'Our Catherine' Picks up her first award...


Our 2018 drama Our Catherine has picked up the award for Best Regional Focus at the 2019 Sunderland Shorts Film Festival - the event was an absolute joy to be a part of, and we thank SSFF for the opportunity. Not to turn this into an Oscar acceptance speech or anything, but we’d also like to thank out very small but passionate & dedicated band of cast and crew (Kerry Browne, Mark Beckham, Rachel Adamson, Sarah Parry, Debbie Thompson, Tom Kelly) - you guys are incredible, and every time someone messages us to voice their emotional resonance with the film, there’s a pang of gratitude for you all and your efforts into bringing our vision to life. It truly was a labour of love, and we’re so pleased such is being recognised. Thank you also to Richard Barber and The Word for commissioning the project, and giving us the freedom with it that you did.

Our Catherine tells a universal and transcendent tale through the lens of the famous North East England born author, Catherine Cookson, as she revisits the places of her youth in modern time, reflecting on the cultural and personal impact of her writing.

Our Catherine Trailer.
Our Catherine Full Film (16min).

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Advertise & grow your business with Unified

View our latest Facebook advert for local business, Sapphire Studios


There’s never been a better time to make what you love your life, by starting up a business of your own. So what makes ‘now’ so special?

It’s no secret: social networking is massive. Geet massive. ‘Geet’ means ‘very’, if you’re not from our neck of the woods. So it’s very massive. So that’s one of the reasons it’s never been a better time to start and grow a small business. Something else is fairly obvious in this equation, and it’s that advertising works. That’s why businesses pay literally millions of dollars to have their services and products advertised during something like the Super Bowl. And that’s just for the slot - never mind the production costs of the advert itself.

These days, effective advertising isn’t something only enormous businesses and corporations can afford. Although television & print advertising remains effective, the internet has levelled the playing field somewhat. Or at the very least, it’s given new businesses a way of targeting and exposing themselves to their audiences for prices that are actually affordable to most people.

Facebook, for example, allows business owners to set themselves up and promote themselves organically for free - with an option to take advantage of their marketing and targeting algorithms for small amounts of money. Of course, you can reach more people with more money, but the scaling is something every tier of budget can afford. From £10 to £10,000 - you set your budget, and the amount you pay determines the amount of people who will see your advert. And you get to choose exactly who sees your advert, so only the folk who are likely to be interested in your product will be exposed to it. Once again, for peanuts, in a relative sense.

So the sudden ubiquitous nature of Facebook makes it much easier for people to actually start businesses, as they no longer require massive amounts of initial investment & risk just to get in front of people’s faces. You can inch forward in a way that’s comfortable with you, and commensurate with your growth.

But what are you going to advertise with? Well, another thing that’s shifted is how much more affordable it is to have adverts produced for you. Camera technology has come on considerably (as in, as is the case with all technological arcs - increasingly cheaper and more compact and accessible) and so now it’s possible to have a small video production business like ours to provide video content that is actually affordable to the majority.

It’s looking like the only way is up, as social networking isn’t likely to go anywhere any time soon. It’s here to stay, and with it the opportunities to provide other people with information in an immediate and cost effective way. If you’ve got a sound service and a competent product and you’re wiling to invest everything from a little to a lot, this is one of the best ways you can get it out there and in front of your audience. On a more general and thoroughly positive note, this whole situation is proving extremely beneficial for personal, national and global economic growth, too.

Not only are you improving your world, but the world, when you choose to start a business, and allow what you love and what you’re good at to fully manifest.

Why advertise & grow your business with Unified?

The problem with advertising is that there is a lot of it. People are savvy to the ways of advertising. They understand it more than ever, and more than ever are they aware of the disingenuous side of marketing. Not all businesses are truthful and operate on integrity - some use cheap tricks to sell their message, product or service, ranging from the manipulative to the full on deceptive.

As a result, advertising is like the boy who cried wolf - it can be hard to believe. We’re so used to being bombarded with messages that they’ve become trivialised. No longer do we believe that products can solve all of our problems, or claim to make us eternally happy if we buy them.

We do, however, know that products and services can and do benefit our lives, and have brought us a level of comfort, leisure and amenity never before seen in human history. We also know that there are people out there so competent, genuine and passionate about what they do, that they’re worth listening to, and worth our hard earned money. The issue is, if you are all of those things, how do you get that across to an audience in a way that makes it obvious that those things are true about you? Of course adverts are going to claim that the product is those things - but how does your audience know it can trust you?

