Film producer and actress Vinni Bay followed her mum’s advice to get an education first and now uses her marketing background to give her film production company, Bay Universal Entertainment, a competitive edge.
I know it sounds odd, but I’ve dreamed of being a film producer since I was four years old.
People always assumed I wanted to be an actor, but although I do enjoy being in front of the camera I really love the hard work that goes into producing a film, and being the one to make it happen. I’m a natural organiser and co-ordinator.
My passion is action films that are driven by a strong story, particularly if there are powerful female roles. I’m currently working on a film I wrote that’s set in Iceland and is partly about climate change. I’m also working with a few Chinese stunt artists on a short film called Fight of Honour that came about after I had contact with some of Jackie Chan’s own stunt team members. There is always something great happening when I’m talking to people about my film ideas – if I can enthuse someone and get them to believe in me and the film project it’s the best feeling. It amazes me how you can make these connections with people and start working towards a shared vision, even if you come from totally different cultures. This is the future, I believe.
When I set up my film company I wanted to make it different from the rest and my marketing background has been crucial in achieving this. Not only can I make films, but I can also market them and bring in partners to help me distribute them across different territories. You need a lot of investors on board to make a film – especially a feature film – and that’s much easier to achieve if they can see you have a strong and secure way to sell your products. At the moment, I’m working really hard to build up a strong network of film partnerships and to reach as many potential investors as possible.
I write, act, produce, direct, do my own stunts and market my films. I am Bay Universal Entertainment, basically.
Before I started the company, I worked as an animation producer at The Animation Workshop in Viborg to get more insight into how to work with animation and master both this and live action films. I knew I’d be a one-woman band, so I wanted to have a good strategy and understand fully what was involved. I am not a fan of unpaid jobs in the film industry and even though I don’t pay myself a wage yet and work as a marketing co-ordinator I have a mission. Film is well-known as a risky business and projects can take a long time to come to fruition. It’s frustrating sometimes – I always want things to happen faster! – but I just have to tell myself to chill out.
Base in London
Everyone thinks you have to go to Hollywood to make it.
When I did my BA in Marketing at the International Business Academy in Kolding, Denmark I met Ian Charles, who’s a visiting professor at LSBU. He said I should go to LSBU because not only was the marketing course excellent, but I’d have fantastic access to the film and theatre world from a base in London. And it’s true: you really don’t need to go to LA, you can take the route that fits you the best like I did.
Studying at LSBU
Studying at LSBU was a very important experience for me as it was the first time I was able to bring the film angle into my studies and business life. Almost all of my lecturers had some kind of connection with film or theatre and my teachers helped me find film company examples for some of my case studies. For my dissertation [on how to make the Danish film industry more commercially successful] I interviewed people at 40 different companies around Europe and that was also a great way to start getting my name known in the industry. In fact, I was recently talking to a friend of mine at Lucas Film in the US and he was aware of me from those original contacts I’d made in Europe.
I started to write my first film on Post-it notes on the wall of my dorm room at LSBU.
I have since made a short version of it called Cortex of Perception, which is almost finished – we are just waiting for the visual effects team to do their work. It should be released in 2019 and I plan to work with distribution partners to get it screened at film festivals around the world. A short film like this can act as a calling card to help people in the industry understand our brand and our vision of making films. If it were to do well and win an award it could bring in some serious investors for future projects.
My advice to anyone with a big dream is to go for it. Don’t be held back by fear of making mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn and how we become better and tougher. Never, never, listen to negative thoughts; just keep going!