Behind the Scenes of a Commercial

By Gravity Group

GVBF shoot set up

Here at Gravity group, one way we tell stories is with commercials.

It isn’t easy to pull off. I’m sure you’ve seen commercials get attention for their unique approach to grating on your nerves, and others which throw information at you until you change the channel out of disgust; a few manage to link their brand to a meaningful story. For one of my favorite examples of this, check out Air Wick’s “The Gift of Home” spot.

We strive to tell the meaningful story of the brand we’re working for, and it takes work. Once we have an idea in place, we uncap the dry erase markers and get to work.

The Idea Stage

Production meeting at Gravity

A typical production meeting scene. A demonstration of camera movement has taken the meeting into the lobby, and the the reflection of my notes visible in the window.

While Christian and Mark brainstorm over a white board, I’m nearby taking as many notes as possible and intermittently offering my opinion. Visualization of our goals (literally, as we determine what we want the commercial to look like) at this stage is crucial if our team is going to be on the same page.  After an hour or two, we have boiled down the mass of thoughts, adjustments, and inspirations into a specific set of ideas that we can start bringing into reality.

As the producer, I begin thinking ahead as soon as we start to see the idea form. I work with the other members of the team to secure the right location, get the right actor, and make sure my teammates have the information they need when they need it, so they can realize our great idea to its fullest potential. As soon as Mark and Christian have capped their dry-erase markers, it is my turn to step up.

Thinking of Everything

A typical to-do list, which could apply to nearly any project.

A typical to-do list of mine, which could apply to most Gravity video projects.

Once the marker ink has dried and I’ve taken pictures of what was drawn, I start to figure out each of the logistical details that we’ll need to pull this off. This involves many emails, phone calls, doorway conversations with coworkers, and tests of any new techniques we’re using; all of this information goes into my Production Planning Master, a document that, without any information filled in, is already three pages long.

The goal of this stage is to make sure that our team is equipped with everything we need to tell the thirty-second story. As the filming day approaches, I go over documents with all the information we could need: shot lists, contact information, props lists, and anything else that could be helpful on the day of. When my team is comfortable and confident the day before we film, I know I’ve done my job right.

On Set

Filming day is when it all comes together. As Mark and Christian work with the actors and get the shots they need, I am nearby with my clipboard making sure all the details are correct, that we are on schedule, and managing our gear. At any given point during a shoot I have a minimum of three things in my hands, pockets, or hanging off my belt, any of which could be needed at a moment’s notice. Many details are still my responsibility at this stage. There are a number of tasks which make the scenes the best they can be, and to this end I have become skilled at polite interruptions and tactful reminders.

As the shoot wraps up, all the boxes on my lists have been checked and it is time to stow the gear and head back to the office. While there is still a lot of work to do before the commercial airs, the pressure is off of me.

At least until next week’s shoot.

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