Here ye, here ye, all royal subjects:
His Highness heralds significant change to the Video Contest Kingdom.

Effective immediately, the VCK will focus on providing production consultation for any creative wanting to up their production game.

The Video Contest King will share with creatives his knowledge of video production with a focus on increasing your branding and story-telling value in the freelance marketplace, increasing the likelihood of your content being noticed and purchased by the brand.

As a highly successful video contest veteran, I have been finalist in 80% of the contests I’ve entered and have won more than half of them. That’s not a type-O, the Video Contest King has won over 50% of the video contests he has entered in the six years he has been producing spec. commercials. Through it all, I have used a myriad of camera and lighting equipment configurations and have shot with semi-pro Mini-DV on through the current Canon I currently utilize to story-tell. I have shot with cheap Lowell lights, eventually graduating to the Kino Flo system I now use. I have scored wins and have had national commercials from the outset, regardless of the type/quality of equipment available to me because I have always known that: More important than the newest film gadgetry is the valuable impression waiting to be made on the brand by way of good story-telling paired with solid editing.

For those of you that have hung out here in the kingdom over the years, you’re likely familiar with the hundreds of critiques and reviews I’ve given to requesting creatives. These creatives span the spectrum of freelance experience, from Pros who have worked with major brands, to entry level creatives equipped with a spankin’ new T2i from Costco and a dream of making a name for themselves in the advertising world. In most cases, the reviews I’ve provided to peers in the past were issued at the request of those creatives. Click HERE to read a blog post that contains numerous such reviews relative to a popular video contest run by Doritos.

Any successful writer/producer knows that the most important element of production is the quality of peer review and collaboration that goes into any project. I have employed the same peer review process in my own career and owe much of my success to it’s implementation. Having the luxury of honest feedback from a seasoned, successful professional with a willingness to pull no punches at any and all production junctures is irreplaceable. It is arguably the most important growth vitamin any freelancer can consume to help bolster their staleness immunity. The problem with our community, is that freelancers tend to be lone wolfs…mavericks with little in the way of peer review affiliation. Freelancer video creators rarely receive the kind of critique needed to improve the creative skill set in any consistent, ongoing fashion. Yet, it’s the kind of input necessary to not only make us more valuable in a creative sense, and to not propel us to the next level, but it is critical to helping us stay current with popular visual trends and styles. It’s the type of quality critique we will never receive from our friends, family and freelance buddies. It is why serious script writers the world over pay hundreds of dollars for coverage on their scripts, to have them dissected and ripped to shreds by professional and highly capable script readers. If you are a freelance creative and are not ready for this type of scrutiny, than be prepared for the coming waves of entry level film novices to steam roller over you.

In the Video Contest Kingdom I’ve been providing review/critique service ‘free of charge’ for years. In my archives you will find many other posts published over the last couple of years which contain literally hundreds of reviews and critiques. As a result of the overwhelming volume of requests I currently receive for review and critique I can no longer provide coverage free of charge. It consumes just too much of my free hours to provide the thoughtful feedback necessary for useful review/critique. It is why I am re-configuring the Kingdom. So that I may identify those creatives who are serious about receiving professional coverage, and stratify them from those creatives who may want an opinion but ultimately never intend to apply the input that can take hours to organize and provide.

Review and Critique will include:
1. Thorough and complete coverage of the commercial script. Often this may include a complete revision of the script by the King.

2. Reviewing the shooting schedule and suggest changes that may help paint a more comprehensive and contiguous visual story line. The goal is to reduce the occasions where time consuming pick-up shots and costly re-shoots can throw a serious monkey wrench into the production schedule. Any visual progression that skips or jumps and doesn’t move the branding story forward in a believable and aesthetic manner is doomed to fail from the very beginning. Brands regularly pay 3 Million dollars + to broadcast a :30 spot during the Superbowl. At this rate we better be sure that every single second ($100,000.00) of our :30 submission is kind of special. 