That’s where we come in, we would say. And so would our clients. How we do things different, and how we promote your product or service is in that we tell the truth. We find the heart and the truth in your business, in you, in what you’re offering the world, and we hold up what is already there to your audience. We don’t create propaganda. We tell a story. The story of who you are, what you’ve created, and, truthfully, what you’re offering. If what you’ve created is something you’re good at, something you do well, then all we need to do is be honest about that in a creative and engaging way. You have to build trust between you and your customers, and the business that does that well, these days, for reasons mentioned earlier, are the ones that succeed and thrive. People are wise to the BS, it would seem, and so, only the truth will do.

So if you’re thinking of investing in a powerful trust-building tool such as an advertisement created for you by ourselves, get in touch. We’d love to talk to you about you, your story, and the most creative and effective way of making you the most natural choice to your customers.

- Jon & the boys @ Unified

Unified Story Ads - Mambos Express

Good day. I’m going to say that more often. Good day. I thought i’d share an Instagram/Facebook Story Ad we produced for MAMBOS EXPRESS, which offers restaurant quality Italian takeaway and delivery. That's pasta, risotto, and other Italian restaurant favourites delivered right to your flipping door, so that’s something to shout about.

Mambos Express is scheduled to be opening before Christmas rolls around, so if you’re from the South Tyneside area, love pasta and would very much like to have it delivered almost directly into your mouth, check them out at: https://mambosexpress.co.uk

Check out the story ad for Mambos Express below…

A New Way to Advertise

Leon, the owner of Mambos and all-round excellent chap, wanted to advertise his upcoming venture in a manner very much befitting the times. What do I mean by that? Well, stories. Stories are massive, and getting more massive by the day. Instagram Stories have “attracted more than 400 million daily users and changed the way people share and consume things online” (source) and so a new way of advertising is emerging through these platforms.

Though technology seems to be moving at lightning speed, and anything you can factually claim about the state of it is subject to change, it is clear that at the moment, the potential for reaching audiences through this platform is massive. Stories are interesting “because they’re full-screen in the mobile-native vertical format”, which makes them “instantly engaging, especially on larger smartphones.” Instantly engaging, eh? Brand-owners everywhere are and should be taking note.

We are too, and that’s why we’re offering Unified Story Ads, which allow our clients to take advantage of the “fastest-growing media format ever” to promote their brand. Sure, filming things in the vertical format is taking some getting used to, but like we said, the world is moving fast, and it makes sense to move with it.

Get in touch to talk about your businesses instragram/facebook story ad. It may well be the leg up your brand needs.

Much love,

Jon & the boys @ Unified

A film we made for England Rugby

If you’ve watched our latest video blog (featured in the last blog post) you’ll know that we recently worked on a film for England Rugby. The film was used as part of England Rugby’s Keep Your Boots On campaign, which encourages future-match officials out there to take the challenge and take the whistle.

We really enjoyed working on this one, especially as our experience with it has shown us just how much individuals can benefit themselves and others by taking on a responsibility such as rugby match-officiating. For many out there, it may well be their path to being their best selves, and so we’re chuffed to have played a part in that.

Much love,

Jon, and the boys at Unified.

Unified Edits - Women & Girls Rugby Refereeing


Join the boys as they edit a scrumwhat challenging promotional video brief from England Rugby...


Earlier this year, we were tasked with producing a video for England Rugby. They'd seen our film for Durham County RFU Women & Girl's Rugby and thought we might be up to the task of an even more challenging brief... The brief was simply this - make a promotional film that encourages women & girls to get into rugby refereeing. This presented an interesting challenge. Thankfully, I'd personally been developing the more orderly and disciplined side of myself for the past few years, and so the timing for this project worked out really well, given that the projects are written by myself and Ryan. Write what you know, so they say, and that's definitely what we ended up doing.

One thing that we know is that I was once so disorganised and scatterbrained that I flooded my Mam's house by leaving the shower on for too long. One too many mishaps like this later, and life eventually taught me to get my act together and develop my more organised, structured side. And i'm happy to say I did that, to the benefit of myself and everyone around me - particularly my mam, bless her. The point is, I committed to being a better me and succeeded, and that very much ended up being the theme of the video. In fact, all of us at Unified have done that in our own way. We couldn't have built Unified if we hadn't. 

