Friday, May 18, 2007

What Does Everyone Do?

Well, I'm back.

A seven-day shoot.

Completely knackered. Watching a film crew lift heavy pieces of equipment can really tire a man out.

As I haven't really written that much on my blog about the actual shooting of adverts, maybe now is an appropriate time to start.

And where better to begin than with the Director?

Creatives obsess about directors. I think that's because we know it's the director who has the biggest influence on the final ad. And whereas we can't choose our account team, client, or creative director... we do get to choose our director.

It's partly fear too. A script - like architects' plans and mathematical formulae - is perfect, in the way that no finished artefact can be. When you hand your script to a director, you are handing it to the man who turns your perfect Euclidean construct into rough-and-tumble reality. Of course, sometimes they'll make it better than the blueprint. But the fear that they'll cock it up is always there.

Over the years I've noticed that it doesn't really matter if you and the director have wildly divergent personalities. As long as you have the same vision for the ad, you'll probably get on well.

If you do fight a lot then A) you probably picked the wrong director and B) you probably won't end up with a good ad.

It's a strange relationship though. The director has ultimate power on the set. 50 or so people jump to their commands. And yet if the creative says "can we try it this other way...?" then they kind of have to listen. But you feel guilty. It's like giving orders to an emperor.

There's a lot of mystique around directors. Who's on the way up, who's on the way down. Who flies a runner from Iceland down to Soho to bring back a certain coffee bean for him. Who's shagging who, who's earning how much, who's moving production companies, who can't get work any more, who's getting 50 scripts a week.

Most of it's hearsay. I once thought of setting up a website - - where creatives could log in to give anonymous feedback on the man behind the camera.

Until then, I'm happy to give this feedback in public:

Simon Ratigan of HLA has done a great job for us so far.


Anonymous said...

..and who was allowed to talk to him?


These posts are really useful.Always nice to learn about craft

Unknown said...

very curious about the finished piece! thanks for sharing all your experiences!

Anonymous said...

Directors are overrated. Unfortunately they stay overrated because there are so few good writers. Get a great writer and a great director and you have either a massively great film or a massive fight. The frisson of tension makes the whole thing massively enjoyable.

moi said...

Great post scamp, can't wait to see the final ad.

Anonymous said...

Writer. Sorry to say this but your comment is a ridiculous generalisation - about both directors and writers (shouldn't that be creatives anyway?). And i think fights are not very common these days. My experience of working with some of the very best directors is that they're also very nice people - and if you treat them with respect they'll do the same to you

Anonymous said...

Nice post Scamp. I think it's like you say - find a director who agrees with you about how the ad should look and feel - then you should be OK. You don't have to be best mates with them, mainly because that won't make your ad any better. Of course, it's very nice if you can all be best friends, but it's not necessary.

We worked with Simon before and he was excellent. He has a very well tended moustache.

Anonymous said...

i've always found that if you have creative freedom the best thing to do is pass that freedom on to the director. ie, not be the bad, controlling client. and let them do what they were hired to do. they love it as much as we creatives do and they work a lot harder when they understand that it's all on their shoulders.

PS: i've heard you kooky limeys give directors final cut approval. is that true?

Scamp said...

Yes it does work slightly differently over here - the director is often (but not always) still involved right through to the end of the process.

So although they don't have final cut approval, they are final cut involved.

Anonymous said...

I say it's all about chain of comand. One should only give comments when one actally knows what they are talking about. Stepping in just for the sake of justifing your salary is mistake(indulgance) made to often in advertising. I witnessed many great scripts being ruined by the very people who wrote and aprooved them.(creatives, clients)Music is often left as an afterthought where in reallity it plays a major role to a good advert. Directors should be the one choosing the music as they often have the best sense of what will fit thier images. there you go...another, rarher large opinion! :)