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AromaKat

Spiffy L.A. | Reel 2013-2014

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Cool to see the evolution from your reels of a few years back, neat to see you building up a bit of a niche with all the toy stuff.

 

Was curious since I have my own small how do you divide things up in terms of creative versus producing/business stuff. Are you the creative guy and your brother does more the business/producing side of things or do you both do a bit of each?

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Yeah... Remember back when I joined this site in 05, desperate for advice on how to get out of the adult industry? :D

 

I had been doing this small business approach, albeit on a smaller scale, for a few years before Kyle, so he's slowly and carefully getting to speed on the business front and helping out but its still basically me responsible for the administrative. On the creative end, clients started just requesting one or the other for various things after knowing us and our strengths, and we generally seek eachother's thoughts and opinions before shipping anything out for review just for verification or whatever. We can openly throw shit at each other's work in progress and its always appreciated, so thats good. There is no creative power struggle or anything like that. I guess he is more of a vfx person and I'm still taking on the more designey stuff, but again, its all changing organically over time. Also, I think that being a family business / operation the dynamics are a bit different than if it were a partnership with a colleague, which I suppose has the potential to be good in some ways and bad in others.

 

The toy niche......

 

This reel was a bit of a challenge, since it had to be strictly stuff we have done as Spiffy, and now we have to think of how to position the business entity, considering who exactly we are marketing to. I have worked on higher profile and arguably cooler looking stuff during my shop-hopping freelance days, but couldn't really put that in the company reel. We have done a bit of corporate stuff, but we don't actively market to them at all so all reference to such work is omitted entirely. There was a lot of debate on what and when to name-drop, while also throwing in shots to help context, rather than simply throwing in the most interesting looking shots as I would a personal reel.

 

Interestingly, making this reel forced us to decide whether we are niche company specializing in youth markets, or an all-around finishing / vfx / graphics house. The answer to that is still a bit uncertain to us in our hearts, but hopefully people in the toy industry see us as specialists while those outside the toy industry can understand its not all we do.

 

The work from our toy industry connections is what financially allowed us to start this operation, but we went into this trying to target tv networks doing promo / show open work, using the toy stuff to bootstrap the operation until we got footed. That was the plan, hence the location (Miracle Mile), but after getting much deeper in the toy world and building more relationships there, we just kind of ran with it. I stopped actively tapping the shoulders of people in the network world some time ago. We had a few gigs from that arena, but the relationships just haven't seemed to stick for us like they have within the toy industry thus far.

 

It was definitely unexpected for us to find ourselves so entrenched in the youth market, but its fun and potential clients are approaching us now - which is a very welcome change for me from a marketing standpoint. We don't want to be completely pigeon-holed and be able to chase gigs outside of the toy market, so we sprinkle a bit of non-toy stuff in there too but are trying to play off the momentum of having a niche while feeling industry-specific to our bread and butter client base. Its a peculiar challenge, to say the least.

Edited by AromaKat

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I think it's a pretty good approach, use the toy niche to really get the business on solid financial footing and build out from there. As long as you have a sprinkling of other stuff to show people at agencies etc. who know the business a bit, they will get that the skills transfer.

 

I can definitely think of worse niches to be in than toys.

 

One thing I suggest when you have enough work is do a toy reel, and then a general reel. That makes it really clear that you have strong expertise in one area and also have the diversity.

 

As long as you have a good amount of work rolling in that you like, you can take your marketing time to target a new area and really open up another market and another style. You can always do some personal projects to show off a different side of what you can do.

 

Anyhow sounds like good problems to have.

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finally got around to watching the fixed embed (thanks for that). overall, solid reel.

 

I agree with anothername that having multiple reels is a good idea. The toy work is good, and I can see where there's overlap w/ some of the other corporate / network stuff but for the most part the two feel so different that they almost detract from each other. So having a reel tailored to your potential client would only make the work feel stronger.

 

As for being in a niche. Go after it. I've done a bunch of work at a shop that basically does UI prototyping for software / hardware companies. 80% of their revenue comes from work they can't show anyone and 9 times out of 10 never goes anywhere but they've carved out their little corner and are killing it. the other 20% of the work is the fun / creative / psychotic ad agency / typical mograph shop stuff that gets used in a public reel. Not that they really need the reel cuz most of their work comes from direct referrals based on their non reel work anyway.

 

either way, good stuff and rooting for your continued success!

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Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I'm probably going to be really taking the numerous reel approach to heart.

 

We have just wrapped another 9 unique toy spots which weren't finished in time for the new reel, so perhaps once those products are launched we will turn this into a 100% toy reel and do a secondary reel that covers all non-toy & vfx. VFX / "fix it in post" stuff is another large area of business for us, but I always left it out of reels becuase its kinda boring and we generally have been doing that type of stuff for the same 5 brands over and over - but again, a good piece of the pie that I think your advice of segmenting out different reels could help us sell such services.

 

To clarify, are you all sugesting to have all segmented industry-specific reels, which in our case would be Toy, Food, Financial, and then a VFX, or would the 'General Reel' being referenced be a mash-up of everything, kind of where its at now?

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I think having something to speak directly to who you want to work for isn't a bad idea. The trick is to know how many is too many. I see a lot of shots doing a House / mograph / vfx reel combo but those all end up being pretty generic. I think you doing a Toys reel is worth while. it seems like that's the majority of your work based on this one. So if that's where most of your revenue is coming from then it's worth catering to it w/ a little extra effort. I'd prioritize based on what pays the bills and then what you like doing.

 

I'm currently in the position of not having quite enough of any one type of work to make separate reels. so my own demo reel (just put it up here today) is basically a cut down version the UI / Comp reels I hope to be able to cut eventually. And even this is way cut down from where I started. it had crap loads of corporate work and tech company presentation videos and anything I could think of in it and finally decided that I can do all that stuff if asked but I only want to put forward the kind of work I want to do more of.

 

I'll check back if that turns out to be a terrible idea.

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Very solid looking reel, Aroma. Speaking as someone who has learned some hard lessons in other creative businesses, I don't think there's anything wrong with having "niche reels". To the extent the information design of your web site allows buyers to "flow" to those niche reels, it could work. I will say also that sometimes reels with a ton of divergent subject matter, can be pretty jarring. Makes it tougher to quickly process what I'm seeing / making sense of it. If on the other hand you have two or three reels that are positioned in a logical way on your site (and in Google) so that certain types of buyers are more likely to end up viewing certain reels, then that's good for business and easier for them. They don't have to mentally switch modes as they view, trying to parse what are you good at, what is just filler for the reel. Everything they are looking at is relevant so the only question they have to ask is, "is this the kind of style and look we want for ourselves / our client?"

 

More generally, one thing I've learned from watching everyone else in this industry (so far)... every legit project can open doors to new kinds of projects and clients. You and your brother may be rocking the toys / youth market angle right now... two years from now you could be doing VFX work for Disney or specializing in medical animations or whatever. Do what makes you happy today, work hard at it, and when you get tired of it, other doors will be there.

 

Last point: though I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to giving media people credit (for anything), I suspect most people in the buyer's market are smart enough to connect the dots in terms of "... if these guys can model, light and animate an awesome looking toy ad, they can probably model, light and animate many other concepts that have nothing to do with toys."

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