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Spec ads! Do they work?

Hi Shooters

Hope you are well. Was wondering if anyone had any advice on the pros and cons of spec adverts?

Had a few meetings with production companies about filming commercials and all say that you need 'That Ad' before we can rep you.

I have filmed shorts and the odd advert here and there but nothing for a say a huge brand to take me to the next step.

Are spec ads worth it? do they work? Has anyone on here shot one and got repped? Should I approach a small brand first and offer up my services for free?

Any advice greatly appreciated

Simon
www.simonkmatthews.com

  • It's not a stratagey we've ever pursued, but I'm not one for business guru pep talks that "take their own case for a generality" (a phrase that can never be over used). It's business enterprise Simon.

    The only rule is to whatever you do well and with confidence. Commissioners, customers and just about everyone else who are soveriegn in their integraty and authourity react to reality more appreciatively than do box tickers who are mearly functionaries. If you have a compelling, creative, brilliant etc., thing then it's credible. If functionaries don't get it then going over their heads to their bosses might require a further creative strategy that can only enhance a good idea.

    3 weeks ago
  • It's not a stratagey we've nver pursued, but I'm not one for business guru pep talks that "take their own case for a generality" (a phrase that can never be over used). It's business enterprise Simon.

    The only rule is to whatever you do well and with confidence. Commissioners, customers and just about everyone else who are soveriegn in their integraty and authourity react to reality more appreciatively than do box tickers who are mearly functionaries. If you have a compelling, creative, brilliant etc., thing then it's credible. If functionaries don't get it then going over their heads to their bosses might require a further creative strategy that can only enhance a good idea.

    3 weeks ago
  • Oops!

    3 weeks ago
  • If they are saying, "we can't hire you for a big brand ad until you've done a big brand ad", they are lying. It's a brush off. They haven't seen anything they like, (but as John said, are you talking to the right person. If not, that's your goal).

    If they are saying, "we can't hire you for a big brand ad until you can show that you can deliver a big brand ad", that's slightly different. That means they want to see a WOW sample ad in your portfolio. And you haven't got one.

    FWIW I'd say there are two ways to WOW. Either invest in delivering a spec ad that shows that you can marshal the kind of production involved OR shoot a spec ad that has them going "how the **** did he do that? We love it" - probably because you used a technical trick that is either brand new, or that everyone has forgotten about (dig out your book of practical effects) or both.

    When I pitched my software idea back in 1993 (to a software house I needed to invest in writing it) I did it with a gorgeous 3d display (think relief map). But I knew even then that the actual software would be a 2d display, for exactly same reason that OS maps are 2d and not relief - it shows more information. But to make the sale I needed to WOW, so I did :-)

    3 weeks ago
    • Just be wary that some agencies will wholesale steal a gimmick or look or whatever, and you'll have a hard time proving it :,-(

      2 weeks ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin

      This is true. I guess when they say, "that's brilliant, how did you do that?", the correct answer is, "contract please :-)"

      2 weeks ago
    • @Marlom Tander Paddy's spot on with that reminder. We've been ripped off and abused in the past. Not any more though, one lives and learns. As the 'hippy TV company' it took us a couple of experiences to appreciate that not everyone shares the same moral compass. It's still necessary to engage with the amoral corporate establishment but the degree of necessity is waning. Corruption and misdirection is entrenched in many institutions. 'Stolen Valour' being amongst them. IMDB being one of the most vulnerable and misleading.They need to tighten up their verification systems.

      2 weeks ago
  • Thanks. never be one who is over protective about an idea as the spec ad is as Marlow said is to create 'Wow ad.'
    My reel is okay at the mo but not good enough for the big reps to want to use me. I know it that now so trying to address it. If not, worst case I made 'another' funny ad for the okayish reel.

    S

    2 weeks ago
  • I don't think reps mind whether your work is spec work or not, they're only interested in whether you're hot stuff or not.
    You know you have an 'okayish' reel at the moment, so you probably know you're not going to get signed with it.
    People with really high standards get signed, high standards meaning a commitment to making stand-out work, however that's realised.
    If it helps, come along to our events - we always show the best work that's been submitted, and we always have reps and commissioners doing a panel. You'll get a feel for what other people who want to get signed are creating - and you'll see some work from people who have recently been signed.
    Tonight is sold out I'm afraid, but you can join our mailing list to find out about future events at www.shinyawards.com
    all best, Caroline

    2 weeks ago
  • Ask the reps.

    I know people who make their living as extras or doing ads and corporate shoots, and they weren't the guys who wasted time with film festivals and spec films. After film school, they went straight to applying for paid work. (And they ignored the gurus too.)

    Why would they want "huge brand" ad experience anyway? You're an actor, so production values are not your responsibility. (Unless you're an a-lister who carries your own cinematographer around.) You just need something good enough to show what you can do.

    If you ran a production company, that's different. I get asked for spec clips all the time. But, for an actor or a writer, just use what you have. (Maybe get a better headshot.)

    Perhaps they want someone who isn't shy around celebrities, or they want someone who already has lots of work lined up. Or, maybe they're just trying to squeeze free work out of you (in which case, they're not professionals. Pros never trust actors who do ads for free.)

    Oh, and generally, I wouldn't trust people who hide behind logos. Avoid the likes of Raindance, Chris Jones, and the other bottom feeders who promote them. Spend the money on headshots and good acting training. (Make sure it's good training, a lot is rubbish.) Those are the only two cheques an actor should write, to the headshot photographer and for training.

    I would not offer your services for free either. You can get a token amount if you contact local industrial/corporate filmmakers. Talk to those who did shorts with you. Only work for free if the work is extremely fun or for a good cause, or it trains you to get to the next level. Don't do ads for free, that's like working in a bank for free. Do Children in Need for free, yeah, or PTA, or an official internship with the BBC maybe, but never ads.

    2 weeks ago
    • Hi Vasco
      Thanks for taking the time to reply. I am writer / director. Have filmed promos / commercials for the likes of BBC, UKTV and Virgin but reason I asked about the spec advert is that I hit a ceiling so to speak.

      My long form career is starting to move forward which I'm over the moon about but still want to keep my toe in the commercials. After conversations with production companies I understand I probably need some comedic / surreal spec ads on my reel to attract the work I would like to do.

      Not sure I agree with your Pros don't trust actors who do ads for free remark as have worked with a host of talented actors who have worked for free all be it on shorts etc Alway pay it forward.

      I completely understand you wouldn't work for free on an actual advert though.

      S

      2 weeks ago
    • Your headshot made me laugh though

      2 weeks ago
    • @simon Matthews the comment. Not yours in particular

      2 weeks ago
  • Hi Simon
    Forgot to mention, you get written feedback from 3 industry professionals if you submit work to Shiny. Might be useful to get some naked feedback? You can't choose which people/ companies, but they are typically EPs, Creative Directors, Reps, Heads of Content/ Music Video etc. all best, good luck, C

    2 weeks ago
    • Hi Caroline

      I've heard about your site through advertising peeps. I'll wait and see how the spec ad turns out first.
      Did a few shorts featured on directors notes if you fancy a look.

      directorsnotes.com/2018/11/14/simon-k-ma...

      2 weeks ago
    • @simon Matthews
      Hi Simon, oh that's good to know. Thanks for the link to your work on DN, I like your regular cast and the performances you get. Great idea to submit to DN - premiering/ features with them is definitely an email-opening statement. Very best, Caroline

      1 week ago
    • @Caroline Bottomley
      Much appreciated

      1 week ago