Entrepreneur Makes Films with Heart
Obsessed with film and film production since her youth, and having cultivated a desire to do good, Jen started UpperStory Films, a socially-conscious film production company.
Having launched in 2015, UpperStory Films aims to create cinematic promotional videos for non-profits and small businesses. Jen and her team helps organizations tell the best story they can through film.
After coming home to Vancouver from her travels abroad, Jen had a tough time getting a traditional job, but received multiple requests to produce short promotional films. Her film production training and non-profit work experience, as well as her exposure to entrepreneurialism (her father was a small business owner) gradually convinced her to take the plunge and become an entrepreneur herself.
Initially not knowing where to start, Jen enrolled into EMBERS Ventures’ Build A Business course, which helped her develop a business plan and connected her with a mentor. After this ten-week course wrapped up, Jen signed up for EMBERS’ Launch A Business program, which gave her further support and guidance to take her business to the next level.
“Johanna, my coach, has been on my case in a good way,” she says. “She keeps me on track and knows me well enough to know where I’m going to start sliding off, and she gently pushes me back.”
Jen has experienced steady work for the past several months, but in order to achieve this, she had to get comfortable with financial management and conquer her fears of sales.
“I didn’t have a financial history to start with, which meant there was no record or data to deal with. Now that it’s been a few years, I can see how the data fits together.” she says.
“And when I think about sales, it’s terrifying. But when I do it, it’s obviously not. I ask ‘What do you need help with and can I help you?’, and it’s such a better way of considering it. It makes it easier on everyone to think about it that way.”
Despite the challenges, Jen enjoys being an entrepreneur because she can combine her film production skills with her passion for helping people do good.
“I like businesses that are out there doing something that’s making a difference and putting people over profits,” she said. “Non-profits are close to my heart and small businesses — “I’m out there myself, so I understand what it’s like to start out and struggle to get on your feet.”
To her, the training she received at EMBERS was indispensable. “I don’t know if I would have found anything else out there that would have really focus me the same way,” she said.
Jen’s enthusiasm for learning has also accelerated her business growth and encouraged her to reflect on her experiences. After Build A Business wrapped up, she founded an accountability and mastermind group named EMBERS Entrepreneurs for course alumni to help each other.
“It’s also a nice time to sit down and say, ‘What did I actually do last month?’ or ‘What are the key main goals’? It’s good to sit down to think and get some help too.”
Now that UpperStory Films is going onto its third year, Jen recommends that those seeking to start their own business find mentors to help them overcome their fear, uncertainty, and confusion. “They might be your competitors,” she says. “But they’re also going to give you pointers because you’re putting them on a pedestal.”
If you are a non-profit or small business looking for video storytelling expertise, check out upperstoryfilms.com.