Establishing a universal estimate form, part 2

Last week, I posted a Q&A with Allegra Wilde on her efforts to establish a Universal Bid Form for the photo industry. She mentioned that she was working on the project with Lou Lesko of BlinkBid, “who agreed to put together a template example for us, and has also agreed to give up a proprietary position, vis a vis his competition, by making any eventual form available to anyone in our industry for free, (including his competitors) and available as an open-source document.”

I wrote Lou requesting details and asked him about his background—it’s often interesting to see the path that a person’s career takes over the years. It’s not always what one would have predicted.

Here’s what he had to say:

What is your background?

I started as a fashion photographer when I was nineteen which I did under the mentoring of a fashion agent name Michael DeMartini.  I attended USC at 21 and when I graduated with an English writing degree I set out to save the world through photojournalism.  An all night party in San Francisco inadvertently led to an assignment in Moscow, Russia.  After two years of photojournalism I was well traveled and broke.  I went back to the fashion industry in Los Angeles which eventually led to directing commercials.  Four years ago I started BlinkBid software for photographers.  Two years ago I wrote a book about advertising photography that published in October 2007.

How did you become involved with the efforts to establish the Universal Bid Form?
People who knew both Allegra Wilde and myself thought it would be a good idea for us to meet.  I met her in Los Angeles a few months ago.  I was knocked out of my shoes.  I’ve never met anyone with more insight to this business.


The Association of Independent Commercial Producers has its own universal bid form. Why can’t that be adapted for use in the photo industry?
A commercial is a commercial is a commercial.  You need varying sizes of all the same departments, from art to camera crew etc. depending on the scope of the spot.  In photography, depending on the shoot, you can go from 30 person shoot down to a 3 person shoot depending on the genre.  This is why the (universal bid form) UBF for photography won’t be like the AICP form.  If the shoot is big and complicated an AICP form is great, but for a food shoot with one assistant and one food stylist the AICP type form is downright cumbersome.   When trying to get a job, part of the key is to have clear communication with your client.

What role will BlinkBid, which offers invoicing software for the creative community, have in the Universal Bid Form?
BlinkBid will be sponsoring the development of the UBF and hosting it for free download when its completed.  BlinkBid will also be incorporating it into the software and our next evolution of products.

Allegra mentioned that this bid form will be iPhone-friendly. She also mentioned that there will be an app producers can use to enter expenses while on set. Can you elaborate on that?
These features will be BlinkBid features which gives you an idea of where the company is going with its future plans.

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