Analyzing Samsung’s “We Are Greater Than I” Ad Campaign

Surfing has always been a lifestyle sport; it’s not an experience or just something you do, it’s life. And it has the power to control so many aspects of your life. From making you wake up before dawn, to last minute decisions that can affect the next several days of your life.

It’s Mother Nature, and we’re all at her mercy. When a swell arrives, suddenly everything becomes less of a priority. Or when the waves are bad, suddenly surfing is not an everyday priority.

Because of this instinct there has always been a tension with outsiders. Hollywood has never “gotten it” and non endemic advertisers have always been mocked for trying to capitalize on a “market.” But inherently this is impossible because we as surfers, see right through this. Their representations of us has never been defining or accurate.

The World Surf League (WSL) has gone through several changes over the last few years, largely in response to a rumored rebel tour. They got new ownership, changed the format of professional surfing, their name, and how the tour is presented to fans.

Some liked it, some hated it. Either way, it worked. The sport has grown, the surfing has improved and, of course, there’s more money to be had. There are also less parking spots at the beach these days.

The WSL signed up Samsung as their global partner, which is providing plenty of sponsorship dollars for the tour. Samsung has one goal: to sell more phones. To do this they want to reach as many people as possible and because they seem to have an endless budget they can do a lot with their advertising.

I cut my teeth in filmmaking in the action sports industry. I grew up surfing and have a formal education in film and more than a decade experience in production working with consumer products and lifestyle brands. Because of my background and experience, I’ve always dreamed of ways to showcase surfing in a legitimate manner, something Hollywood and non endemic brands have forever failed to do.

Until now. Samsung’s “We Are Greater Than I” campaign is pretty great. It’s the right mix of core surfing with mass appeal, something surfing has inherently failed to do.


Breaking Down We Are Greater Than I

The “We Are Greater Than I” campaign tells a story. It’s heartfelt and attractive. It’s understood by core surfers and intriguing to outsiders who only know of surfing as riding waves in the ocean.



Visually, it’s very pleasing. The composition of the shots are beautiful, and the coverage provides the audience with a good idea of each scene. Today’s audiences are smart and advertisers know this.

Advertisers know that audiences can piece together stories quickly with little context. The campaign has several different scenes, ranging from intense freezing cold environments, to shaping rooms, surfboard graveyards, and developing world country duck taping.

Anyone watching this commercial can identify himself or herself in there. The more experienced surfers will know what it’s like to surf in harsh environments or remember the fondness of learning to surf.

Beginners or Hawaii-vacationers-taking-surf-lessons-at-Waikiki will know what it’s like the first time you carry a board into the water and know the effort and drive needed to become a professional. The those who only view surfing from afar can appreciate it with aspiration.

These sensory elements are written all over the campaign. It’s smart, effective marketing strategy directed at a large, diverse audience.



Sound Design

To further drive this home the sound design is also great. The music is tense and serious, but has an element of inspiration and motivation. It makes you feel like you can do it, whether you might actually be able to or have no realistic chance of ever making it out of a deep one at Cloudbreak.

In reality, it doesn’t matter either way. It works. Connections are about making you feel something. And if Samsung makes that connection they will sell more phones.

In just a second or two each, they are able to connect with many different types of audiences. Those who have seen surfers making do with the bare remnants of a surfboard to those who have been asked to leave by “surf fascists.”

The sound design is how they reach and connect to such a wide and diverse audience.


The script stretches it somewhat, although the writing is great. It is somewhat repetitive and starts to enter that world where Hollywood doesn’t get it. It’s lofty, almost too lofty with lines that thank Kelly for “making it look too damn easy” and shows someone attempts a frontside reverse air. But it does remind us all of why we surf, and drives the story along with flow, which are ingredients for great script writing.

This is where they really appeal to the non core crowd. They bridge the gap between those that really know and understand to those who want to know and even to those who have no idea.


Does Samsung Surf?

Samsung is trying to connect with the audience through one or more of those scenes. If you can relate to one scene, Samsung hopes you’re much more likely to show interests in another scene or the rest of the commercial, as well as a smartphone or other electronic device.

But does Samsung care about surfing or the industry? Probably not- well, maybe they do. Just as much as they care about cycling.