3. The creative will submit to the King a first draft of the edit. The King will provide detailed clip-by-clip input ranging but not limited to timing, length, style, effects, clip order etc.. A very common problem creators experience is sculpting down :43, or :51 of content down to the brand-required :30. I’ll share how it is done and by virtue of time compression how an even stronger spot results. The King will provide a total of three critiques on three different edits. TIP: Try not to spend too much time on your first draft edit. Or at the very least never allow yourself to think your first edit is the ‘finished edit’. Falling in love (spending too much time) with any particular sequence of content is the single greatest barrier to improvement (especially the early ones). Upon slowly falling in love our babies we tend to not want to kill any of them. Any editor who thinks their subsequent brainstorm is never as good as their first, is mistaken. It is a mindset often born of laziness and/or stubbornness, (something we creative types are often stricken with), one which regularly sabotages our professional growth. The King can only help improve your product if all content is fair game. After the King provides edit suggestions, the creator can choose to adopt little or none of the critique, but it is educationally incumbent to at least see what the changes would have looked like, before rejecting them. With growth comes growing pains. Buy some Advil.  

The King provides the below rates for any video project of 1:00 or less in length. For projects of longer duration, or for information on how the King (Jared Cicon Films) can be hired as principal editor on your project, you may email me, Jared, at (

Additional Information:
If upon completion of your master edit, the changes accurately reflect the King’s critique, the King may showcase your work as a ‘Before and After’ example here on the VCK blog.

TIP: Though the King will service any projects that fit the under 1:00 criteria, it is strongly advised that you not submit to the King, projects for contests where winning video(s) are chosen via a public or social networking voting scheme. In contests such as these, content can rarely be edited with any kind of assurance relative to contest success. Instead, sites like,,, and, represent a much more credible creative challenge and real opportunity to work with brands who are seeking legitimate content for their real world branding campaigns.

Happy filming. Good luck on your next project. Here’s to teaming up with you on it. All inquiries should be directed to

The King – aka Jared Cicon (


  1. Last year when I wrote a script for a Trident spot, Jared came on board and really helped brand the script in a way that optimized the quality of the Trident Layers product. Along with that he came on as the Director of Photography and Editor. His focus and precision on knowing what sound effect to put where, along with how many frames an edit should be to tell the story effectively, really made the difference in the spot. And, Trident thought so too. They purchased the spot for $7,500! It was the most amount of money I ever earned from a brand sponsored video contest. Jared has to be the best deal on the market right now. He has the resumé to prove that he knows how to get the attention of national brands. If you’re serious about taking your craft to the next level and putting out national quality commercials, this is money well spent.

    • Thanks Joel. I had a lot of fun working with you on that spot. You’re a very talented actor and creative. Always a pleasure to collaborate with you and from whom to gather valuable peer review.

  2. I agree with Joel. Jared consistently produces (contest) award-winning material and has proven to be successful in a very difficult industry to succeed in. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have on my “team” than the King himself. His rates are a bargain (you should consider going much higher for your demonstrated expertise, Jared). His input can help someone not only recover that cost, but win thousands. Plus gain quite a bit of exposure which never hurts. Who knows? He could help launch quite a few careers or like he said, help bring them to the next level.

    • Thanks Peter, I have received a lot of valuable input from you over the years and am grateful. thanks for coming to the Kingdom and posting such a great comment.

  3. Jared has helped me with not only with peer review but also on gear selection, lighting, timing and even acting tips. You’d be amazed at some of the small things in your spot that you might miss until Jared gets his eyes on it. Sometimes it can be the smallest script or edit adjustment that turns a spot from just average to a top contender with Jareds overview. He’s also going to tell you what you need to know to make your spot stronger even if it may be hard to hear. You do NOT want somebody to stroke your ego and tell you everything is great, you need to know the 100% truth from a proven video proffesional like Jared. I recently did a spot that I thought looked great, but then Jared did some peer review on it for me and suggested all kinds of little things the were easy to fix to make the spot even better. Just like everything in life it comes down to the details, and Jared is great at helping you hone in on what those details should look like;)

    • Hey Danny, Wow, thanks for the endorsement. You are right about the devil being in the details. Though potentially lengthy, often the list of things we can do to make our projects better are just a single professional’s fresh eyes away from happening.

