[Podcast] Ep85: Navigating the Confusing (And Often Dishonest) World of Spec Work

Sometimes to get noticed in the creative world you have to bite the bullet and take spec work (pitching or producing work that you may or may not get paid for). 50 years ago that meant pitching ideas to a large corporation (e.g. General Motors), and if they liked your ideas you won a multi-million dollar account.

In today’s world doing spec work is infinitely more complicated with crowdsourcing sites like 99 Designs, contests like the Doritos $1 million dollar Super Bowl commercials, and endless competition with template and stock companies that can provide entire packages for companies and individuals at affordable prices.

In this episode I discuss how to navigate the ever-changing world of spec work with post-production industry veterans Walter Biscardi and Shane Ross. Whether you are a seasoned vet figuring out how to survive in our rapidly shifting industry, or you are just breaking in and can’t figure out if spec work is worth it, we cover everything we can.

Topics of Conversation:

  • Using templates versus hiring a editor/designer
  • How to decide if doing spec work is right for you
  • The difference between pitching a project and creating one for free
  • The changing landscape of pricing in the creative free market
  • Why 99 Designs is doing business the right way
  • Learning to value your own work
  • Ask yourself: “Do I retain the rights to my creative content?”
  • What an ideal relationship between a client and creator should look like
  • Difficulties of breaking into the film industry
  • Developing a portfolio from scratch
  • Should you use templates or hire a designer?
  • Tips for up-and-coming creators
  • Connecting with your clients directly
  • Eliminating the middle man

Useful Links:

Making It In Hollywood as a “Creative” with Norman Hollyn

Ep17: Is Taking Free Work Really Worth It? | with Alan Bell, ACE

99 Designs

Shane Ross: Little Frog in High Def

Walter Biscardi

Guest Bios:

Walter Biscardi, Jr. is an accomplished video producer and storyteller serving a global clientele from his home base near Atlanta, Georgia. He founded his creatively driven company to bring quality video storytelling to all media driven projects. Corporate marketing & messaging, training & safety, original broadcast and web series, documentaries and feature films are some of the ways Walter and his team bring stories to life every day.

Shane Ross is a freelance editor residing in Los Angeles. He has cut shows for History Channel, Discovery, National Geographic, Disney and Nickelodeon. He’s an avid bicyclist, husband, and father to three amazing young ladies.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, the show notes were prepared by Jakin Rintelman, and this show is executive produced by Kanen Flowers. We are a member of the THAT STUDIO podcast network.

The music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Dorian Cheah from his brilliant album ARA

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, and the creator of the Optimize Yourself program. Zack helps ambitious creative professionals and entrepreneurs overcome procrastination, depression, and creative burnout so they can get sh*t done and achieve the most meaningful goals in their lives...without sacrificing their sanity in the process. If you’re interested in learning how to better manage your time, your energy, and develop ninja-like focus, download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”