The campaign is great because it’s well done, has great production value, and connects with it’s audiences. It’s thoughtful and meaningful and it will likely sell a lot of phones. There are a few disconnects and some room for improvement, but it’s the best campaign I’ve seen surrounding non endemic surfing.

“We Are Greater Than I” is an effective campaign that will inevitably bring more money into the sport of surfing. It’s going to bridge the gap between surfing as we know it today to the wave pool future where anyone in the world can surf.

If you think surfing is selling out now, we’re just getting started. Corporations are entering the sport to make money and when they see that the geographical limitations can be removed, it will open up a much larger market they will be the first ones to enter. Surfs up.


The New Wave

Samsung isn’t alone in their efforts. Advertising has changed. Not only with how brands can reach consumers but the way they’re doing it. They’re partnering with smart storytellers who can create that connection in a brand-positive way.

Expect to see more of this trend in the future. Once more marketers realize the effectiveness and catchiness of similar campaigns they won’t be far behind. It is a more enjoyable way to learn about a product. I don’t think selling out is accurate, but trendsetting (from an advertising perspective.) I should know as I work with brands on similar campaigns and can speak to the effectiveness.

Surfing is growing up. It’s no longer niche, it’s mass. It’s still core, but there will be layers added and marketers will take note.

What are your thoughts on brands taking risks with advertising and branding content? Let me know in the comments below.

Professional Networking Groups For Creatives

Professional networks are everything. As the saying goes, “it’s who you know.” I’ve learned the power of this after a dozen years working in video production. And production in particular, when nearly everyone is freelance or working job-to-job, this can be incredibly valuable. There have been countless times when I’ve been on set and heard someone say “Hey, what are you doing next week? I’m working on [insert job here] and they’re looking for another grip.”

The network we have access to is directly related to our success. Now that we live in the Internet & social age the geographic boundaries are removed.

So, let’s connect on LinkedIn and Facebook!

Skateboarder are always connect. Connect with us.

Storytellers, Filmmakers & Video Production Professionals

From the success of this blog, in a short amount of time, I’ve seen the power of connecting with like minded professionals. It’s been incredible to hear from readers of this blog who share the same passion that I do.

I love seeing other’s work that is inspiring or addresses a problem. I love hearing about new technology, equipment and overcoming adversity. Why? Because if I haven’t already been there, a similar situation will probably arise in the future.

I can be more prepared and produce better work. And I want you to have the same benefits and advantages that I have seen.

It’s who you know.

I know this can be scary and intimidating, so the goal is to foster a community that is beneficial for all. I created two groups, on LinkedIn and Facebook, so all of us can connect with each other. Please join us and contribute to this great community. Invite like minded professionals who you think will also benefit.

Here are the links to join:

LinkedIn – Storytellers, Filmmakers & Video Production Professionals
Facebook – Storytellers, Filmmakers & Video Production Professionals

See you there!

Inspiration and Fear in Creative Services

The Internet is great for people like me who create media that is primarily distributed online. The web is no longer broadcast’s little brother with limited reach to the select few with high speed internet access.

The reach is greater than any other distribution method, ever. Couple this with all the ancillary or supporting outlets such as social media and you have all the ingredients for solid distribution plan.

The Internet can also be a pretty daunting place. Big, scary and mean.

The scary internet

There’s an invisible shield people hide behind to speak the truth or voice opinions they otherwise would not. It’s almost as if they act like they can’t be caught, so without any ramifications or filters to stop them.

Beyond the noise and bullying there is so much content available screaming for your attention every way you turn. A lot it’s great content, too. It’s entertaining, funny, emotional, sad or moving.

It makes us laugh, cry, share and take action.

The goods news is that this provides plenty to look forward to. Plenty to aspire to. When I see a great short film online I get excited. It fires me up to see something within my reach and potential. After seeing someone else accomplish something I know can do it, too.

Or, I’ll make a mental bookmark knowing that I can take inspiration from it for an upcoming project. Note: a lot of people do just that.

Practice, take notes, learn, make mistakes, iterate, improve, rinse and repeat.

It’s also incredibly intimidating. Knowing that there are so many great content creators out there who can do better work than I can.

This caused me to be incredibly shy and reserved early in my career. It had a hugely negative impact on me as a creator and creative. Even when I was doing my best work I wouldn’t want to share it knowing that there are others out there who are doing a better job. (Note: “better” is thoroughly subjective).

