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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > ask jancy >  Learning the production side of commercial work

Learning the production side of commercial work

I just went out and picked up your book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Here’s my situation. I have zero schooling in advertising per se, but I am a very creative person. I managed to get a job at a small ad agency as an account manager in Vancouver, and the only reason I did so was because I wanted to learn the agency side of creating commercials before I went out and spent my money on shooting my demo reel. My goal is to become a director.
Do you have any advice on taking the leap from ad agency to production company, and can you recommend any good books that deal with the commercial industry, particularly the production side?
I realize that’s not very clear – what I’m looking for is someplace where I can learn just how the production side of commercials work – how does a director get signed, and then how does a director get a job, how much creative input does the director have, etc…

intro Learning the production side of commercial workWe asked our super fab head of broadcast production at Ogilvy Toronto to answer your question oh so much more helpfully than we could. Here’s what Brenda Surminski has to say:

I do have a suggestion for a book that will take you through the journey of production, but don’t let let the title fool you. It’s called “Film & Video Budgets” by Deke Simon and Michael Wiese. These two guys are successful industry pros, have written over 50 books between the two of them on all aspects of filmmaking. Their books provide vital info for seasoned filmakers and novices alike as well as making for an entertaining read. It will take you through all the definitions of the various roles required to make a production happen. An invaluable book for someone interested in the production side.

In my experience someone who has agency experience is a real asset to a production company. Make your case to an Executive Producer at a production company who will be impressed that you can handle yourself in front of clients, that you are understanding of their needs as advertisers and can manage their expectations with a creative approach. Most production folks are more “behind the scenes” kind of people who appreciate when someone can be the front man. It’s all about instilling trust. Advertisers are spending big money and need to feel they’re in safe hands. Which leads me to your questions about directing. Of course, it happens in differents ways. The Executive Producer naturally needs to see what you’re capable of. It could be a student film or a demo reel of a few spec spots.

You should accompany examples of your film making with a written treatment of your thinking behind the shots. When it comes to doing a real ad, clients need to know your vision ahead of time in as much detail as you can provide. Being a good communicator is key – the ability to get others to buy into your vision is what gets you the job and your continued evolution of the core idea and enthusiasm for the project will ensure your input is welcome to the end.

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About Jancy

'Jancy' is Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk, Co-Founders of Swim, a unique “creative leadership training lab for advertising creatives and marketers.” Prior to Swim, Jancy was globally renowned as the Co-Chief Creative Officers of Ogilvy & Mather Toronto, a position they held for thirteen of the twenty years they were a creative duo at the agency. Over the years they've racked up Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show pencils and CA credits, and have lead their shop to two Cannes Lions Grand Prix and a Grand Clio. They've judged CA, Cannes, D&AD, the One Show, the Clios and other prestigious award shows. Creativity named them two of the top 50 creative people of 2008. Known for their outspoken, no-bullshit style and a passion for mentoring juniors, they're ready to give you advice if you're ready to take it.

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