The experience of making the film got us thinking about how you could make valid comparisons between life and a game. Like any game, you can play it badly or play it well. Fairly or unfairly. Truthfully, or untruthfully. The game of life has rules, which you can uphold the values of by telling the truth and being responsible and putting in the necessary effort to be your best self. In that sense, what we're all learning is to be the better referee of for our own lives. Blowing the whistle could be compared to having the guts to stand up firmly and say, "hey, that's not fair, you're not playing the game properly" on yourself, and on others - and having the courage to do so.   

So we wrote what we knew, and the final film wound up being a huge success with England Rugby. There's nothing better than hitting the mark on a brief, and of course rising to a challenge; whether it be in making a film, developing yourself, or indeed in something like becoming a rugby referee. 

We'll be releasing the full video on Monday along with England Rugby themselves, so let us know what you think, and be sure to watch the 1st edition of Unified Edits (above)which joins us during the edit of the film, working with our friend and England Rugby Union Player, Tamara Taylor, and being silly sausages who love their jobs.  

Much love,

Jon, and the boys at Unified

'8eyes' - an abstract glimpse into the lives and perspectives of Unified

A year or so back, each of us made three 15 second films for '8 Eyes', a feature we'd planned on doing regularly. At the time, our friend Kyle* was still part of Unified, hence eight eyes instead of six. Each 15 second film would then be cut together to make a single 1 minute film, possibly to work with Instagram if I remember correctly. I've often slammed the 60-second instagram cap, yet I suppose it can also give you a sort of finite condition and structure to work within, which can be good. I'll be doing a blog on that topic very soon, as it relates to a film we made this year for England Rugby, who hired us to take on a challenging brief after the success of our Durham RFU Women & Girls film.

But anyway - the motivation for this feature? Well since you asked, you see, the films we make as Unified Media are always filtered through the unified filter and joint-perspective of all of us, and so this was a sort of excuse to make something individually, where we could each produce a film without having it subject to feedback from each other. We just wanted to do something fun and just for us, some kind of Frankenstein film, where we'd stitch different body parts together to see if they wouldn't come to life.

There was only one criteria: each person's film had to in some way be representative of their own life (perspective/eyes) at the time they were made, and so these are what resulted. They're definitely weirder and more abstract than our usual films, and perhaps that serves as a sort of metaphor for what we'd be like if we were each left to our own devices. In any case, I've always really like watching these, and find them deeply evocative of the time they were made. The music was also produced by our very own Ryan, which gives them a veneer of heightened 'us-ness'. 

We did three lots of them before shifting our attention to films for clients, and so like my 6th hamster once my family finally got a puppy (sorry, Hammie) '8 Eyes' was kinda' neglected. There's a good chance we'll do more in future, but these are the full wack for now.  

Anyway, here they are. We hope you enjoy, and as always, let us know what you think!

- Jon, and the boys at Unified

*Kyle will always be the 4th member of Unified, though he has since moved on to other creative endeavours. We'll be putting out a full blog about him soon, as he's a fundamental and crucial part of the Unified story, and one of our best friends. Enough of the mushy Sh-.... show of emotion, though, it's time for the films...

The Call to Adventure, our 3rd Birthday, and a brand new website

Get ready for the launch. Well actually, it’s already launched. You’re on it right now. That’s right - it’s our new official Unified Media website. Huzzah!

So why a blog post about it? Well, it’s not just the site launch we’re excited about. This week, it’s also Unified Media’s 3rd birthday. And that’s got us thinking where we’ve come from, where we are, and what it took to get here.

To say ‘a lot has happened’ in that three years would be like saying ‘music’ is ‘noise’ - it just doesn’t do it justice. In the last four years (Unified took about a year to properly materialise), as mentioned in our about section, we all left our jobs and started Unified together, and set off on a journey none of us could have possibly envisaged.

You could say that we heeded the call to adventure.

Here we are shooting drone footage in the almost-too-stunning-to-be-real Mount Snowdonia in Wales. Notice me (Jon) itching my head profusely? 

You see, there’s this idea in mythology known as ‘the call to adventure’, which is the part in the story where the hero is invited to - you guessed it - embark on an adventure. Most stories you’ll find contain this idea. It’s Luke Skywalker being invited by Obi-Wan to accompany him in rescuing the princess & learning the ways of the force; it’s Bilbo Baggins being beckoned by Gandalf to ‘share in an adventure’ and face the dragon. It’s there, time and time again, in thousands of great stories.

