Julian Gratton

Choosing the right Director for your TV Advert or Online Video

Every Commercials Director has a vision when it comes to a production. And this vision can lead to wildly different end products. So it’s important that you take time in choosing the right Director for your project. Here are some essential tips to helping you find the right Director.

The reel

As in any profession, there are good and bad craftsmen. So there’s no shame in asking to see what a Director has done previously so you can feel comfortable in handing them the reigns of your project.

In their body of work you should look for similarities between what they have done previously and your impending production. Performances, use of music, cinematography, on-screen messages, the overall feel of the advert (to name just a few). These are all elements that you are trusting your Director with; so make sure what you see in their past work makes you feel comfortable that they will do a great job for you.

The treatment

A good TV Advertising Agency and Production company should ask several Directors to write treatments for you so you can see the different ways your idea can be executed.

The treatment is essentially the Director’s pitch to you. It’s his/her vision for how the final piece of film will end up. Here at Red C we always ask for at least three treatments to be produced and will throw our weight behind the one we feel will achieve the Client’s objectives and best serve the concept. A good Agency and Production company will do the same and give you a long list of reasons why a certain Director should be chosen.

Here’s what you should be looking out for in a Director’s treatment:

Their overall understanding of the concept and your objectives. Are you driving sales or building a brand? Or are you doing both? Do they fully understand your concept, your target audience, the competition and your product, service or brand? A Director should set out all of these at the beginning of their treatment, which will make you feel comfortable that they understand you and your aims.

  • The ‘look’ of the advert and their choice of cinematographer.

Does your concept call for a vintage look and feel? Does it need to feel summery and warm? In their treatment your Director will suggest a look and feel for your advert that will affect everything from the set design or location (if the concept calls for one) to the casting, hair and make-up and music. Their chosen look will also influence their choice of Cinematographer. In this part of the treatment you should expect a lot of visual reference to accompany how they envisage your advert looking.

It’s at this point in the treatment that a Director will also introduce you to some of the other filmmaking professionals they want to work with. The Cinematographer, hair and make-up, set designers, post production companies, animation houses… everyone involved in the creation of your end product should be introduced to you in this part of the treatment.

  • Their approach to onscreen graphics

Believe it or not but there are quite a few Commercial Directors out there who forget that the reason they are hired is to create a Commercial and not a piece of art… and by definition a Commercial is ‘Making or intended to make a profit’.

You’ll be amazed how many Directors want sales messages and logos hidden away and not interrupting their lovely visuals. So the treatment is your opportunity to make sure the Director understands and buys into the level of sales messaging you want on your advert.

Maybe you don’t want anything and just want a simple message at the end of your advert. Or perhaps you have several that need to be strategically placed throughout the commercial to create impact. Always make sure a Director covers off onscreen graphics in his/her treatment so you end up working with someone who understands the level of commercialism you want to achieve.

  • A breakdown of how they will film the advert

A frame-by-frame or scene-by-scene approach to how someone will tackle your advert is an essential part of any Director’s treatment. Here the Director will discuss the technical issues each shot raises and how they will overcome these. They will cover elements like the time each shot will be on screen for and start to hint at what kit they will require to make the shot the best it can be.

The best Directors take a methodical approach to this part of the treatment. This is their chance to show you how passionate they are about your project and the care and attention they will take in bringing it to life. They will probably raise issues here that you have never thought of and offer a number of solutions to solving them.

  • Why them

Finally, a good Director will end their treatment with a closing pitch statement. This will take the form of a brief description and rationale as to why they are right for your project, reiterating several points covered in the treatment to make you feel at ease with them being in charge of your production.

The person

Finally, feel free to ask to meet your shortlisted Directors and perhaps ask them to talk through their treatment. You want to be able to feel that the Director you choose is a team player, someone who will take charge but is equally open to suggestions for improvement.