I would question my skills and experience. I would wonder why anyone would want to hire me when there are plenty of better options available.

I would join groups of like minded professionals on Facebook or LinkedIn to keep up with the latest developments in our industry. My contemporaries would share their work and receive a ton of compliments. And I would sit there idle on the sidelines scared to death, wondering how in the heck I would make it in this industry let alone this world.


The Changing Tide

I reached a breaking point. The Internet has evolved and changed over the last few years due to social media. The things that used to scared me to death are now motivation. It took a lot to learn this, and to be completely honest, I’m still scared by what I put out online.

But the more I put myself out there, and the work my company was doing, the more confident I became. It allowed me to connect with great people in and out of our industry. I quickly realized that people do care what you have to say and are genuinely fans of what you’re doing.

Being successful sometimes comes down to how you see yourself. If I can inspire people to better the industry as a whole then why not? If you want to be seen as an expert in your niche, be one. Become an expert at something, figure out a great way to do something and share your experience with others.

What’s stopping you from becoming an expert in your field? There are plenty of resources available, and with practice and determination you have the potential to create an impact on someone.

Inspiration is all around us. Online and off.

The path ahead is not always clear. But the closer you get the clearer it gets.

Practice, take notes, learn, make mistakes, iterate, improve, rinse and repeat.

I’ve been working in video for 12 years now. I’ve added millions of dollars to the bottom line of small business, large global power corporations and even non profits organizations.

This wasn’t the impetus to start blogging or marketing ourselves online. The impetus was to share my experience and my work- for better or worse. In the end, when we’re producing a project we do the best job we can give the limitations (every project has limitations). Whether it’s seen by 1 or by 1,000,000 it’s not going to change how we created the project or what the response is.

How Much

A perfect example of this is my recent blog post about pricing video projects and professional creative services in general. I debated for weeks and months whether I should write that post or not. How would I be judged? Would I be giving away too many secrets that I valuably learned over the years? Or worse, would I prevent someone else from learning those same lessons the hard way and ultimately hurt our community? Blood, sweat and tears are what passions are made of, right?

A rising tide lifts all ships.

I wrote the post on pricing and felt ok about it, and after sharing it with a couple of trusted friends and incorporating some feedback I felt great about it. At that moment it didn’t matter what the world thought because my intentions were good and I knew that I could help out a few people.

That post has more views than any other post I’ve written. It was highly discussed here on our blog and on several social groups online. Many gained valuable insight into the business side of the industry and over time will help grow this community.

It’s something that not often talked about and I presume that’s out of fear. Ultimately, I felt it was killing our industry and market and wanted to do something about it.

Take inspiration from everything.

Don't let your fears keep you out.

It’s a Process

Because of this, people reach out all time asking questions, saying how lucky I am to have this or that. But the truth is that I’m in the same boat as you. I’m clueless, and I am not alone.

If there’s someone who enjoy my work, it’s because I stuck my neck out there in the first place and took a risk. If I have an audience at all, it’s because I earned it.

I’m not saying that it’s easier for me because of this or that. I’m saying it’s still just as hard, and there will always be an obstacle to overcome.

I go into a project without a clue as to what the solution is to the problem, or the creative behind telling a certain story. I’m not sure what the best questions to ask during an interview. Or what setting will best compliment a story.

But I do have a process that we have developed over the past decade of doing, trying, experimenting and iterating on. It’s not a guess, but something that I’ve done enough times to know what works and what doesn’t work. When something doesn’t work I figure out why. I look for breakdowns or hiccups in project that affect creative or the end delivery. Once you’ve done this enough times you have a barometer and can improve upon.

Even when you’ve done this 1000x you can still be scared. I’ve learned to enjoy and embrace it. And because I’ve been scared and know how to overcome it it has made me better.

Working on your own videos? Download our free budget templates now.


How have you overcome fear and improved your skillset? Let me know in the comments below.

How To Video Shoot From a Helicopter with Remote Control Gimbals

Shooting Video From a Helicopter

Aerial videography has exploded in the last couple of years largely because of drones. But did you know that aerial photography has been around for decades with the use of planes and helicopters? As great as drones are, there are a lot of benefits to shooting aerials from a helicopter over a drone, too.

Getting a bird’s eye view for your productions can increase production value and audience engagement immensely. It’s a perspective that will never get old and sometimes entire videos are shot with just drones.

