[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:

FiP Podcast Ep56: Advancing Your Career in Post (What They Don’t Teach You in Film School)

FiP Podcast Ep74: When You Should Take Free Work (And When You Should Run)

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 is an award-winning film & television editor (Burn Notice, Empire, Shooter, Glee), member of the American Cinema Editors, a documentary director (GO FAR: The Christopher Rush Story), and creator of the Optimize Yourself program (formerly ‘Fitness In Post’). He helps ambitious creative professionals like you learn how to more efficiently manage your time, energy, and attention so you can maximize your creative focus and minimize procrastination, depression, and burnout. After all, what’s the point of killing yourself for the sake of your career if you don’t have energy to spare for the most important people in your life?