Monday, September 22, 2008

The Trauma Of Ad Land

Trauma, I tell you. Not that I am any kind of expert. I have only existed in the production side of Advertising. Shooting the TV commercial. A recent foray into directing highlighted many not-very-romantic bits of the profession. The irritating bits. I could suppose that any job has these kinds of problems, but how would I know?

I got the awesome opportunity to shoot a music video for a really nice song. Thrilling. My first job as a director for my company, with, like, a whole crew and everything. (Not just lonely old me shooting, directing, editing, and youtubing). A real music video, for real people, going to real tv stations.


So, first of all: Pull off an awesome original idea to please the band and my producer, with no budget. Well, yes, okay. There was a budget, but really, it kind of almost covered the costs of the crew, and everything else was all favours and kindness. Keeping in mind that impressing the producer in this case was very important, as it would most very definitely affect my chances of becoming a director proper. Which, so far and to this day, remains my ambition.

I think of three million ideas. Many are vetoed by Producer Guy. Many never make it his office. Many aren’t possible on The Mini Budget. Keep those ideas, hope to use them some day. Eventually, an awesome idea arrives. I am relieved. I BELIEVE in this idea. A lot. Producer Guy unconvinced, but likes it and sees potential. I nurture the idea, and plans are made. I present to the band. They like it a lot, and decide to believe in the new girl. All is good.

A grand trauma of finding somewhere to shoot follows this victory; and enough people to volunteer to be in the video because of The Mini Budget. Okay, found a location. The finding of the people is coming along nicely. The deadline will be met.

I am furiously storyboarding, and after a discussion with my DOP, realize that fitting in all the shots I need in one day is going to kill us. But we can’t afford a Day Two. He gives me an idea of how many hours, and it is many. But he is a nice guy, and offers to work with no charge for overtime hours, regardless of how long we carry on. Obviously, being blonde has its perks.

The day arrives. I am there at 04:30. Clearing the room, setting up the camera and equipment. Cast members begin to arrive, we shoot each person on their own, a different set up, dressing and lighting for each scene. 30 people. 1 Day. It is madness. My feet get really sore. My VT operator brings me a box at one point and forces me to sit down because I am not getting any rest. One chic never arrives. Another girl arrives an hour late, fucked on something. Coming down off something. Couldn’t understand what I wanted from her, kept giving me the same performance every time and kept looking at the camera. Had to trash her altogether. Thank god we were shooting on HD, not wasting film. Fuck. One chic is so incredibly hot, but with only one facial expression. Must be weird to fuck her. Someone else had an eye infection and we planned a close-up so we had to change that plan.

My DOP turns out to be a fucking perfectionist. Which is great, except we have different ideas about the end result. He is going for lank pretty and tweaks the lights for ages. I want natural and much darker lighting. We argue politely over every shot. It slows us down. We run late by about an hour and a half. Not good, but kind of normal. At one point, at about four o’ clock, Producer Guy arrives. Watches for a bit on the VT monitor n the other room. Pulls me aside and gives me his opinion. Tells my production manager that we have to hurry the fuck up and he doesn’t want us working beyond 9pm. Bah. Whatever.

It’s a great shoot. The crew are having fun. They like working for me, which is great, because I have seen plenty of directors thoroughly despised on set by the crew. I’m the only girl, and they are calling me “yes sir, uh, um, ma’am . . . . “ Personally, I like “Sir” better. “Tart” is pretty cool, too.

We are all fucked by the end of the day, but miraculously finish by about nine thirty. My feet are sore up to my knees. My eyes are aching. We clean up and go home. Now comes the rest of it. The editing. I really liked my editor, but he just couldn’t get it right. I spend many hours trying to tweak it because he can’t seem to make it kick. It plods along, all neat and annoying. I am convinced I can get it better. Until Producer Guy tells me I have spent quite enough time on this project and hurry the fuck up and finish. So it gets squished into a “finished” result. Yeah. The band sees it. They make changes. They change it back. Producer Guy adds his two cents. Then off it goes to plonk the animation in where the green screen is. Easy peasy. Except it is not. Clean edges are not happening.

The editor graded the footage off the tape, not the film stock. (The scenes for this bit was shot on film. The rest, HD). Wow. They redo it. Oh, surprise, clean edges, and Voila! The perfect plonking in of animated backgrounds. That was a fucking panic.

In the end, I can’t even look at it anymore. It takes me about four months before I even want to. When I finally do, I see it turned out okay. But okay isn’t really good enough.

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