Case study

Building
a business

Getting together on a project in their second year changed the lives of Film Production students Josh, Ben, Odhran and James. Just a year after they finished their degree, they are running their own production company full-time – with a growing reputation for their work.

Flying start

What do Bear Grylls, a dance studio and a women’s charity have in common? They’ve all experienced the magic touch of Goldbox Productions. These four Derby Film Production graduates launched their business while studying and went full-time in 2020. They’re already making their mark in the world of film and video.

Josh Spaticchia, Ben Collison, James Heaney and Odhran Taylor met during the second year of their course when they collaborated on a film. “Our lecturers encouraged us to start making our own content,” explains Josh. “So we got together through the course chat and the result was a short film called Virtual Brutality. We took it to festivals and it won a few awards, with nine nominations in total. That was when we saw the potential.”

Ben takes up the story: “On the way back from Birmingham Film Festival, we said what if we made a production company, and then it extended into how about we make it a business and go full-time.”

Goldbox's story

The Goldbox team at work in a studio

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Pandemic? Don’t panic

These enterprising students had their business up and running well before they graduated. And then along came coronavirus, just as they were finishing their final projects and preparing for life beyond university. But they’re certainly making the best of the situation. Living and working together, there’s plenty of time for them to focus on the business. “It’s given us time to develop the business more,” says James.

They’ve been creating too, finding a niche in sport and fitness videos with companies such as Energie Fitness. They’ve also worked with Bear Grylls on his new Be Military Fit Initiative, and with Derby-based Darley Dance. “They usually do a Christmas show,” says Ben. “Because of lockdown they wanted to go virtual, so we helped them create their whole show online.”

So how has studying at Derby helped them come so far so soon? For Odhran, it was the chance to find his identity: “Coming to university helped me find my voice, my skillset. I think that’s down to the tutors giving me the opportunity to learn.”

James says it’s been the people they met. “Without going to the University of Derby we’d never have met each other. Also the lecturers – people like Tom Craig, our head lecturer. When people contacted the University needing videography work, he would come to us asking if we would be able to take on the job. He helped to get our name out there.”

The Goldbox filming a presenter in a studio

Nurturing talent

Ongoing support from the University has been an added factor in their success. They have stayed in Derby and have been involved with the Innovation Hothouse, a University-run support network and co-working space for self-employed Derby students and graduates. “The University has been so supportive,” says Odhran. “Not just through what they normally do with alumni – reaching out, career advice and so on – but setting us up in the Innovation Hothouse, telling us about Marketing Derby, which we’re involved in.”

The guys are happy to give back too. They have supported Derby’s Women’s Work charity to showcase their new refuge, despite a lack of funds. And, when a drama school came to film with them, they made sure the students got to try the view from behind the camera, giving them hints and tips on techniques to help with their performance.

The Goldbox team: Odhran Taylor, James Heaney, Josh Spaticchia, and Ben Collison
The Goldbox team: Odhran Taylor, James Heaney, Josh Spaticchia and Ben Collison

The future is bright

Where do they go from here? Josh is brimming with confidence for the future: “Our experience at uni working in large teams on projects has really set us up for our business – there’s no project that’s too big for us. I’m confident that no matter who comes to use, we can create something great for them.”

They’re ambitious words, but with their track record so far, you wouldn’t bet against them. Goldbox looks set for a golden future.