Video camera and remote controlled gimbal inside helicopter

You all know we’re big fans of drones. Drones are popping up everywhere- military, toys, surveillance, racing and photography/videography drones.

Drones are not without their flaws and limitations, though. The largest drawback to drones is the lens options available and flight time. The most popular drones are quadcopters, meaning they have 4 rotors, and can only carry a very light payload or camera. Thus, the GoPro is most popular camera for drones today.

Despite the fantastic image quality of GoPros they are severely limited in the lens choice available. In fact, you only have one choice of lens with any GoPro camera.

You do, however, have a few different shooting options ranging from SuperWide, Wide, Medium and Narrow- but these options simply crop in on the same lens.

There are times when you want to use to better optics for aerial photography because your project demands it. You can use a larger drone, such as a hexacopter or octocopter, which have six and eight rotors respectively, that can carry larger cameras with interchangeable lenses.

Drone batteries currently last about 20 minutes in the best case scenario. Best practices suggest that you always land your drone with you have 15% battery left. A drone that runs out of batteries mid flight can be very dangerous and land on innocent bystanders or damage property.

There are times when you want to use to better optics for aerial photography because your project demands it.

Batteries are also greatly affected by atmospheric conditions. Winds, payload and age all affect the capacity of a battery, so it’s imperative to maintain and routinely check your batteries.

The work around is to get more batteries. This will allow you to stay in the air longer but you still have to land the drone and change the battery on the ground. This can be time consuming and costly depending on the subjects you are shooting.

Alternatively, you can use a helicopter for aerial videography.

There are positives and negatives to both options, so let’s break them down.

Shooting with a helicopter means you can go higher and cover larger areas in a quick amount of time. You’ll be under strict FAA regulations but if you have an experienced pilot you can get away with a lot.

Here’s a quick clip of us hanging over the San Diego airport hovering as a commercial jet took off and flying around the beaches.

We asked permission with the FAA, of course, but until this experience I would have never guess this was possible.

Why? Because drones are subjected to strict FAA laws, too. In fact, you can’t legally fly a drone within a 5 mile radius of a commercial airport without FAA permission- which isn’t easy to obtain.

Helicopters are also pretty expensive to fly and operate. If your budget is small you probably can’t afford a helicopter.

We recently went up in a helicopter that held 4 people including the pilot. What was great about the experience was that we were able to shoot 4K images with professional Veydra Cinema lenses on a GH4.

The Veydra lenses are high quality, heavy glass options that were released late 2014. We were able to fly at high and low altitudes and get incredible shots that we wouldn’t have been able to get with a drone.

To stabilize the shots we used our favorite tool, the DJI Ronin. This allowed us to get buttery smooth shots in a dual operator setup. One operator holding the unit and controlling the camera, while another operator was using a joystick monitoring the shots and composition.

Ronin gimbal stabilizing images from helicopter.

How to shoot video from inside a helicopter.

Ready for action!

The Ronin provides for 3-axis stabilization and the option to remotely control the position of the camera. When you’re shooting from a bird’s eye view and your subject is far away, you don’t notice much shake. But still a helicopter is constantly shaking and vibrating, so anything you can do to stabilize the camera is ideal.

We took the door off to remove any elements that would degrade the image quality. It was summertime when we shot this, so it was warm but the wind provided another element to be careful of- and something that can quickly derail your shoot.

Our pilot warned us that the last group he took up with a similar setup didn’t last :30 seconds before the camera rolled inside the Ronin stabilizer. The wind resistance means that you must have perfect balance as being in a helicopter is more sensitive than usual.

Luckily for us we had perfect balance and didn’t roll the camera once. I would recommend that you sit back away from the wind as much as possible. You’ll get smoother shots way and the operator will have plenty of room to frame shots.

Side note: When we shot the HouseCall explainer video we used a pre-production Gremsy that was 2+ lbs over the weight limit that we rolled several times. The unit held up remarkably well considering we were so far over the limit but it’s a drag when you roll a gimbal stabilizer. I can imagine it would be a disaster if you’re in a helicopter trying to find balance.

If you use this setup make sure you bring with you an extra battery for the Ronin or gimbal stabilizer of your choice. Since the helicopter is constantly shaking they tend to work the motors harder and use more energy from the batteries.

