Today we’d like to introduce you to Zach Heffner.
Zach, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I have always balanced sports and art throughout my life…I grew up in the theater as much I as did on the athletic field…always drawing comparisons between the two…mostly in the motivation behind pursuing each and what it takes to persevere.
In college I was a scholarship athlete and a theater major, pretty rare, at least at my school. My first job out of school had me anchoring the sports segment for the nightly news on a small CBS affiliate. Real one-man-band style of filming. Learned a lot on that job.
Then, the unthinkable happened. I got the opportunity to play professional sports.
About a year after graduation, I saw my name on a draft board, and the next five years had me on the road 9 months a year pursuing my childhood dream. An amazing time for me, but I knew my end goal wasn’t a lifelong career as a pro athlete, I wanted to tell stories, capture beautiful images and help empower people through my work.
So, in 2008, I retired from the playing field and opened Verdict Digital as a small boutique production house and relying on my contacts from my sports days, started working within the sports world pretty quickly. Small brands at first, but over time getting cooler and jobs with bigger and bigger brands.
We focused more on the ‘why’ in our stories more than the ‘what’. As an athlete myself I knew the hardships faced by many to achieve goals and success…so we wanted to uncover those types of stories with our brand work.
Has it been a smooth road?
Choosing a path of self-employment, especially within an artistic field, is often a tough road. Everybody starts somewhere, and entrepreneurs usually have to start small and build. So in the ‘small’ years, you are doing everything yourself, and it takes a tremendous amount of will to set out on that path. The hard part is still finding time to be creative all the while making sure bottom lines are being covered, deadlines are being met. running a business isn’t often as cool as it seems.
There were times in the early years where I felt that I was spending time ‘on’ my business rather than actually doing business. But, I saw it as a necessary step for future growth.
That has been the biggest struggle though, balancing art and business now.
Also overtime your workflow process improves due to experience and necessity, so there’s a lot of learning on the fly in the beginning. But that everything in life. No one knows has innate technical knowledge. We all learn along the way.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Verdict Digital – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We are known for telling emotive stories with the active / healthy brand space. Trying to improve yourself while making the world around a better place is something that I think we all should try and do. So we find brands that use their product to empower consumers. We tell those kind of stories, wherever a product cross lines with the human interest element…that’s where the good stuff is.
I feel it’s important to be authentic in your work, and this is a field that matters to me and my crew away from filming or crafting stories. In the early years, we would seek out brands that we wanted to work with based on that ethos. It’s really great now, because they are seeking us out.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
LA is a special place for me. I think for me the best part about LA is just the energy you feel. There is a tremendous amount of creative drive in the city and that motivates me to keep putting better and better work out there. I feel a large push from the creative energy and I think that’s why a lot of us creatives call this place home. Also, I’ve never felt a city as visceral as LA. Sure, NY is amazing and super inspiring in its unique NYC way, but the LA brand is very unique in its own right.
Trees. I miss trees.
I grew up in upstate NY near the Adirondacks and used nature as source of inspiration as a kid. There’s big nature in LA, but not huge trees and forests like that. Oh, and thunderstorms.
*I’m sure a lot of people answer ‘traffic’ to that question, but if you buy a pair of cheap drumsticks, then your steering wheel becomes a drum set…and traffic a jam session. Pass it on.
- Address: Hayden Ave, Culver City Los Angeles
- Website: VerdictDigital.com
- Phone: 310.844.3425
- Email: zach@Verdictdigital.com
- Instagram: @VerdictDigital
- Facebook: VerdictDigital
- Twitter: @VerdictDigital