturally to us [like the way you think], can actually be our greatest asset…it really is so valuable.
H: So within that transition of starting your own business how did you not panic about getting clients to make money early on?
A: I was very calm. The temptation was there to panic, and looking back it’s weird that I didn’t panic. Instead I thought: “I’m going to really enjoy this quiet space, where I have a lot of time, because soon I’m going to be so busy that I’m going to miss this.” And that takes a lot of faith to believe that. I was very peaceful about it. The whole thing was out of trust.
H: And even now with running your own gig, how do you manage those in between times when you might not be getting many new inquiries, and you know you need a certain amount of clients to keep continuing. Like many small business owners, how do you navigate that tension and trust you will keep getting the work?
A: I think because I started in that space with nothing, and I had faith it would work out, I can always go back to that. I find it hard to talk about this kind of stuff because everyone is on their own journey, so in terms of giving someone else advice, the best thing for them might actually be to not quit your job and do your own thing full time, but maybe it is the best thing?
What works for me is just following the peace and I follow that at all costs - no matter what that looks like. Perseverance is a part of it, but for me it’s also about following the holy spirit- which is a big influence in my life. Whatever you call it in your life, I think peace is something that applies to us all - follow that peace.
H: What would be your advice to people wanting to start their own creative business?
A: Put yourself out there. Do good work and share it. And start actually doing the things you want to be doing. Offer your services or product for free to local brands you like, to start building a portfolio. Do trades with other creatives where you both offer your services to one another for no cost, but you both benefit out of the exchange. People are open to that sort of stuff. Do a lot of creative play and refine your process – figure out how you work best.
H: And lastly, when you initially started with your business, did you feel a sense of imposter syndrome?
A: OHH BIG TIME. Everything I learnt, I learnt myself. People still ask me now what it is I do and I’m like…“I run a film production company…I think” and even my team sometimes pulls me up on this saying “YES, yes you do.” So I just tell myself yes, this is what I do, this is what I offer. I think it’s important to be grateful and excited about that and people will be excited for you!
To view the teams ‘Honest Creative Work’ click here
Photography and Interview by Hannah Darkins - The Unfold