Lou Tonner

Managing Director of Wander Films, Grove Hill

Sector: Digital and Media

Lou Tonner grew up in Grove Hill and describes her younger self as being “painfully shy”. But after travelling the world with partner Chloë Clover, she is now managing director of Wander Films, a video marketing company in Middlesbrough.  

Where do you call home? 

I grew up in Grove Hill in Middlesbrough, but I now live in Redcar. I’m super proud of where I come from and after travelling the world, I appreciate home so much more!  

Tell us about your role?  

I am the managing director of Wander Films. I founded the company with my partner, Chloë Clover. We are a video marketing company, creating cool content for brands up and down the country so they can #beatthescroll on social media. I lead a team of 13 people and create measures to ensure that our growth targets are hit.  

How did you get to where you are today? 

I studied a foundation degree in TV & film production at CCAD (now the Northern School of Art) and then a BA (hons) in television & film production. I did freelance work but focused on my career in the police until I went travelling. After finding work on some TV pilots in Sydney, Chloë and I bought a camera and a laptop and started travelling Australia and South East Asia, making videos for tourism businesses. We moved back home to focus on Wander Films and three years later we are a team of 13 and work with clients all over the UK! There were lots of steps in between but we got there by believing in our potential and taking the leap, even though we didn’t feel like it was ever the right time.  

What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way? 

I think my biggest challenge was not feeling ready. I didn’t think people would take us seriously at first. Shifting that mindset isn’t easy but as soon as we looked at it from an “anything is possible” point of view, things started changing. It was also challenging coming back to the UK not knowing anyone. We had been out of the country for around 14 months, so no one was aware of who we were.  

Describe the moment you first got a feel for success? 

There are a few moments! The first one was when we thought of the idea of Wander and bought the camera. We knew at that moment we had to make it work and we found work from that day. The second time was when we were in Cambodia and we up sold the client a “teaser vid” from the footage. I think we only got paid an extra $40 but at that time (and considering an average meal was only $1) we were buzzing! We still get that feeling when we deliver videos, win a new contract, hire a new team member etc. Success is different for everyone but for us, it’s about enjoying what we do.   

Do you have any advice for aspiring young females? 

My advice would be to go for it. What have you got to lose? Surround yourself with people you find inspirational too. It’s easy to fall into a career because it’s the easy thing to do but if you enjoy something, there is always a way to make it work!  

What advice would you give to your younger self?  

Don’t be too hard on yourself. I was painfully shy and even today, despite running a busy video marketing company, I still feel uncomfortable on the phone. Take every opportunity and go for it! 

What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?  

Focus, dreams, goals.

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