There’s been more than just a few seriously insightful thinkers in history who have suggested that our individual lives contain these moments and themes, just like that of a character from a film or story. The suggestion is that each of us is the hero in our own story, and that we are ‘invited’ to heed the call time and time again in life. Most commonly, the call is that part of you that knows there’s something better you could be doing with your time. It’s the voice in your head that nags at you to make a huge change in your life for the better. Let us tell you, for each of us, before we started Unified, that voice was always there, nagging away, making us aware we weren’t quite living up to our potential. Before we started Unified, we’d ignored and repressed the life we knew we really wanted for a guaranteed amount of money in our bank accounts at the end of the month. Adventure had taken a backseat to safety. Sure, we might have been unfulfilled and constantly at odds with ourselves about our lives, but at least we knew the rent would always get paid on time.

But the voice, the call, kept coming. Culminating in a freakishly coincidental manner one summer week, where circumstances unfolded in a way where, at the time, it was essentially now or never for us. All of a sudden, we had to choose, and make up our minds once and for all. Some people refer to this as ‘shite-ing or getting off the pot’. This was our Gandalf inviting us, beckoning us forward. We knew what we had to do, if we had the guts to do it. And that was to go into business for ourselves, to be our own bosses, and to make films together for a living and as a way of life. To blur that line between work and play, once and for all.


Of course, on any adventure worth hearing about, challenge is part and parcel of the journey. A lot of people, or rather us in our old lives, would refer to ‘challenges’ as ‘problems’, or something that we simply wished didn’t have to happen. But, just like Luke must contend with the forces of evil, and Bilbo must face down the dragon if they hope to become better, wiser and more powerful, we too had our fair share of dragons to face if we knew we ever going to get the treasure. Our dragons came in the face of some of the following, to name a few… financial strife, serious illness, existential crises, consistent challenges involved in shifting one’s attitude about the world, and what is possible within it. The obvious challenges that arise from trying to improve your life. It’s not a walk in the park, nor should it be, because maybe then it wouldn’t be worth all that much.

Maybe that’s why the great scholar of mythology, Joseph Campbell, advised us to ‘follow your bliss’, but later reconsidered his wording and said he should have stated, ‘follow your blisters’, as that would perhaps be a more fitting description of the hero's journey, which is likely to challenge you to your very core. In other words, in order to get the gold, you’ve gotta’ face the dragon. It’s the very meaning implied in the phrase no mud, no lotus.

The dragon in this instance being a fancy metaphor for everything that was holding us back; insecurity, confidence issues, fear of the future not working out - all of the classic stuff common to human beings. I suspect some of you are thinking, but why? Why the flip would you say yes to something like that? Well, maybe because saying yes to the adventure, although undoubtedly challenging, is actually the least painful thing you can do. Does that sound paradoxical? Maybe it does, but perhaps if we think about it like this... What’s more painful? Experiencing the inevitable challenges that life throws at you in the life you want to be living, or have to face all of the inevitable challenges of life within a life that feels so alien and un-you that you can barely get out of bed on a morning. How are you going to face those challenges from that place? Surely that would be a thousand times harder. Thankfully, we might never realise just how hard that could really get. Personally however, I’d feel some semblance of how hard it could be every Sunday night, where I’d dread the working week ahead, never mind the unexpected challenges that life can throw at you on top of that. That's 5 days out of 7 every single week that I wished just wish would go away, even when things were otherwise going well. For example, no serious illness to contend with, no deaths in the family or any other manner of tragedy that can, do & will occur in life. 

Maybe we could put it like this... though, don't take this to be preachy or self-helpie. When we say 'you', we're speaking to the general, all-inclusive you, which really is us speaking of ourselves, and by implication, everyone else, if that makes sense. We're in no means telling people how they should live their lives - just what has worked for us, and what really seems to work for others. So with that said, maybe it's something like this: When you're living your life, even the hard parts feel like they’re meant for you. They feel appropriate, they make sense, they fit in to the story of you. They’re challenges, but they’re yours, and you can see how they’re inviting you to be better in a way that makes sense, if your life was a story, which of course, it is.

And maybe that’s basically right. Because the journey unfolded (or is unfolding) in a manner a lot like that.

Perhaps that’s where the new website is sort of symbolically relevant. It’s cleaner, better, more reflective and more appropriate to who and where we are, as a business, as filmmakers, as friends, as individuals. It’s a symbol of what we’ve been through, and who we’ve become as a result. It’s more refined, like the smooth stone you find on the beach that is so smooth because it’s had the hell beaten out of it by the powerful force of the ocean. How’s that for a metaphor, eh? EH.

