The Official Adland Advertising Tutorial: Part Six - Creating TV commercials

The Adland tutorial series will now teach you the craft of being an obnoxious black turtleneck on the set of any commercial shoot. You'll fit in with the best of them!

Professors: Leslie Burns-Dell'Acqua, John Backman, Brandon Barr, Holger Wilcks, Åsk Dabitch, Marcus Engstrand, Brad Zabroski, Clayton T. Claymore, Huw Gildon and Grant Sanders (in no particular order) *

And remember kids always start every script with: "Open on a sun drenched beach" if the shoot is in winter and "open on a snowed in alpine cabin" if the shoot is in summer for extra travel points.

Chapter One - Sincere shooting advice advice for those unfamiliar with sarcasm:

At the pre-pro meeting, try to have the account director keep everyone waiting because he has an important phone call. This will let everyone know how important the account director is.

Cast the "everyman" character with some troll (see: Bud Lite ads) and pick a woman to play his wife/girlfriend who, while waaaaay out of his league, is hot and willing to sleep with you for the gig.

Always bring the client along to the shoot and let them advise the instructor and camera crew on how to do their job. Then stand back and watch the show. Remember to bring popcorn, soda and a getaway vehicle.

Make sure you wait until the day-of to get scripts final-approved by the client. The added importance of reviewing the script on set will make the client see things they didn't before. And all the last-minute changes will keep everyone on their toes.

Profess that your favorite Gam color is, in fact, "Bastard Amber." Then insist that the lighting designer use it. Lots.

Look for the Kudos bars in craft service. If they aren't there, complain loudly.

Always wait until the actors are in makeup to discuss your thoughts on their "motivations in this scene." This keeps them from throttling you.

If you're a copywriter and people ask you who you are, say "gaffer." You'll get treated better that way.

Show off your absolute authority over the creative on set by;
1) bringing your own directors chair. always position it 14-16 inches in front of the official director's chair
2) when everyone is on set, get a coworker to call your cell. Go behind a curtain or wall near by to take call. Talking loudly for everyone to hear, yell something like: "if my Pepsi isn't good enough for P-Ditty then he could find another flippin bag of nachos to sell. He's a has been!" [ in a german accent]. Then hang up and come back in a fury. Sit in your chair and ask director if everything is ready yet [in your regular voice].
3) Two minutes into rolling camera, jump up out of your seat and yell cut, cut, cut! Ask if this is being shot in HD, run over to one of the light kits and yell this freaking HMI is running at half amp.
4) Leave the set.
5) Come back 10 minutes later with a half eaten sandwhich and mayo on your cheek.
6) Sit
7) In 5 min repeat steps 2-5 exactly as they were done the first time.

Each morning on shoot spend four hours discussing one or more of the following: Dialogue, Wardrobe, Casting (or rather re-casting) , Location, Editing, Tagline. For example:

Write an entire new dialog, which in-fact changes the entire idea for the ad, the night before.

Let the AE explain how trendy kids look now a days to the stylist

Change the leads and demand more extras the night before

Stop liking the location, on location. Claim it looked different in the pictures on the PPM.

Teach the Director all about editing, while shooting.

Seconds before shoot - start directing extras.

Lines to use when things screw up:

"We'll fix it in post."

"Don't worry, when edited that won't be noticed."

"It's the magic of film!"

"At that point we can cut away to the exteriors your second unit is shooting today." (Of course, there isn't a second unit shooting).

Chapter Two - Originality in script writing:

When stuck, choose any of these failsafe funnies:

Doofus husbands doing stupid stuff
Violent pain
Animals doing stupid stuff
chimps (also animals)
Old people doing stupid stuff
High school sweetheart reunions

And the failsafe emotional props:

Doofus husbands doing endearing stuff
Violent pain
animal babies: ie; puppies
Mother Daughter Talks
Father son talks
For a fresh and brave twist do father/daughter, mother/son talks
Old people doing sentimental stuff
High school sweetheart reunions

Great starting points for any ad:

Gruff, hulk-sized biker as sensitive guy.
Sweet, frail grandmother as tough chick.
Sumo wrestler gags.
Wo/Man on the street interviews.
Product is so amazing it makes bizzare things happen.
Product is so amazing that people are awestruck by it and don't notice bizzare things happening around them.
Talking babies.
Hip old folks.
Drivers meeting each other at the stop light and talking.
Childish adults and their overly mature kids.
People acting weird and their pets looking surprised.
Person secretly uses product/service to make life easier and impresses the masses.
Monks - the vow of silence gag.
Television ads with a large crowd of people, a small group of people, or a single person running through the city.
The crazy lengths people will go to obtain the product and/or service.
Dim employees.
Dim customers.
Dim bosses.
Dim competition (rival product/sevice).
Surprise and/or dreaded visitor to a home.
A clumsy person doing clumsy things.
_______ is hard. (instructions, mornings, work, dating, marriage, life, etc.)
_______ isn't hard. (product use, penises, getting women aroused, spontaneous choreography, etc.)

Chapter 3: If you made it this far, here's some actual good advice:

When doing post, ask how long it will take, when you get "two hours" as a reply, move it to the next available time-frame, and double it - ie; four days.

Art Directors: Having a hard time getting the director to listen to your suggestions? Befriend the cameraman - the director listens carefully to him/her.

Copywriters: Stop writing camera angles into the script already.

Clients: Please don't attend the shoot. Most of the time spent is on preparation, which to an untrained eye can look like "doing nothing", and it makes people who foot the bill nervous as you know every minute costs. Let the professionals work in peace without your nervous energy around, and less time will be wasted on reassuring you that everything is going to be OK. In other words, it's cheaper.

* Also thanks to adgrunts Tlevitz, TDD, Robblink caffeinegoddess and k_ro23 in the forum thread: Overused Ideas

Missed a tutorial? No biggie. Check them out here:
The Official AdLand Advertising Tutorial Series - Part One: Radio
The Official AdLand Advertising Tutorial Series - Part Two: Viral Advertising
The Official AdLand Advertising Tutorial Series - Part Three: Art Direction
The Official AdLand Advertising Tutorial Series - Part Four: Holiday Ads
The Official AdLand Advertising Tutorial: Part Five - Account Executives
The Official AdLand Advertising Tutorial: Part Six - Creating TV commercials

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