By Adam Wakefield

Kohrs’ former-life in the coating and plating industry began in 2003 with the founding of Cubic Coatings, and he would remain there for the next 12-and-a-half years. According to Kohrs, coating and plating allowed him to explore his creative side; mixing colours and focusing his eye for detail. During this period, he says he was approached on a number of occasions to consider freelancing in graphic design or to do a film shoot.

However, the drop that tipped the glass and launched Kohrs’ production career was an evening at home while watching one particular Oscar-winning film.

“As crazy as it sounds, I literally decided overnight to make the change in my career from coating to filming. The epiphany happened late one night whilst I was watching the infamous film, Titanic,” Kohrs says.

“I will never forget how it just ‘hit me like a ton of bricks’. I realised how I was still so enthralled by the shots in the movie, the emotion I felt and the incredible story, and that’s literally when I decided that I’m going to do this. I’m going to do what I love best. I’m going to bring ideas to life.”

The Oscar-winning epic led Kohrs to open his own production house, C.K Productions | Design, in 2009, and he was so sure of his decision, he spent three separate stints, two of which were at institutions in the United Kingdom, studying film to advance his craft.

Some skills cannot be taught

While the skills required by the two careers are markedly different, the business experience he acquired as a coating specialist have proven invaluable in managing the operational aspects of his production shop.

“It also afforded me the opportunity to gain experience in building client relationships and to learn the importance of aligning the client’s inputs with the outputs, delivering on their expectation whilst, at the same time, ensuring I provide advice based on my expertise to generate the best results,” he says.

Communication is also important. In Kohrs’ experience, two people can be using the same language but be sending and hearing very different messages. Listening is as important as talking.

“The most challenging aspect that I faced – and had to adapt to very quickly – was managing numerous projects simultaneously. Both industries require intricate deadlines and both require producing high-quality products.”

There is no shortcut to coat an item effectively, with the same principle applying to designing an advertising campaign or shooting a video.

“I’ve learned that detailed planning and scheduling is crucial to achieving my deadlines and to delivering on projects as if each was the only one on-hand,” he says.

Wasted time is very expensive

Planning, as Kohrs’ has indicated, is crucial in the filming process and he does not do it alone, describing it as a “team effort”.

“The success of a job is fully dependent on the team pulling together. There are many people involved and each person needs to have a call-time as well as a detailed brief. This is why call sheets exist. Production schedules are also exceptionally important,” he says.

“They are created to inform the crew, a month in advance, for example, of any upcoming productions, production meetings, etc. It is imperative that all members of the crew are on the same page from beginning to end. Wasted time is very expensive.”

What separates the cream from the rest

Over the course of Kohrs’ eight-year career in video production, he has seen what can go wrong. Asked what the biggest mistakes made by people who do not have a rounded understanding of production are, Kohrs named seven deadly sins that can ruin a project if executed poorly:

  • Rule of thirds (framing);
  • Breaking the line;
  • Incorrect white balance;
  • Bad lighting on set;
  • Continuity;
  • Jump-cuts;
  • Unstable cameras.  

“There are many more mishaps, but these are the top seven. Filming is not just about setting up and shooting. When setting up for a shoot, you have to pay attention to the detail in your frame, to the look and feel of your frame as well as to the type of mood that you want to reveal to your audience,” he says.

Being successful as a freelancer

Kohrs has been a freelancer for over seven years, building up an impressive portfolio of clients and completed work. As his own boss, he has a freedom many within the film industry crave. However, he notes, before you can run as a freelancer, you need to learn to walk.

“My advice to others aspiring to freelance in the filming business is to watch as many films, corporate videos, adverts and show-reels as possible. This will help improve their eye for visual and attention to detail,” he advises.

“It is also important to build a network and keep a true, loyal relationship with clients. Put in more than you get out, keep up-to-date with regards to gear and technology, and, most importantly, always put your passion to practice.”

For more information, connect with him on LinkedIn.

Freelancing is a route many media professionals go down. Read more in our article, The pros and cons of being a freelancer.