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An authentically American firm with an Englishman’s heart Very few British facilities firms succeed in the US but one is doing just that in New York and is about to embark on an ambitious expansion. TV-BAY meets the founder by Will Strauss A merica has always been a land marked by pioneers and trailblazers, by entrepreneurship and vision. So, in 2004, when London based equipment hire firm HotCam sought to expand, founder Trevor Hotz could think of no better place to be. “Back then a lot of our competitors were opening up in Manchester and Glasgow but that didn’t appeal to me,” says Hotz. “I’d first visited New York for a shoot back in 1982 while making the show Everyman – Miracle of Intervale Avenue for the BBC and it always seemed like a city that I could live in” HotCam’s success was fueled by this commitment to relationships; a client-centric model that emphasized support, education, quality, and consistency. A model that continues to win the firm major accounts to this day on both continents. So, when the reality wave began to break on the shores of the United States in the early 2000s, expansion seemed natural and recces began. “After my first visits in ’82 inspired me, returning to New York with a new vision and purpose only reinforced my initial impressions of the city,” continues Hotz. “I knew this was where I wanted to be” Fast-forward 30 years and HotCam New York is the preeminent destination for factual and reality TV producers in the US and BAFTA Award winning sound mixer Hotz is not just its CEO but also its visionary. The strongest catalyst for the move to New York came from Optomen’s Executive in Charge of Production Maria Silver who, at that time, was a Production Executive at BBC Production USA. In his Manhattan office is a vintage US flag with only forty-eight of today’s fifty stars. It symbolizes the company’s identity: an authentically American firm with an Englishman’s heart that is shaped around values largely lost in the industry today. “We met, by chance, at Soho House,” explains Hotz. “I told her I was thinking about opening an office in New York and she said “Do you know what? You should because you do things the right way.” And that was it. I was sold on the idea.” Before New York, it was London that benefitted from these values. With commitment matched to vision work began. Back in 1998, London was at the forefront of the wave of reality TV programming that would eventually re-shape the broadcast landscape. A second trouvaille led to a partnership being formed with the New York based audio house Jim Flynn Rentals and it was from that relationship that HotCam USA was born. Hotz, along with friend and colleague Alistair Cameron, had a vision for a different kind of company that would service this emerging market. “For any Brit, going to the States is very hard,” admits Hotz. “At the time I wasn’t able to open a bank account let alone an office. And getting financial credit to buy gear was almost impossible. Meeting Jim, becoming partners and working with him enabled me to get into the US system. Jim really helped me and he helped the company. He gave us a real head start.” Specializing in documentary and factual programming, HotCam went about its business in a quiet and efficient fashion, putting an emphasis on supplying high quality kit and developing a rapport with clients rather than simply ‘shifting boxes’, the approach that was commonplace in the TV industry at that time. 64 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE Hotz bought out Flynn’s previous investors and then, in early 2005, set-up shop in New York, taking a whole floor in a building on 21st street in Manhattan.