Bird's eye view, aka view from a helicopter.

Looking down form a helicopter.

A majority of what we shot was on the 16mm and 25mm focal lengths. Since we’re shooting on a micro 4/3’s camera with a 2x crop factor, this would be equivalent to 32mm and 50mm focal length- a far cry from what you can get with a GoPro, even on narrow mode.

We took off from Carlsbad Palomar airport and flew down to Coronado Island adjacent to downtown San Diego in about 18 minutes. We spend about 10 minutes shooting Coronado, hopped over to downtown then flew back up to north county via the Interstate 5 freeway.

A dual-operator setup rocks!

Using dual operators allows you to get much better, smoother shots and the results are amazing. The smooth panning, tilting and rolling keeps your images smooth and level. It also let’s you sit further back and keep still while the second operator can control the unit. Using two operators from a helicopter is highly recommended.

Other Helicopter Options

Another option when shooting with a helicopter is to use a Cineflex or Shotover camera system. These systems mount on the front of the helicopter and are controlled remotely from an operator sitting inside.

Both these options have a built in stabilization and controls for focus, iris and zoom. You’ve likely seen shots that came from one of these systems in car commercials or National Geographic shows. They are pretty incredible, but, also prohibitively expensive for most shoots.

Helicopters are great for aerials and allow you to do so much. Here are the best benefits of shooting from a helicopter:

  • Camera and lens options available are nearly endless
  • Time in air is very, very long. You can easily spend hours in a helicopter
  • Area coverage is vast
  • Height and speed are much less limited vs a drone

What questions do you have about shooting from a helicopter or a drone?

Veydra Mini Primes Review

Quality Cinema Glass.

Veydra Mini Primes are prime lenses specifically made for today’s smaller cameras with smaller chips, most notably mirrorless cameras. Cameras such as the Panasonic GH4 (a favorite around here) and the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera are great examples of what a Micro 4/3’s camera is capable of.

Veydra recently launched on the cinema scene with a pretty popular Kickstarter campaign that earned them almost $300,000 in orders. As owners of a Panasonic GH4 we were excited by the potential of these lenses and where it could take our productions.

Sometimes we go on shoots that are run’n’gun style where we need to be mobile and quick on our feet. Using a small camera package allows us to do just that. It gives us the freedom to be agile and get the shots we need without any setup.

Since these are cinema quality lenses, this means that they’ll be of higher quality and produce an image that is still inline with our production goals.

Why Prime Lenses?

Prime lenses are typically “faster” than zoom lenses. This means that they can let more light in through the aperture, which will open wider, allowing the image to develop quicker. This can get confusing so let me explain in more detail.

The “faster” a lens, the wider the aperture will open, which has a lower T. Stop (or F. Stop) attached to it. So, an T2 means that it is more open than an T2.8 or an T4. Most lenses will range from wide open around an T2 and close (or stop) down to a T16 or T22.

Side note: Cinema lenses are read in T Stops (or true stops) whereas still lenses are read in F. Stops. These are largely interchangeable but the difference is that an F. Stop measures the theoretical amount of light allowed through the lens compared to a T Stop which measures the actual or true amount of light coming through the aperture.



Veydra Mini Prime on GH4

The wider the aperture the more room light has to travel through the lens, which means that the image can be imprinted on the film or chip quicker. This is why we refer to lenses as fast or slow.

We now live in a digital world, but the technology works the same.

When lenses are open, the depth of field will be shallower, meaning the background and foreground will be more blurry than then the aperture is more close. You can compare images at T2 and T8 and you’ll see what I mean.

This is usually an aesthetic but also helps keep the focus on your subject when composing a shot or scene.

This also means that prime lenses, although set a certain focal point and cannot zoom, have the ability to shoot with less light, something you always want to consider indoors or at night.


Why was I so excited to try these lenses out on the GH4? They’re not made specifically for this camera, but they are made specifically for this chip size, so a lot of the design & build took into consideration the size of the cameras they’ll go on.

This means no more heavy Canon lenses attached via adaptor to the GH4. One of the great things about the GH4 is that it’s portable and can be taken so many places easily. The best camera is the one you have on you.

These prime lenses are pretty portable, not the smallest lenses on the market but they are certainly smaller than other cinema prime lenses out there.

Strong and sturdy and you get the feeling you’re dealing with high-end cinema glass.

