We had the good fortune of connecting with Ben Scharffbillig and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ben, what do you attribute your success to?
Efficiency. I make efficiency a pillar in my approach to business and life in general. Any time I engage with new client, they realize that I want to maximize our time together and deliver upon their expectations. I find that being prepared by developing a plan and sticking to it is the key to producing desired results. Having clear laid out expectations of deliverables is critical before you even hit the record button. Being focused on the task at hand helps make for an efficient shoot, which has only become harder over the years. As a freelancer who works project to project, I focus on what the client has hired me to do that day and give them 100% effort for the time that they have hired me, leaving emails and phone calls from other clients until later.
The older I get, the smarter, not harder, I try to work. It has become easier to do because of the breath of experience I am able to draw upon. I have been fortunate to be able to freelance in many different environments and in many different roles that have helped me develop a well rounded approach to the film/video industry. The guidance I received from my mentors or the years has shaped the way I approach business and helped me hone the style of filming that I produce. In an artistic field, having your own style is a way to differentiate yourself from others and can solidify relationships with clients and colleagues.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
It has taken me a long time to really consider myself an artist. I got a late start in my field and didn’t pick up a camera professionally until 21 years old, and it took many years there after before I understood that what I was doing with the camera could be considered art. I have a business and technical background which has given me a solid base to allow for the artistic development to eventually come through. I started in the film and video industry right around the time that the High Definition and digital revolution was happening and being and young hungry new freelancer, I was able to dive in head first to grasp the new technology.
I feel very fortunate that I was able to go through the apprenticeship model and have great guidance in my early years in the business. There was a cross over during that time in that the older professionals that I started working with were able to help me understand the aspects of the art that I didn’t have formal training or schooling for, and I could help them with the new technical aspects of cameras and production.
I have always prided myself on my work ethic and come from a long linage of blue collar hard working folks. I was able to separate myself from others by dedicating myself to honing my skills through working hard and paying attention to the little details, ultimately trying to not make the same mistake twice. I worked hard to develop my raw talent and turn it into skills that make me able to pay attention to those details in order to anticipate and over come complications. The physical side of things was easy, but the metal side of the things was were the real difficulty came in. The lesson of being great at your job, but not fun to work with became very apparent after my first years of success in my industry. I have lately focused so much more on creating a positive working environment and being a more pleasant person to work with. Good results generally comes from good teamwork, and being a positive member of the team leads to being referred and rehired, which is the ultimate compliment and feedback you can get in my industry.
I tell people all the time that freelancing isn’t easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Every production has its own set of challenges and it is that variety that keeps me coming back. Everyday, the earth keeps spinning and with that, content that consumers are looking for is continually changing. I have learned that being current and continuing to push boundaries and trying new things while still maintaining the fundamentals have been key to my success. I enjoy working with different companies/brands that all have different needs and then being able to deliver on those expectations is all the pay off I need.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First off, anybody visiting me better come in the winter! I have been able to travel this great state of Arizona from corner to corner and have discovered that Arizona has a ton to offer. I have a great appreciation for good food and drinks so Phoenix offers plenty of places to do just that. A great patio with good conversation is all I need for a good time with friends. The weather here in the winters allows us to do so many things that the rest of the country is jealous of. I think getting some great food and golf in for a few days in Phoenix would be a great way to start off a trip, but to truly enjoy AZ, you need to get out on the open road. Sunsets in Sedona and snow capped Flagstaff are easy boxes to check and are must see places to help round out a trip to the desert. While up in that part of the state, of course you need to see the Grand Canyon. I have been there many times and I use every trip to remind me of the age of the earth and where we are in the grand scheme of things.
I have lived in Arizona now for over half of my life, and make it a point to try and enjoy as many of the Mom & Pop types of places in order to support other small business. There are very diverse people in Arizona and many have stories to tell. Wherever I go, I want to be able to enjoy the history of our young state and engage with the locals.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout goes to my better half, my wife Kimberly. She is another small business owner who is dedicated to her craft of esthetics. Being small business owners, we are able to share in benefits of being our own bosses while also having the sympathy to understand all the additional responsibilities that come with owning your own business. She supports me through the intensity and uncertainties that come with my job. She constantly reminds me about maintaining the work/life balance of things and keeps me grounded. We are a great team and have common goals for our businesses even though they are in very different industries. With me being in an artistic field, she is a great sounding board for me to bounce new ideas around but also venting frustrations that come along with doing business. Over the years she has given me the confidence and encouragement I need to help continue to pursue my aspirations and solidify my reputation in my industry.