Your company has invested a good chunk of change to produce a TV commercial, whether it’s for a national or local run. The schedule is set. You’re excited that you’re going to be there to represent your company, possibly for your first ever shoot. Depending on the budget, the crowd may include the director, DP, producer, crew, talent, hair/makeup, stylist, craft (food) people and personnel from the ad agency: art director, writer, producer, and account executive. Here are some tips on how you can be viewed as a “good client” and help make the typical one day of shooting enjoyable.
You should be up to speed before you even come to the set or location. Just because you’ve seen the approved storyboard doesn’t mean you know enough. A preproduction meeting covers the details: the names of the key players and contact information, the style of clothing for the talent, any supers and logos planned, hero product (one specially created without the small type of normal packaging), a shot list (not always in the same order as the storyboard frames), the schedule from start to delivery of the final edit, so on. Decisions will still need to be made during the shoot but any advance questions or differences of opinion need to be addressed at the preproduction meeting.
Making decisions in the meeting doesn’t necessarily mean those will be final decisions. Expect changes to happen. Maybe one of the dialogue lines or the action involved takes more time than allotted and requires editing on the spot. If it’s a legal issue, you may have to put in a call to get the revision approved. Maybe the director thinks the wardrobe you agreed upon looks too distracting in the shot and you have to pick another. What looks good on paper may not work that well in execution and require last-minute adjustments.
Time is money and interruptions do waste time. Observe the protocol. If you have a problem, refrain from constantly rushing over to the director to express your concerns. Talk to the account executive or agency producer who in turn will either answer your questions or alert the director when it’s appropriate. Keep in mind that everyone wants to accommodate you, as the client. On the other hand, respect the opinions of the production experts if they suggest alternative solutions.
Even though you are the client, when lunch break comes, the crew goes to the head of the line. Besides, you will definitely not be starved since you can hover around the nosh table all day.
If you’re up to so many takes on one setup that it’s eaten up an extra half hour of the planned schedule, the shoot may go into overtime. It’s not unusual for a company to approve overages of up to 10%. But if your budget is too tight to extend beyond the contracted hours, you want to make sure you’re not responsible for any needless delays.
An editor once calculated that every added person in the room added another half hour of editing time. Yes, express your opinion and ask for alternate shots if you know that the one chosen will be objectionable for some reason. But nit pick only if you can afford it.
A TV commercial shoot can be fun since there is a lot of sitting around between setup changes. You can learn a great deal about what it takes to bring a TV commercial off the page and on to the screen, and meet interesting people at the same time. “Good client” definitely contributes to a “good shoot.” As they say, “that’s a wrap.”