In a world where anyone can buy a high quality camera, the aspiring photographer can often find themselves lost in the masses. Oftentimes as saturated with talent as the music scene, few manage to break through. It takes skill, tenacity and often some luck.
On the other hand, the demand for photography and videography has never been higher and music plays a huge role in supporting that industry. Live gigs, music videos, tours, advertising… it all needs to be filmed. The worlds are fatefully entwined.
Enter yeahsure, a production agency that sits firmly in the buzzing landscape of Australian music and shows no sign of leaving anytime soon.
Known for slick, high-end video production and photography, yeahsure have been responsible for shooting some of the best content out there in the last year.
Since yeahsure came to be in 2015, founders Jack Toohey and Patrick Rohl have found themselves in a hurricane of festivals, gigs and music video shoots. Their portfolio has grown at an alarming rate and only seems to be increasing in quality with each new reel.
We caught up with Jack Toohey for a beer earlier in the week to chat the music scene, how to stand out in the crowd, and the importance of staying creative in a world of artists.
HAPPY: Hey Jack, thanks for coming, how are you?
JACK: Good, good.
HAPPY: Great, we’ll start right off then! Can you tell us a bit about how yeahsure got started?
JACK: It was started by me and Pat Rohl. We met last year at Splendour in the Grass – he got called up last minute to shoot The Rubens and I was called up last minute to shoot Mark Ronson. We met, ended up camping next to each other. After Splendour we started working together, and I was like “fuck yeah”…(Jack pauses)
HAPPY: You can swear. We publish swear words.
JACK: Well I was like “fuck yeah” and we started working together in another business. Around that time, the back half of 2015, it became evident that we could build something together, separate to what we’d been working on previously.
In December we decided we should take that leap and we called our mutual friend Craig Wilson at Rec Studios and asked if the pool room was free, like tomorrow. We pretty much moved in the next day.
HAPPY: Just like that?
JACK: Well we probably spent about a month trying to come up with the name. We worked as this unnamed entity for most of December, and then we finally came up with yeahsure.
HAPPY: So you were both in the industry already and it was a pretty easy transition to make?
JACK: I’d been floating around as a photographer, done some music management and just been generally in the Sydney scene. It was something I wanted to be a part of. I didn’t go to uni, I just started freelancing and making things up as I went along. Sink or swim attitude.
Pat had studied media at uni and then went straight into TV, so when he got that Rubens gig that was his first job outside of regimental television structure. He got a buzz from it; being near the stage, seeing the amphitheater, and then we combined our two attitudes. Like yin and yang.
HAPPY: And since December you’ve exploded a bit. What do you reckon was the catalyst for that growth?
JACK:It helped already having a reputation in the Sydney nightlife scene, and having done a bit of management, the perspective we needed came naturally. That, combined with making sure we always put out the best content, is how we did it I think.
HAPPY: Was it always music you wanted to get into? Never thought about more classic directing?
JACK: When I was a kid I definitely wanted to be a film director. Pat definitely still has the thought of wanting to be a cinematographer. There’s a lot of drama in that world that’s still tantalising.
That being said, five years ago the kind of content we’re creating now didn’t exist so it would have been impossible to predict what we’re doing now. I mean, DSLRs were just becoming video-friendly. This whole new market has just opened up.
HAPPY: You’re right about the surge of video content – there’s so many videographers out there. What makes yeahsure stand out?
JACK: It’s making sure the things we produce are a higher standard.
HAPPY: Staying ahead of the crowd.
JACK: Yeah. It’s an emphasis on making sure that everything feels fresh, feels slick, it’s not just a brainfart, or a drunken video. We’ve also spent time making sure the brand is cool. We have a color scheme that’s identifiable, you need to stay looking good.
It’s not just visual, though; yeahsure, the name, Pat and I like to think as a team we like to be agreeable, nice people – we don’t push people out of the way in the pit or anything. We try to be good dudes.
HAPPY: Sounds a bit like Happy.
JACK: Well yeah! When you have a name that’s positive…we always try to rise to that.
HAPPY: If I did have to grab one thing from your work it would be that positive, summery motif. It’s all a choice of direction?
JACK: Well we always wanted it to look a bit schmancy, more on the slicker side of things. When we set out we didn’t necessarily want to be a brand ourselves, we wanted to help other brands. But naturally, you can’t go and tell a band you’re going to help them look cool if you don’t look cool yourself, or have a good ethos.
HAPPY: Cool! You do have a bit of a focus on electronic, it fits that vibe. Do you think that’s an area with more potential for video?
JACK: For me, with electronic music, there’s a bit more of a need for it. You can go see a five piece band and you know it’s going to be spectacular ‘cause there’s five people on stage, all shredding at their own instruments. With dance music, there’s still visuals but there’s a greater emphasis on content that lasts, and showing the world the spectacle, because the assumption is that there won’t be one.
DJing is inwardly focused, DJs are looking down at a little screen that nobody else can see and the crowd doesn’t have any vision of what they’re doing. When you bring video into that, onstage you can show that they are doing more than meets the eye.
HAPPY: In that kind of scene you’ve directed some music videos. Does the artist usually come to you with an idea or is it more of a creative role for your team?
JACK: There’s been a few videos where the artist had at least a visual mood or an idea, but very rarely, in our experience, does an act come to us with an idea. Mostly I put headphones on and listen to a song on repeat 100 times and hate it by the end, but hopefully I’ll have a fully-fledged idea.
Often I’ll have the initial spark of the concept and everyone else will ask “how the fuck do we do that?” Like, I’ll think we should burn a house down, but we can’t do that without spending a million dollars. The housing market isn’t too great for that these days.
HAPPY: It’s cool that there is some pressure on you as creatives, especially working so closely with artists.
JACK: I do really appreciate artists who have an idea of their image, and where they want to take it though. It helps so much; like I know if Paces came and asked for a video it’s probably going to be a tropical, summery video but if Golden Features asked it would have a darker theme. But, it is fun that we get to be creative too. Especially when it’s received well!
HAPPY: 100 percent! Last question; is there a next step for yeahsure?
JACK: There’s a couple of guys who have really been here since the start. Jack Single is right here, him and Liam Riley are directing a clip next week for us. We want to do that more, and hopefully we’ll become a sort of lighthouse that can facilitate…that can make sure the right creatives are working on the right musician’s acts.
It’s so refreshing to be around other people who are creative, who know about lenses, who can be nerds. I can’t do that with my family, or most of my friends. But having friends you work with, and have the same goals, that’s exciting. That’s the team we’re building.