Money natters: Michael reveals why he's moved back to mum & dads

By Kimberley Bailey

Michael explains why he chose to leave his job at Google & move back into his parents helped him reach his dream


The corporate world isn’t for everyone and Michael Jones, 30, chose to leave his job as video producer at Google and his flat in London to move back to where he grew up to devote himself to his real passion - making films. Since going it alone he spent some time working as a freelance videographer and has now established his own Film & Video production company


Q: When you were a kid, what did you imagine your future would look like?

A: Back then actually I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my dad and older brother as labourers so I took a carpentry course when I finished school. In truth, it wasn't that I aspired to be a carpenter but I am from a small town and there didn't feel like that many options; you had to do hard graft. I always loved film and always dreamed of being in that industry but it wasn't until I was 18 that I realised that was possible.


Q: Would you say you're currently in your ideal job or profession?

A: Being the owner of my own production company is always something I’ve wanted, however, of course, as I'm trying to build up my client base and keep money coming in it does mean some of the work I do aren’t exactly my dream projects. My goal is to be a film director working on regular 6 - 9 month contracts, but I definitely feel like I’m on the right path.


Q: And what do you consider as the biggest factors holding you back from stepping into your ideal job tomorrow?

A: Contacts; the industry is relatively small here in the UK so it’s not easy to make prominent connections which are one of the best ways to secure regular gigs on films, and without that it means that I spend a lot of time producing my own work and using my own money - often through Kickstarter. Money is a huge factor too because being able to invest in projects that you want means you have to have a really decent budget and also try and pay yourself out of that too.


Q: What would you do if you were given £10,000?

A: I’d put it towards funding for a film. I’m in the middle of a personal project which is a four-part Horror omnibus so the money would go a long way to getting great actors and more camera kit for completing those.


Q: Who, or what inspires you and why?

A: I’m inspired by the hard work ethic that was drummed into me by my parents when I was young. They’ve also never held me back from what I wanted to do and have always been supportive. That’s all very inspirational in itself. But with regard to my profession and passion I find inspiration from the actor James Stewart and especially the films he did with Alfred Hitchcock. Those are the kinds of films I want to make, I’m inspired by the idea of leaving something behind that people remember and a legacy of high-quality work.

Money management

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, how savvy do you think you are with money?

A: Probably about a 7. I don’t tend to spend a lot on me personally but I have funded a couple of films myself and that’s left me short on funds. I’ve actually never been good at saving money because as soon as I have money in my account I’ll spend it on something that I’ll see as beneficial for the business even though I can’t really afford it. However, I’m good at researching which bank accounts and credit cards I should go with for various needs which I think is important, but I do wish I was better at budgeting.


Q: Where did you learn to manage your money?

A: I think I’ve learnt through fear, as strange as that might sound. When I was younger I spent my money on rubbish and I’d be berated by my dad and had it drilled into me that I can’t continue to be frivolous like that. My brother runs his own landscape gardening business so even without realising I’ve probably looked up to him and how he handles his money and justifies what to buy. I’ve also learnt simply by doing; I’ve always managed my own finances and done all of my own tax returns and so on, up until just a year ago when I got an accountant.

Attitude towards money

Q: If you had to choose 3 words to describe how you feel about money, what would they be?

A: I feel, first and foremost, it’s necessary. But I also find it problematic and attach anxiety to it. I find it easy to create a bad association with money because I feel like I always need it and I never have enough to do all of the things I want. But, I do also feel like there’s hope. I associate it with hope as well because with money I can achieve more.


Q: If you had to pick 3 words you’d identify with your future, what would they be?

A: Ambitious definitely. Hopeful again, and “dream”. I really don’t want to give up on my dream of being a filmmaker and I’ve always had a lot of willpower and ambition. I have faith that through my hard work and making moves in the right direction with my business will pay off.


Q: What have been your best purchase?

A: What I’d consider my best purchases are more investments I’d say, and they would be a couple of the short films that I’ve made. They weren't perfect and they cost a lot of money but I’ve learnt so much from them. I’ve gained invaluable experience which has made me stronger as a director.

Decisions & influences on them

Q: If you could go back and change one decision in your life what would it be?

A: Not a single decision really, but I wish I made more of my time at university by making better use of what my lecturers had to offer and pushing myself to make more contacts on internships and things like that to give me a headstart in the industry.


Q: What are you most proud of in your life?

A: I’m proud of the films I’ve made so far. Recently, for my Horror short, I worked with and directed Tim Curry who is a hero of mine and an actor called Mark Arnold who was really big in the 80s. Those have been huge achievements. I made a Western while I was at university and really threw myself in the deep end with that but I’m really proud of it.


Q: What do you imagine changing in your life over the next 2 years?

A: I see myself living somewhere different, definitely in my own place which I’ve hopefully bought. I’ll be promoting my film, Long Drive Home, a lot following it around different festivals and gathering investors and people from other production companies to work with on a new project, something that isn’t entirely funded by myself. That’s the target.


Q: What is the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?

A: It’s quite cringey but my mum has always told me to never give up on my dreams. That’s certainly been advice that I’ve followed so far and, in part, what pushed me to start my own company.


Q: And the worst piece of advice?

A: When I left Google a lot of my colleagues told me not to leave unless I had something else 100% secure and set up but even though the company is great, I wasn’t doing the work that I enjoyed and it was bringing me down. I still believe leaving when I did was the best thing to do.

Work & lifestyle

Q: What are your top money priorities over the coming years?

A: The next big thing is getting on the property ladder and buying my own flat. Even if I don’t end up living there for a really long time I think it’s a great investment when perhaps other areas of your life are a little uncertain.


Q: What’s the biggest financial goal that you’re working towards?

A: I’m aiming to get more money behind my company - there’s no set figure yet but I want to work at perhaps doing some freelance work on the side for other people and saving that to put into Elwood Films. And on a more personal level with regard to my relationship with my finances, the goal is to be better at budgeting as I said before so even when there are dry spells when it comes to work I know I won’t be in a bind.

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