Eeeey. Welcome to FREE THE WORK!
Our new platform for talent discovery was created to revolutionize the way that underrepresented talent is discovered. It all started in 2016, when I sat at my kitchen table and took on ad industry hiring practices with an independent initiative and a small website called Free The Bid. I discovered how deeply systemic the lack of opportunity was that kept the doors closed for the incredibly talented women around me. I wanted to find a way to break the vicious cycle that made it impossible for them to be considered.
Free The Bid was a simple intervention—brands and their agencies took a pledge to include at least one woman director among the three directors invited to bid on every job. I knew that if women could make it into the room, creativity would win out. The results we’ve achieved so far prove to the world that when given the chance, a wider pool of talent is capable of winning jobs and producing some of the best work out there.
Yet even in those early days, I just kept asking myself, why just women?
What about all people of color? People who are trans identifying, across all genders? Non-binary indivicuals and creatives who live with disabilty? Getting women through the gates wasn’t enough—we wanted to come back for everyone. I had also started directing my first scripted feature, and noticed a new “mantra” being repeated in film and TV circles: “All the [insert any underrepresented creator here] are already working.” I knew first-hand that this was not true—tons of underrepresented talent are still being disproportionately overlooked—and I was determined to challenge that notion.
Almost exactly a year ago, our team and I began brainstorming what our ideal website would look like, and how it would function if it had everything we look for in other services. I wanted to bring the same urgency we bring to finding a new song on streaming or trying out a new restaurant to talent discovery.
We started dreaming of a site that could be used by all industries, that would provide intelligent discovery with personalized recommendations of creators, making the process of stepping out of your echo chamber dynamic and exciting rather than going through the motions of “diversity and inclusion.” We imagined a platform where our community could come to support one another, mentor each other, and engage in the kind of constructive real talk that’s been going on in group chats and personal email threads for years.
We envisioned a one-stop shop for cultivating skill sets, giving access to the kind of info and inspo that you can only get from professionals who are at the forefront of cinema—think film school, minus the textbooks and student loan debt. We wanted a tool that would allow for organizations to track their progress in hiring unheard voices, bringing blind spots into the light and allowing change to unfold in real time.
And last but not least, we wished for the chance to bring tangible change for even more creators, across even more industries. Editors, composers, colorists. Cinematographers, writers, VFX artists. Hopefully, down the line, costume designers, photographers, production designers. Everyone that creates with us.
Now, after months of dreaming and building, it’s my unbelievable honor to welcome you to a platform that turns all of these dreams into reality. FREE THE WORK offers holistic talent discovery, allowing creators new opportunities to get hired; a safe space for community discussion; a wealth of resources, tools, how-to-guides, and mentorship opportunities; exclusive perks; and the ability for businesses to chart their commitment to diversity on an ongoing basis.
Perhaps most importantly, FREE THE WORK expands the Free The Bid vision to encompass film, television, and all entertainment media, alongside advertising, and welcomes talented creators of all identities and backgrounds who have historically been underrepresented behind the scenes, in all of these fields.
You don’t have to take my word for it, though. I invite you to browse through, build a profile, and fall in love with creativity and talent discovery.
The time is now—free the bid, free the pitch, free the score, free the set, free the edit…