  4. Great idea Jared! You’ve definitely spent a lot of your free time already on giving solid feedback on my work. I’ve always appreciated that. I’ve also been consistently amazed with your honesty and diligence in reviewing so many Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest entries that folks have submitted to you.

    • Hey Keith, thanks for posting your comment. Yes, absorbing and breaking down into distinct production elements the thousands and thousands of Doritos submissions over the years has helped me identify very common yet pervasive mistakes occurring in the projects of my fellow freelance video creators. It helped me in my decision making process to change the nature and purpose of the Kingdom.

  5. senor spielbergo

    Hi, I have some questions about how this will work:
    1. Will you give feedback on videos that are submitted to contests that you yourself are going to enter? If I send you a script for a contest and you are also planning to enter that contest, will you let me know you might have a conflict of interest before you accept my money? If I pay you $130 to help me with a video and then it turns out that you beat me in that contest I’ll not be happy.
    2. Will you only offer advice to one client per contest?
    3. What if I pay for your services and I’m not happy with them. Will you offer refunds?
    4. What if I send you a great script or a great first edit? If you can’t offer $90 of editing advice, would you offer a refund? Or will you just type out some BS advice that you know would be a bad idea to follow. Sorry, I do’t mean any insult when I say BS. It’s just I have paid for coverage before and some people just write a bunch of BS to justify their fee.
    5. $450 is a huge amount of money. I read your crash the super bowl reviews every year and they’re entertaining not really worth $100. (Just being honest, sorry again) I can’t pay 450 dollars without knowing what I am getting. Could you post a sample critique where you offer the kind of advice you described. I especially am interested in the scheduling advice. I’m interested in seeing a sample of what it would look like before I pay for it.
    6. What if I don’t take your advice and I win the contest anyway. Would I still have to pay you your 10%?

    • Oh-lah Señor Spielberg,
      I’ll take a shot at answering these questions to your satisfaction.
      1. Yes. There is always that chance you could be competing with me in a video contest. And even a greater chance that I will beat you in any contest we both entered. It is what I do. I win contests. That is why I am King. With this in mind, I suggest you enter contests where there is more than one winner. You then have the chance of chilling with me in the winner(s) circle.
      In order however for this business model to work, I will need to provide you knowledge/insight that makes you a better producer…..otherwise you will never return for more insight. My service wouldn’t last too long if I intentionally sabotaged all of my customers. You’ll just have to exercise a measure of faith on this.
      2. I’ll offer advice to anyone who asks for it. You need to remember that the advice I provide will (should) stay with the recipient for the rest of their career. It should contain direction that will be applied to future projects. It should not be considered a 0 sum experience for/to the specific contest for which it was given.
      3. As in any seminar, if you end up not getting much from the speaker, educator it could be for any number of reasons. For this reason you should only enter into a consultation contract where you have faith in the person providing the information and from someone you respect who has a proven track record of success. No, I will not refund a creative for an unsuccessful transfer of information.
      4. If you send me a script that is a “…great first edit.”, then like myself you are probably already successful on a regular basis, and I’m not sure you needed to come to me in the first place. That said, even the most successful writers in Hollywood, still benefit from peer review and revision. It’s dangerous to feel one is immune from improvement. Even if the critique brought to light only a single legitimate problem with style, form or process,…a correction that you could use for the rest of your editing career, that kept you from repeating the same mistake over and over again,… it would be difficult to convince me it wasn’t worth $430.00. RE: BS – Again, you need to have faith in the person whose seminar you attend. If, going in, you suspect it will be a BS session, you should probably seek your career consultation elsewhere.
      5. No reason to apologize, Señor Spielbergo. It’s a fair question. Should you purchase the comprehensive package of review and consultation, the $450.00 will require a substantial commitment on my part to thoughtful critique and review. It is my fee. If you feel the proceeds of which would fail to benefit, not only the project at hand, but also the balance of production you will execute in your career, than I too think you would be paying too much.
      6. If you do not take the advice offered, and still win the contest it is clear either you got very lucky or really had no need for my services in the first place. If however it is the only contest you’ve every won, and is among several dozen attempts, it could be a fluke, and would beg taking a serious look at what The Video Contest King has to offer.