They are built very well. Strong and sturdy and you get the feeling you’re dealing with high-end cinema glass when working with them. I have always felt that this helps with composition on set or on location.

Using high end, quality equipment always makes me think more about composition, the scene at hand and how best to put everything together. It makes me take my time, almost as if they demand more respect from the operator, making you more careful when shooting with them.

They are de-clicked (of course) and work great with a follow focus system. I didn’t get to put a follow focus on during our test but the aperture is smooth and steady, making any 1st AC happy. On most sets the 1st AC is the one responsible for pulling focus.

The Glass

The glass is quality. To build off what I was saying before, Veydra did a great job designing and building these lenses. They set out to make a set of glass specifically for micro 4/3 cameras.

When I heard this I knew that they were going after the people who shoot quality productions with these new cameras. I knew that they were going to give the attention it deserved, and were not trying to sell the most lenses as cheap as possible.

This was a sigh of relief. There was a hole in the market and now we have a great option for cinema glass.

The significance of this is that you can now take your Micro 4/3 camera further, as an A-camera or B-camera next to a RED Dragon, Alexa or Sony F55 if your production warrents it.

These lenses were custom designed from the ground up. They were not re-housed still lenses modified for cinema. They were designed for cinema productions in mind and I think they definitely succeeded in these goals.

An added bonus of using these lenses with a GH4 is that you can scout locations and create photographic storyboards with the same setup you’ll be using for production. I love that the GH4 is a still and movie camera, and that it excels in both areas.

I highlight that the GH4 works well as both because that’s the way it was designed. Some DSLRs are designed as a still cameras and have a movie recording function added without much thought.

This is also a benefit if you’re casting for your project and want to know how your potential talent looks with your production setup. Obviously these scenes won’t be lit like they would for your shoot, but it’s nice to know about sharpness and contrast with your talent. (Your DP will thank you later, I promise.)



The Best Camera is the One You Have With You

I don’t want to get into the science of how or why these lenses work because I’m not a scientist. I’m a filmmaker, and I care about how they look and how they are to work with.

They’re awesome.

The image quality is great. The bokah is smooth. They’re easy to work with and change in and out fast. They feel solid in your hands.

They are heavier than other lenses- part of what comes with having a sturdy build, which is something to consider if you’re going to be handheld all day.

I think that these lenses bridge the gap between larger, high end cinema camera setups and smaller, lower budget productions.

Here a couple of time lapses we shot recently with the Veydra Mini Primes.

This is our independent review, we were not compensated in any way for this.

Any questions about the Veydra Mini Primes? Let me know in the comments!

Inc. Magazine Quotes TAR Founder on Cloud Security

Being Safe Online

As you might know, we run almost our entire video production business on the cloud, at least the business part of it. We use several SaaS to help us be more nimble and efficient. It’s something that I’ve picked up over the last decade, and the increase in cloud services for businesses has been extremely helpful.

With that said, cloud security is increasingly becoming more and more important. Many companies overlook the fact that sensitive data is potentially available to targeted hackers.

Since we have team members located across the U.S. and the some globally, we’ve set up a system to enhance our cloud security and prevent breaches from affecting other services.

Note: Our Post Production facilities are still performed on local drives and high end equipment.

Be safe online when using cloud services.

Inc. Magazine recently reached out to get our Founder & Director’s thoughts on the current state of the cloud.  As more and more business go online and see the benefit of the cloud, there will be some that miss the importance of data security, or some who simply overlook altogether.

1 billion individual records were hacked in 2014.

The article is a good read and it’s recommend to read it if you run your own business or use cloud services of your own. The article can be found here online, or it’s on page 68 in the July/August 2015 print issue.

Why You Should Avoid RFPs

The Downside of RFPs

Requests For Proposals (RFPs) have been around for a long time and it’s time for them to go away, forever. They are not beneficial or helpful in anyway for the organization nor the creative team they’re sent out to.

I crunched the numbers. I looked up the number of RFPs we’ve received over the years, the number of ones we responded too and the number of successful RFPs we won. The first two numbers are admittedly low. But the last? How many times have we successful bid on an RFP?


In reality, RFPs go against everything we stand for. We’ve been in business long enough to earn a pretty solid roster of clients and keep the lights on for over a decade. This means we’ve done decent enough work for people to pay us and still be around today. And you know what else? Along the way we’ve found out what works, what doesn’t work and how to improve and make things work even better.

