ANATOMY OF A PRODUCTION
Even clients who have experience hiring agencies and other companies to develop commercials and other video content for their brands may not be privy to everything a production entails.
So here is the process dissected, for the three-minute 1930-era short film we created for Filbert’s, the last independent soda maker in the Midwest:
1) Write a one-page creative and strategic brief, which will guide the work. The brief will include background about the brand and the consumer, creative considerations and opportunities, and an all-important insight.
2) Develop rough concepts, the best of which will be turned into tight scripts and presentation storyboards.
Our agency background and experience at Sticky are critical at these early stages. Once a concept is approved for production, we…
3) Begin casting and location scouting.
For what amounts to about five seconds of screen time in the video could take about five days of prep. Casting needed to be done for the woman in the car (Katy Boza, second photo, second row above was the talent), a hairstyle needed to be determined, a hair and makeup person needed to be hired.
The location of the movie theater needed to be determined and secured, and a movie that was popular in the summer of 1930 needed to be featured on the marquee (like Animal Crackers, starring The Marx Brothers).
4) Select wardrobe.
It could take a full day or more just to gather wardrobe, and another day just to try different options on the talent. These decisions are all made prior to the actual shoot, so everyone knows how they should look when the camera is ready to roll.
5) Identify and obtain props.
Our video for Filbert’s was set in the year 1930, so we needed to get cars from that era.
Finding the bike was a happy accident. We happened to see a house with an old bike in front and a sign that said BIKES FOR SALE. Our hero bike was buried in the guy’s garage. The playing card attached with a clothespin to the spokes had to be from the Bicycle brand.
Even the checkerboard, Indian head nickel, and goggles had to be authentic.
The newspaper prop was made from a scan of an actual newspaper from August 30, 1930, courtesy of the Glen Ellyn Historical Society.
6) Obtain shooting permits and any necessary insurance. Planning and paperwork throughout the process are a full-time job for the producer.
7) Develop shooting board and production schedule.
Sticky plans each shot so that production runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. The same is true for the schedule. Each day (there were four full shoot says for this production) is planned to the minute, factoring in times of day, where the sun is, how much time it will take for each set-up and each location move.
8) Rent needed production equipment.
9) Coordinate responsibilities of production crew, including principal actors and extras, hair/make-up, lighting, set design, audio, crowd control, etc.
11) Transfer and naming of video files. For a three-minute piece such as this video, this could take a couple of days.
12) Edit of rough cut. For a three-minute piece such as this video, editing could take a week or two.
13) Selection of music and voice-over, if necessary.
14) Color-correction of approved rough cut, plus any graphics and/or retouching.
15) Output of finished file for broadcast.
In total, a project like this could take six to ten weeks from start to finish. See the finished piece below.