I Create Birmingham: Robert Clay and Josh Snead
“We are able to film all over Birmingham and collaborate with creative minds and contract all of our cast, crew, prop-makers, and set designers right here in town… The community involvement is incredible. People are always interested and eager to help.”
Robert Clay and Josh Snead are the hilarious duo behind SEC Shorts, the smartly satirical YouTube series that parodies SEC sports, particularly college football and its fanbases. From a friendship built on mutual boredom at the “worst ever” corporate job to a partnership in a passion project that has garnered the attention of ESPN College Gameday and averages close to 60 million views, Robert and Josh are in on the joke and inviting everyone to laugh along with them.
How did the two of you meet?
Robert Clay: I decided it would be a good idea to graduate from film school during the recession, so I ended up filming and editing medical lectures for doctors’ continuing education programs. Josh and I worked together.
Josh Snead: We essentially created disgusting PowerPoint presentations, like “Here is the inside of your bowels” for forty hours a week. I was there for nine years.
That’s a far cry from the filming and production you do now!
RC: It definitely gives you perspective! I have been so appreciative of the opportunities we’ve had since. I wish I could go back and tell 25 year-old Robert, “You hang in there.”
JS: When you finally get the chance to do something creative that you love doing, it feels like a huge blessing! We were so sad then. Every day we looked forward to three o’clock when we would go to Dairy Queen and get a small dip cone just to have some sort of joy. But, after a while even that didn’t work.
RC: Yeah. If the dip machine was broken, it ruined the week. We would just look at each other like, “What are we going to do?”
How did you get started with SEC Shorts, and where do you plan to go with it?
RC: We’re both college football fans. In 2014, The SEC Network launched and The Paul Finebaum Show asked for video content from viewers. Basically, they were looking for fan-generated video rants to fill the show’s four- hour time slot. We decided to submit a really polished sketch because we thought it would up our chances of getting noticed and on television.
JS: That was the motivation: “How can we get on tv?” The feedback we got was positive, and they asked us to produce one a week for them. Now we are producing two a week: one for the SEC network and one for social media. We were so excited when we first got started! That moment of getting our LLC and a bank account felt like major accomplishments!
RC: And now, we are independent. We have moved our office into MAKEbhm and we have a ten-by-ten foot storage unit we are incredibly proud of. Most importantly, we are able to film all over Birmingham and collaborate with creative minds and contract all of our cast, crew, prop-makers, and set designers right here in town.
JS: The community involvement is incredible. People are always interested and eager to help. Moving forward, our goal is to move from the seasonal content of the football calendar to year-round content and a podcast. We’re not really x’s-and-o’s kind of guys and never have been, but I think there is still plenty to talk about when it comes to sports and especially their fans and culture.
Let’s talk about the creative process. What inspires you? What is your greatest obstacle? What is your greatest strength?
JS: We are always trying to zero in on what everyone is going to be talking about on Monday and what is “shareable” on social media. Our biggest obstacle is definitely time.
RC: Time is our blessing and our curse. We have to work quickly to turn things around while the joke is still relevant, and the conversation changes constantly. It’s easy to overthink every line when you have too much time, so we have to trust our instincts. We are always asking ourselves and each other, “Is this funny?”
JS: We butt heads sometimes on what we are working on, but we’re truly fortunate to be partners and friends. We have our own gifts and always find a way to make it work. At this point, we can effectively communicate with each other with just hand signals and mumbling.
RC: We work hard. Late nights and Sundays are part of the process, but we have a good time together. You can usually find us after-hours doing karaoke at The Brown Derby.
Interview by Tonia Trotter
Photo courtesy of SEC Shorts