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Interview with The Global Interview on 7 DECEMBER 2020 – Lee Axon, Filmmaker, DigiFin

Lee Axon is a Filmmaker of DigiFin. Lee is from Newcastle but lives in Sunderland with 3 Chihuahuas. His career has always centred on customers and customer service no matter what the arena. He has worked for Game Ltd, Blockbuster Video, The Automobile Association, T-Mobile / EE and 2Touch.

For him, his biggest highlights were the time as an Operations Manager in the call centre world, and then in 2015, when he decided to go alone and became a freelance Personal Trainer.

In 2017 he was industry recognised by The National Fitness Awards for his achievements in freelance Personal Training. Lee left that part of his career in early 2019 when he developed DigiFin.

Lee creates photographs, video and content for businesses, people, brands and products, and “I do it in a very niche way unique to myself – I developed this business on iPhone”, he says.

Away from work, he is heavily into mental, emotional and physical strength. Lee exercises hard and regularly, and he loves to be outside with his dogs, drinking coffee and taking photos.

When I was younger, I was a video game champ and featured in magazines, so I still play a little bit through the week to keep the dream alive! I’m a huge film nerd and regularly watch movies and then the making of them and how they are created. And in essence… that’s me! – Lee Axon.

Tell us about your current role and what you like about your career/role or areas of focus.

I currently bring people’s ideas to life visually. I give them the Digital Finish – DigiFin! Clients approach me to showcase an idea on video, and I create and deliver that idea. I love the fact that people trust me with their business and their customers. My current focus is always the same – giving them the best service and product possible.

What inspires you, motivates you, helps you to make each day count?

Truthfully – my dogs. I want my business to sustain our life. This makes me look at each day as an opportunity to do great work either with DigiFin or in my personal life. We are not here forever, so I want to get something out of every day where possible that I can feel was worth it.

Outside of your professional work area, what hobbies or interests do you have or what other areas of your life are of real importance to you?

Personal relationships are insanely important to me. Have you watched Jerry Maguire? It’s all about personal relationships, and I thrive on that in life. I love seeing friends and clients, having coffee, shooting the breeze and just soaking up good vibes. I take my health seriously and regularly exercise with gym equipment or by walking with the dogs.

When it comes to your life chosen career, is there a phrase, quote or saying that you really like?

Sitting in the training room at T-Mobile in September 2007, I heard the phrase “people matter most”. That’s never ever left my hard-drive. I used this in my call centre days, Personal Training days and with DigiFin. People really do matter most.

What are you most proud of in your life?

My ability to reinvent myself several times. I was a skinny rake at school and was bullied. I started the gym in 1987, and it changed my life. I have worked in the blue-chip industry and left it to go alone as a PT and then left that to become a creator. The ability to circumnavigate life’s hurdles to become better and different is what I am most proud of.

What do you wish you had known when you started out?

There are so many layers to technology and how you implement it. I’ve literally taught myself everything I know about video, flying, editing and photography. I learn every day through research. So I guess I wish I knew then what I know now!

Who do you most admire in business, academic or creative circles?

On YouTube there is a guy called Marques Brownlee. He reviews tech and has done so since January 2009. He was just a teenager at the time. He now has over 13 million subscribers. I admire him for the reason that he has grown his business, skills, channel and notoriety over a sustained period of time by embracing, learning, delivering and refining his technical expertise to a level that is simply stunning. His videos are just brilliant, and I’ve learned and bought so much tech simply by trusting a man I’ve never met.

What companies, brands, or institutions do you like or do you think are getting it right?

Controversially I think all the big tech companies are such as Google, Amazon and Facebook. Yes, some of their methods are quite rightly under scrutiny, but we are people at the end of the day and should be able to either tune out or tune in. I’m all for AI and letting tech learn how I like to do whatever I like to do. Surely tech is there to make our lives easier right? Oh and Ringtons Coffee – that’s great coffee! They get it right for sure!

What is the best advice you have ever received?

“Do whatever makes you happy.” I’m so far removed for the ‘normal’ way of living. I live for me. I don’t live to become a millionaire or own a Porsche. I do what I want to ensure I smile – legally I may add!

What drives or motivates you each day in a work environment?

Exceeding expectations and seeing that huge grin from the client when I present them a teaser or a final product. I just love the freedom I’m given to take a bunch of Lego bricks and build something amazing. Remember, as I said earlier – I did everything with my iPhone, and this blows people’s minds.

What are your thoughts on the future of social media?

“Exhales huge breath”; That’s a hard one. It’s definitely here to stay, and we’ll see new ones come and go. I think it’s lost its way a bit. I think they handed too much control to the user and allowed the experience to be far too personal and emotional with all the interactions and views you can have. Something’s existed better in a more simple form. I like my coffee black. I don’t like it with five different things in it – it’s not coffee anymore.

What is your favourite social media platform, and why?

Easy. YouTube. It’s just so entertaining. It covers every topic you can think of, and from day one has kept a very simple format for interaction. It generally creates a good conversation in the comment sections.

Do you have a mentor, or have you ever been a mentor to anyone?

I don’t have a mentor no – I’m self-created. I regularly mentor clients on how to take better media themselves, which I enjoy. I have also been signed up by Sunderland University as a mentor to students in a new digital division designed to grow the next wave of digital freelance talent. I am really looking forward to this kicking off. I just adore coaching and developing.

How do you network? What is your preferred way to network?

To be honest, people seem to connect with me when they see my work. We get chatting, and usually, that’s it – boom – a new connection! My preference has and always will be a simple recommendation introduction – people matter most!

What advice would you have for someone looking to get into the same area of work?

Do it! There’s enough work for everyone. Grab some basic equipment and go practice practice practice. Walk up to a business, offer them something for free and start building your experience and portfolio – it really is that easy. I got to work with Aston Martin because I walked in with a big smile and 12 doughnuts.

What do you feel is the most common reason for people failing or giving up?

Really simple – they simply don’t dig the foundations before they try to build the house. They run into things with a great idea and don’t have a full plan on how to execute something they visualised. Just take your time, grab some paper and a pencil, sit on the idea, bounce it around, refine then go for it. And if it fails – reflect on it and fix the weaknesses before going at it again.

How do you define success, and what lessons have you learned so far that you could share with our audience?

For me, it’s when the client smiles and nods. That’s success for me in its purest form. In September, I shot a full music video with an iPhone and my drone. The results were exactly as I imagined them – exactly. The singer and her audience were simply stunned by the final product. That, to me, is a success. It’s never about the money for me – it’s about the emotion. The biggest lesson I have learned is self-critique. I always look at my videos and dissect them to see what could I have done differently? I go and research it if I think it’s a technical aspect, and then I practice. There’s nothing wrong with taking your own work apart.

What skills do you feel have helped you to become successful?

My positivity and mental strength have driven me forward to be very successful in my domain. I’m a very strong person with a huge smile and bright ideas. These truly are skills that can be used every day in life and business because your work is a projection of yourself (I believe that anyway).

Is there anything new that you are working on or involved in that you would like to share?

As I touched on above, I am about to start some consulting work with Sunderland University. I’m busy editing a huge mind-set and visualization programme for a doctor and Olympic gold medalist. When the Covid-19 dust settles, I will fly to Italy to make a short documentary on one of the world’s most prestigious coffee machine manufactures – all on iPhone! I’ve just finished reformatting, stabilizing and editing video camera footage of a boy who died last year. His family found the camera at home a few months ago and have not seen the footage of family holidays in over 10 years. This will be very emotional for them, but very rewarding for me. Can you believe it? I’ve been working on something so emotional for this family. I’m so honoured.