Jen got most of it right, but she forgot one critical part. This is a part as a producer, she wouldn't see because it happens before she is hired by the director. The ad agencies usually select 3-4 directors to bid on the project. Then each director has to write a treatment and a full on visual presentation of how they would execute the spot. These treatment are elaborate and not cheap to execute. Because it's so competitive and as she says, a shit ton of money is at stake, these treatments get pretty outrageous and can cost thousands of dollars. The fact is, if you can't put together a good treatment, you just won't get the job. that simple. So, you can have the best reel in the group, but if you don't have a vision, or are unable to sell your vision on demand, you just won'r work! Period. Commercial directors have to give good phone and have to be able to nail the treatment. Re: spec spots......Jen is right... If you dare to go shoot a spec piece for say... Nike, do yourself a favor, watch a bunch of Nike ads and make sure yours can live in that group. Your ultimate audience for that spec piece will be the people who created the real Nike ads. Writing and selling ads is a difficult craft. Nothing annoys an agency creative more than seeing a spec ad that no client would ever buy or no network would ever run. And the truth is: shooting a spec ad isn't a true test of your abilities. Having a client, 4 creatives, two producers (yes, two! one agency and one production house) a team of suits, and sometimes lawyers breathing down your neck on set is the real test. All their jobs are on the line and they all have an opinion and usually a mountain of research that pretty much tries to crush all creativity. Try directing your spot on time , on budget with that circus behind you! When the ad agency sees your reel, they consider all of that before they even send you the storyboard. Spec spots are a tricky balancing act. While you want to show off, try to do so within the strategies of the brand. My advice: Don't shoot a spec spot for a giant brand. Do something smart for a smaller lesser known brand. the scrutiny will be less. I've been directing commercials for 30+ plus years and I can tell you the success of spec spots is very hit or miss. I started as an agency creative and switched over to directing. While on the agency side i saw hundreds of spec spots on director's reals....and I would say very few were so impressive that i took note. Remember, when you present a reel of spec spots, nobody says "oh but look, he's only a beginner, let's give him a break". Putting that reel out there says you are ready to compete with the big boys.There is a reason 30K day rates exist. A good director earns it!
you forgot no. 8.....Don't listen to any of this nonsense
I think it's a little late for a fiery death. After 30 years, I'm the one that'll be blowing it up! I have worked on the agency side and continue to work with creatives as a director daily. Spec spots don't impress. Period. But as i said in my previous post. They do have value in the
lessons learned. But don't expect Nike or Tesla or
Pepsi to come running to hire you......it doesn't happen that way and never will.
it's just the way it is. https://vimeo.com/212339852
If you are trying to get real work as a commercial director, the answer to the headline is: NO! Spec work doesn't impress ad agencies or clients. I've been directing commercials for 30 years and have shot 25 Super Bowl spots. I've seen it all. For the most part spec work pisses professionals off. It's not playing by the same rules. Writing and directing ads is a pressure filled multi million dollar gamble. Clients beating you up, breathing down your neck and agency creatives with jobs on the line won't risk their asses on un tested talent. Very seasoned and well trained professionals worked their way up for years to get that opportunity. Then one day you show up and say "Hey look what i did on the weekend" No client, no agency, no strategic message you have to deliver, no deadline, no network restrictions and no advertising standards to meet. Shooting a spec spot doesn't prove you can handle ANY of that. Most likely you won't be hearing from Tesla....or the agency. Unless you write a spot that strategically fits the product marketing campaign and branding, people in the industry can tell instantly it's spec. I've seen a lot of spec work over the years. I can tell you that most ad agencies and clients have a rule to not entertain unsolicited ideas. Spec work's value is in the personal experience you get from it. It's time on the set, it's learning the craft, it's dealing with talent, it's collaborating with DP's...all valuable experiences, but that's where it stops.
the best go pro tip I have is: throw it away and buy a real camera.
All of this is good, but the truth is: If you've got talent and a great reel, the rest takes care of itself. Director's will hunt you down, camera houses will solicit your business. Spend your time honing your talent. Nothing else matters.