Transcript by Marcus Honesta.
“HE COULDN’T DIRECT TRAFFIC OUT OF SIGHT ON A DARK NIGHT”
(HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT DIRECTOR)
Things you need to consider:
“How Directors Think”. (Written by an experienced Commercial Director)
To directors, appearances are everything. I’m not just talking about the look of the commercials they deliver. The DOP and crew, the editor, the favored musicians, the company’s offices, where they eat, are all carefully selected to project a certain image. An image it is hoped will appeal to the Creative Directors, copywriters and art directors whose job it is to recommend them. These same CD’s, copywriters and art directors, are in turn judged in part, on the directors they choose to work with.
It would be simple enough you would think for directors to be assessed only by the quality of their work. But that would require them to turn down scripts they didn’t believe in or couldn’t creatively commit too. Many times I have witnessed Director’s Treatments that begin with the qwords: “Thank you so much for the opportunity to present my ideas to bring such a truly groundbreaking script to life.” (Or similar) Reading between lines it is often evident they are only in it for the money. Months after the commercial has aired, it is nowhere to be seen on the production company’s show reel.
Directors are only human. They hide behind the glamour and mystique that surrounds the film business. But truthfully it is mostly a smokescreen created to protect their insecurities, the inconsistent availability of work, their ageing and their dwindling award tally. Their biggest fear is falling out of fashion. This is all balanced against their need to provide effective advertising for their clients, a good life for their families and themselves, and a responsible reputation in the marketplace while at the same time maintaining a commitment to the craft they have spent their life developing.
I will detail later further thoughts as to the process of creating a television commercial, but suffice it to say it is nowhere near as mysterious or complex as it is made out to be. No doubt this will not sit comfortably with some of my contemporaries. But I put it to you that the reason for this is the traditional dislike for what some folk colloquially call ‘the whistle- blower syndrome’. I suppose it’s a bit like revealing a magician’s tricks.
I think what keeps you going in this business are the extraordinary eccentrics, the obsessed zealots and the truly delusional optimists. Perhaps there is a smattering of each of these characters in us all.
The truly crazy ones make it worthwhile for the rest of us to get up every day and try to discover how they perceive the world.
The zealot sees nothing but his or her own perception of reality, and believes that it is completely in tune with what all others see regarding how the world works.
And bless the delusional optimists. They have yet to deal with the political world in which all films are made. The compromises that have to be made to meet the demands of maintaining a responsible public image, a corporate governance or marketing objectives that every product or service demands. These considerations all play an influential role in a commercials final outcome. Then there’s research which comes with all the personal prejudices of those who control and participate in the groups.
I have often been quoted, that ‘if you want art, buy a painting’. Whoever first said it must never have attempted to communicate a simple message in just thirty seconds. Trying to stay faithful to a client’s vision, wants and needs, the challenges provided by dealing with creative scripts that have no relevance to the brief, constant account service interference, is a formidable challenge. But that’s why there are directors. If everyone could do it we wouldn’t need to hire you.
It is only those who can master this absurd conjuring act that end up staying vaguely sane within an insane paradigm.
Why did I write this? I thought it might assist, when looking for a future director, if you understand a little about how they think.
PART TWO NEXT WEEK….
IF IT WERE MY MONEY, THIS IS HOW I WOULD GO ABOUT THE PROCESS OF SELECTING, THE RIGHT PERSON TO DIRECT MY NEXT COMMERCIAL.