Perhaps this post runs the risk of becoming an autobiography, so we’ll leave it there. Though, I reckon we’ll sum up with a quote from the philosopher, Terence Mckenna, for those we might be toying with heeding their own call to adventure...

“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it's a feather bed.”

Have you, or do you plan on heeding the call to adventure in your life?

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Give us a comment, because we’d love to know about it. Until then, we hope you enjoy the new website, because to us, it's so much more of a truthful reflection of who we are. Cleaner, more refined, more established, and works better than ever. Who knows what the next one will be like. The hero's journey is full of surprises.

- Jon, and the boys at Unified


If you’ve enjoyed reading our blog you can head over to our Portfolio or About section to learn more about us :)

Jack was given two weeks to live. The first thing he did? Marry his partner, Emma...

Seeing as this video doesn't quite have a place in our portfolio, I thought I'd share it with you all blog-side. It's too moving a story not to. 

This is the story of Jack & Emma Kane, who were married in the Autumn of last year, shortly after Jack was diagnosed with an inoperable cancerous tumour on his spine. He was informed at the time that he should expect only a few weeks to live. 

Jack said that the sudden and unexpected turn in his life shone a light on the most important thing to him - his partner, Emma. Almost immediately after receiving the bleak prognosis, Jack asked Emma to marry him. They were wed whilst Jack was undergoing treatment at James Cook University Hospital only a few days later. 

I'd heard of Jack & Emma's story through my fiancée, who works at James Cook, and it just floored me. All that Jack wanted in the face of something so tragic was to take a sacred, undying oath to the love of his life, and to pass peacefully whilst his wife held his hand.

Man. That really is something. In fact, it might may well have been the most inspiring and downright moving things i'd ever heard. It's the kind of thing that just leaves you bereft of words to describe just how beautiful it is. 

On the day, Jack's smiles, jokes and warmth made for a wedding that could have so easily been sad, but instead was life-affirming and truly, truly beautiful. Don't take my word for it. Check out Jack and Emma's wedding film, below, which we gave them as a wedding present. Thier story caught the attention and hearts and minds of the region, with the film being featured on ITV regional news.

One year on, and we're happy to report that Jack is still with us, and that he and Emma are expecting a baby together. His health has been up and down, and the story is ongoing, but the fact is that Jack was able to look something so scary in the face and respond with almost nothing but love. And we just find that incredibly inspiring. 

Much love to the Kane family,

From Jon, and the boys at Unified.

Lil Fellas - The 1st Edition

Hello, dear reader. We thought you might be interested in some of the films we've made individually/together over the years. Some weird. Some interesting. All too misc to be in our portfolio. We make a lot of films for fun (or for friends and family) that are like the unwanted siblings of the Unified family, cast into the attic. Not hid from the world, but it's like, you'll have to climb up there to see them. 

Anyway, here's four of them to begin with. We'll call these videos 'Lil Fellas', as that seems to be what I (Jon) call everything that I can't immediately recall or think of a name for. Yeh. That'll do.

In this edition of Lil Fellas, we've got (from left to right on the grid)...

  • 'Being' - This is the *first ever* film we made together as Unified. It's aged well in some ways, not so well in others. Though, I can't watch it without tuning into that feeling of starting up Unified and how exciting it was to go from a teaching job to making films with my friends. Lovely song by Craig Armstrong in there, too. He did the theme for Love Actually. See how it makes you feel. Coz it makes me feel. Even with that old-school DSLR footage.

  • The Stealthy Rollers Workshop Session - This one's a live music performance video we did with our friends Emily & Bethan of the Stealthy Rollers. Though our approach seems a little dated to us now, you can't fault the Rollers' performance, which is a powerful arrangement of 'Under the Same Sun' by Ben Howard and 'I Will Wait' by Mumford and Sons. By jove, they're talented.

  • South Shields Sunset - This is a 4k drone video featuring an iconic South Shields (our hometown) view, set to music that we recorded when Ryan & I were in a band together. That's one way around finding licence free music.

  • 'Barcelona' - A film shot entirely on my iphone 5 using Hyperlapse (cool app that allows you to get smooth tracking shots) when I went to Barcelona with my now-fiancée, Emma. I was actually really quite ill during this holiday, so I distracted myself from the immense physical discomfort with filming. See what you think. Some amazing street performances & beautiful sights and sounds that made all that worthwhile.

That's all for edition 1. Let us know what you think by leaving a wee comment, and be sure to keep checking back for future Lil Fellas.

- Jon @ Unified

Source: www.unifiedmedia.org.uk