      Hope to see your work.
      The King

  6. Jared has given me several strategic suggestions towards the development of my YouTube channel (140,000 subscribers), as well as production advice in regards to my popular web series, The Fuplers. He’s extremely qualified, creative, and understands filmmaking down to the last detail. I’ve been in film production for 20 years and rarely run into people who can “speak the language” of my experience. Jared is more than fluent. He also always delivers a very honest and extremely detailed critique. I would assure anyone that whatever the cost, Jared will be putting in the time, and bringing the value. His efforts are always 100%, and he fully understands the importance of customer service.

    • Hey Matt,
      What an endorsement, from Mr. Hollywood himself. I wish I could agree with you about the extent to which I’ve played a part in your success. You really have yourself to thank for what you’ve accomplished. I think you choose carefully the people with whom you network and the resultant information you gather. Many people can do this, but few apply it like you have. You are very efficient at it. But anyone who knows the King, knows I rarely turn down a compliment, so I do accept the plug.
      Thanks again. {;-])

      P.S. I moved the price list to the bottom of the blog post, as you advised. Thanks for the tip. You have also been a valuable resource for information over the years. Long live peer review.

  7. This is an excellent idea Jared. Time is very valuable. Your time can be exceptionally educational and (if executed correctly by the scholar/apprentice/jester) profitable.
    I want the Kingdom to know that Jared has given his time to me over past few years. His comments have made me a better story teller/filmmaker and in turn, a competitive entrant.
    Although my credentials** are not as impressive as the King’s, here are my stats over my 5 years as a contestant:
    – 14 Contests Entered
    – 4, 1st place wins
    – 1, 2nd place win
    – 1, monthly 1st place
    – 1, 3rd place win
    – Total Awards, in the Thousands
    **stats only presented to encourage readers regarding peer critique – not self-righteousness
    Some creatives will only see what Jared is presenting as an additional expenditure for a contest and they will miss out. Remember, “You gotta spend money to make money.” Constructive criticism from a proven (and successful) source is priceless.
    No matter what, it’s important for the Kingdom to know that one will never grow without input from an audience. The director’s ability to adapt with open ears and a thick skin will prove to separate them from the pack.

    Thanks for all your help Jared. Although I have left the Video Contest world (for now) to focus on my career, the lessons learned apply in every aspect of life. Tell a good story, keep your audience engaged, present it cleanly and never give up. Best of luck in your new venture.
    Mike Beaudoin

  8. senor spielbergo

    Jared, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. But I think I’m going to have to pass. Something just seems a bit hinky here. You’ve got all these people leaving carefully scripted positve comments and it’s kind of obvious that you asked them to post testimonials. And that’s fine I guess. But some of those comments look kind of fake and none of them actually said they plan to pay for your services in the future. You also brushed passed my question about posting a sample critique. How are people supposed to know what they are getting? I sincerly don’t understand what your Shooting Schedule Coverage would look like. Since you offer no refunds I’m not going to gamble $100 to find out how insightful it is.

    Finally, I’m sorry to be rude but someone needs to tell you this for your own good. Your condescending attitude is very off-putting. No one wants to pay $450 just so they can get talked down to. You don’t know any thing about me or the contests I won. I have been a filmmaker for more than 10 years and I have won thousands of dollars in Poptent and Tongal contests plus I’ve won some smaller contests too. So if I didn’t take your advice and I still won, I don’t think it would be a lucky fluke. I can understand you saying that you might enter the same contest as me but to come out and say that you’re probably going to beat me in that contest? You lost my business the second I read that. Not because I’m worried about losing to you but because it was unnecessarily boastful and worse, probably a lie. Lets call a spade a spade here. If you really could win any contest you wanted so easily, why would you waste your time doing script coverage for 25 bucks a pop? Just be honest and humble man and people will respond to your new positive attitude.