This is called our process and there’s a purpose why it exists. When I said earlier we figured out a what doesn’t work what I really meant was that we did things subpar that costs us time and/or money, or, worst of all, a less than stellar project. No one wants that, not us, not the people hiring us and definitely not the people buying their products or services.

Two paths, follow your gut and you'll eventually get there. #storytellers

Predetermined Set of Values

RFPs have a predetermined set of values- whether that be views, solution or simply how to go about performing a duty.

To put it bluntly, this simple does not work.

All RFPs I have read have gone down a path to a solution. This could be a deliverable, where to shoot, who to include or even what camera to shoot on.

How does having this information help a project? I have no clue.

Sometimes the author of the RFP doesn’t know they’re providing a solution, which only further hurts a project. My guess is that most respondents to RFPs write proposals verbatim with the language in the RFP and ultimately wins the job. But no one along the way asked “why.”

Everything we do has a purpose and, being the curious buggers we are, we have to know why. We crave this.

RFPs are usually templated

Often times, I found that RFPs were templated and recycled from other projects in the organization or found using a quick Google search.

When RFPs are templated they do not deliver the answer, or results, you’re looking for.

Each project comes with it’s own set of limitations and parameters. A templated set of questions won’t allow either party to dive into the problem and come up with a solution that works, that drive results or creates change.

Furthermore, no two creative agencies are the same. Our proposal and process is going to look different from another video production company. This isn’t to say there is no wrong answer, but there can be more than one right answer.

To put it bluntly, RFPs simply do not work.

RFPs are Old

Beside being old-school, many RFPs are old (and templated, but I already told you that). The language might not speak to today’s world with it’s sophisticated technology and social norms.

One of the RFPs we saw once stipulated that the deliverables must be on Beta tape- a quality format that was technologically advanced in 1984. This RFP was sent out in the mid 2000s!

Even on a conservative level in the mid 2000s a DVD is arguably not a great delivery format.

I was convinced the author of this RFP knew what he or she was looking for and this foreshadowed how the entire project would pan out.

What’s the Point

Where many RFPs fail is messaging to a potential partner is the purpose. Why are we doing this project and what is it suppose to do? Sell more t-shirts and hats? Let someone know about a new product line?

Creatives need to know what the purpose of the project is. Is there a problem we’re trying to solve? For us, this is a conversation where all the stakeholders are present and we’re discussing what we’re trying to achieve, why we’re doing this, how we might go about it, etc.

In the RFPs I’ve seen there is usually a solution present or a hinted one. We never go into a project knowing what the solution is. We’re not experts in everything and certainly not the expert that you are in your business.

But we know how to figure this out, we know what questions to ask and how to get about finding that solution. Hint: It’s our process, again.

RFPs should be a blank slate. Take initiative and find your story.


Why do RFPs always leave out budget? This is another one I can’t figure out for the life of me. Sometimes organizations don’t have a budget because they honestly don’t know what it costs.

I can only assume it’s because they want to get a project at a lower price point that what it’s really worth.

But, I digress.

2nd Opinion

If you go to the doctor to get a second opinion, you do just that- you get a second opinion. Not a 37th opinion.

Many RFPs authors send it out to as many places as possible. This is a like a hurricane, spreading damages across a large area.

How can one manage to field so many creative proposals and keep track of them? It’s far too easy to confuse the bits you like among  several proposals.

We love to compete for work, but not with that many others. At the onset of a potential project conversation, we usually ask who else is in the mix. We found that when we compete with 10 or 20 or even 30 other companies on a bid that there is simple too much confusion on the other end and respectfully bow out.

Field better proposals with these tips.

How to field better proposals

So you’re ready for your project and you’re looking for video production companies to partner with. Great! Let’s figure out the best way to do this.

Talk with different creatives to gauge if they’re a fit or not. Ask about potential approaches or processes. Share with them the problems you’re having and the goals, too. Let them know who you are as a company, who your users/customers are.

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Don’t be afriad to set the bar high and listen, too. You’re looking for help from people who do this day in and day out. Ask them what has worked for others and why. See if your company can relate. If not, at least you understand how they got from point A to point B.

What questions do you have about proposals and RFPs? Let me know in the comments below.