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Polecam Reach New Heights

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This month Regional Film and Video caught up with, Steffan Hewitt, Polecam's Managing Director. We had our chat just as the company reached new heights: extending their reach to eight meters at BVE when they intorduced the Wire Strut System. Polecam have spent 15 years developing portable camera cranes that are now being used in a diverse range of productions. Mr Hewitt has told us about the moment he knew Polecam was here to stay, the importance of cash flow and good staff.
RFV: Nearly 15 years old, Polecam is well and truly a highly recognised brand in the industry, when do you feel was the stand out moment you had made it and Polecam was here to stay?
SH: HD was the turning point for us as previously SD cameras for Polecam were native 4:3 but the bulk of our customers wanted 16:9!
RFV: What advice would you give someone with a very good idea or product in broadcast but is having difficultly taking it to the next level?
SH: Ensure you have the right staff around you, cash flow is king. Having a good accountant/bookkeeper is essential; HMRC wait for no man, make sure your tax and VAT is put away before you spend it! Without cash flow you are going nowhere, sales, marketing and R&D are essential tools and all require cash.
RFV:Calling to your stand at BVE, once again a hive of activity, how important is the exhibition for Polecam?
SH: Essential not just to show off new products to new customers but existing customers as well, brand awareness and meetings with suppliers and dealers alike. Shows like BVE, IBC and NAB are international meeting places. It is essential that you maximize the opportunity.
RFV:Very busy time of the year with Cabsat, NAB, Broadcast Asia and IBC. How important is it for UK companies to promote themselves to the emerging BRIC economies?
SH:As essential as it is to present to these markets it is important not to spread yourself too thin; doing too many shows can actually be detrimental to a young business, getting the balance just right is important. Understanding the individual characteristics of these economies is crucial, just because we do it one way in England doesn’t it is right for, say, Brazil. Remember to secure your cash before parting with goods until you have established a good trading relationship. The Russians for example know that it is always cash up front.
RFV: You extended your reach to 8 metres at BVE and introduced the Wire Strut System (WSS) must be an absolute dream for operators working in limited spaces or challenging weather conditions?
SH: It always seemed that Polecam was limited in its length but now with new carbon fibre technology and one of the simplest wires strut systems in the world large crane technology is available simply and affordably. Although the Wire Strut System is not essential from a strength point of view it gives operators of a wide range of experience greater confidence.
RFV: Can customers upgrade the existing system or do they have to buy a whole new system?
SH: The Wire Strut System will work form rig number 1 right up to rig number 400 recently supplied via our UK dealer CVP to Chris Evans’ UMTV.
RFV: We have recently done a feature on 3D with a lot of feedback suggesting still not quite mainstream. With your recent project's going from Snow Patrol to Gondola's in Venice right up to the soon to be Olympics in London, is 3D going in the right direction?
SH: That’s a controversial question I would say; is 3D here to stay? Yes is the answer but not quite as mainstream as we would have imagined a year or two ago. Polecam is still regularly performing 3D although the number of operators doing it is quite limited and specialised. We continue to develop albeit under the waved caution flag and hope to show a baby mirror rig at NAB.
RFV: Polecam have had successful partnerships with Toshiba and Camera Corps. Do you believe more organisations should work together on specific projects?
SH: Definitely, share the load and burden, access a larger knowledge and customer base and spread the financial risk.
RFV: Finally, now that Polecam has secured it's place in the market, is there any other sector of the industry you would like to develop a product to have a similar success?
SH: Polecam has already made tentative forays into the medical filming market and the feedback we have received leads us to believe that this market is worth continuing promoting and developing our equipment.
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