    Good Luck,

    • Hey S.S.,
      I’ve found that creating a shooting schedule helps me to get all of the work done that I’ve planned on any given shoot day. My shot list is a schedule of sequential shots with a goal of never visiting the same scene twice (wasting time). Achieving the most practical order of shooting taking into consideration the logistics of difficulty, location, props etc., can make for an economic use of shooting hours. As part of my service I will ‘not‘ create your shot list or shooting schedule. That would’t be of much help as a teaching tool. You must evaluate your script and deduce your own, which I will review and provide critique for. Hope that makes sense.
      Yes, upon embarking on this new chapter in the Video Contest Kingdom, I asked a few of those whom I’ve peer reviewed with in the past if they could share their experiences on the blog post. None of them have been paid to do so, and frankly all are of the character that I don’t think such would be possible. Each have a link back to their website (body of work), and you may judge for yourself whether they are credible or fictitious.
      Again, after reading of your much success as a video producer, you may find yourself not wanting/needing to spend much time in the Kingdom. Peer review is not for everyone. There will always be a minority of creatives who can put ego aside sufficient to receive and apply only those parts of review applicable to improving their craft. Where one feels they need no improvement, they ought not utilize this site or any peer review mechanism for that matter. If you can’t stomach the moxie that is part of the chip on the King’s shoulder (and there is a sizeble chip), than the my services will probably not work for you. If being “…hinky…” disables the average Chicagoan from taking part in the process, I’ll have to live without your presence in the kingdom.
      Effective immediately will be the ‘No AnonymityRule on the VCK. For those visitors not man or woman enough to represent themselves without hiding behind a ‘hinky’ basement blogger pseudonym, there will be no seat at the royal roundtable. So Señor Spielbergo, please return with a real name and similar to the ‘brave’ gentlemen who posted before you, a place where we can view your award winning work. You then may than take part in our discussion. Otherwise continue to enjoy your erstwhile blogging.
      The King

    • I am probably the least in this kingdom. And I have no website. It’s no big deal (really), but the best I have to offer in that regard is my listing on the imdb:

      The other and greater members of the kingdom can speak for themselves. And like Jared said, my testimonial was sincere, Mr. Spielbergo. Best wishes in your endeavors.

  9. Jared,

    I always LOVE where your head is at, brother. Other than being extremely talented and refreshingly creative, you never cease to amaze me with your generosity in sharing your knowledge, but more importantly, your honest opinion with my projects. This new route that you are trying out is yours for the taking. Meaning, you have all the skills and know how to become a successful consultant in all areas of pre-production, production and especially post production.

    I owe you all the gratitude in the world. You have made me a better filmmaker and overall storyteller. I’m excited to work with you again on future projects to further develop our friendship and working relationship as well. The constructive criticism you have given me over the years has been nothing, but POSITIVE for my expanding career. Although, we live 2,000 miles apart from one another, it never bothers me to give you a call to ask for your input about a work project or short film. Actually, when we first met in person a few years ago, it honestly felt like I knew you my entire life. I’m confident that your community of peers and clients feel the same way! Let’s catch up soon on the ticker!!! All the best my friend.

    Skene 19 Films

  10. I have used Jareds skills in video editing for quite some time now. As a video contest enthusiast it is important to make your project look as polished and professional as possible. Your friends and peers will tell you what you want to hear and your family hardly ever tells you what you need to hear. Having a proven professional who can critique and give valuable input from a non bias point of view is golden! Because of the Video King’s input and guidance my videos have not only 1 me money but have heightened the quality of what I am now producing

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