How Love for the Work Overcame a Minuscule Budget

A Production Company Reminds Me How Much Fun This Can Be

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Bart Cleveland
Bart Cleveland
I am working on a commercial with a minuscule budget. It's a very simple idea, so we should be able to pull it off with a little help from the right production company. We bid it out and get enthused responses. This gives me hope that this micro-budgeted creation will live up to its potential. Then a new contender emerges. Someone not previously on our radar, recommended by a friend. I look at the reel and think they have too much high-budget work to be interested in my little job.

To my surprise they bid the job. When we review the storyboard with them they are so enthusiastic and so full of ideas. I believe the budget can't support most of what they say they want to do (they insist they can do it), but their enthusiasm blows me away.

We wait for the number, supposing it will be much higher than the range we gave them. To our surprise, the bid came in line with the budget. So they get the job and we meet face-to-face. The enthusiasm continues with even more ideas to enhance the concept. All of this attention prompts me to ask one of the company's partners why they are willing to go all out on such a small job. He said, "Your budget is your budget, but your idea is an opportunity and the timing is right. It will be a great spot."

This is too good to be true. These guys really can't be about the work first. Maybe they're just desperate? I'm confident that there will be a call for more money. It always happens that way.

It didn't.

The final pre-production meeting with my client begins. The director is showing the shooting storyboard and costumes, skillfully describing the final spot. His energy is infectious. My client is ecstatic. My creative team is more excited than ever. I lay in my hotel bed that night thinking how long it's been since I've had this much fun.

The next day we shoot the commercial. I'm feeling a little uneasy. When will the disappointment come? When will the fa├žade fall?

It doesn't.

Passion gets permission to come out and play. Though we're on a tight schedule, we are able to polish the work because the crew is running like a Swiss watch.

It's been a while since I've worked with a company so on fire about a job. Granted, with my small budgets it's understandable. But this company obviously loves what they do. They are successful, so it's also obvious they know getting paid is important. But maybe to them the thought of being paid well for bad work leaves an unpleasant taste in their mouths? Maybe making great work is just too much fun to pass on? No matter what the reason, I'm grateful to be the recipient of such good fortune.

Just when I thought the passion to do work for the work's sake was all but dead, these guys prove that the belief in the importance of quality work is alive and well. They made me look in the mirror and ask myself if I'm giving the same effort to my clients.

Who am I talking about? Zoic Studios in L.A. Check them out. You'll count your blessings if you get the chance to do something with them. They make creating fun again.

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