As narrated to Marcus Honesta.
IF IT WERE MY MONEY, THIS IS HOW I WOULD GO ABOUT THE PROCESS OF SELECTING THE RIGHT PERSON TO DIRECT MY NEXT COMMERCIAL.
The value of a Director’s treatment?
Most clients and agencies demand a director write a treatment. I suppose it could be called a vision of how the commercial they propose to make will look and feel. The difficulty with this is that you are hiring a Director to make a film, not write a novel.
Some directors write better than others. The more insidious, and more often the most successful, have their treatments written for them by specialist scribes whose business it is to make the directors look good.
So what should we make of this process?
Without question the only way to judge whether a director is capable of bringing your product’s creative vision to the screen is to speak with them directly, view their past work, determine if they are committed to the project and establish if their interpretation of the script matches yours. Only then can you determine if your director of choice will do justice to your brand’s position in the market place.
I realise that it is most unlikely that I will ever persuade clients or agencies to dispense with these dinosaurs: (the initial treatment process). However, consider this…
Write down a list of the most critical imperatives your script must address.
Look at the reels offered to you by your agency supporting their recommendation for the best director for your project.
Meet with the recommended Directors to get a feel for what it might be like to work with them.
Decide on two or three, then get them to write a detailed shot list explaining how the believe the story will unfold.
After this process, then and only then, ask directors to write a treatment.
Truthfully this is the only way you will be able to judge the best person to execute your script. By the way, don’t forget that this is the public face of your brand for possibly for the next 2 years.
You are the one who will have to live with the decision, and it is you who will be held accountable for the finished commercial.
Truthfully, if ever there was a waste of time and money it would be hard to go past agencies presenting drawn storyboards. I hear the cries now “This is part of our corporate agreement storyboards are essential for us to move forward” but truly what exactly do we get from a collection of usually badly drawn, ill-conceived stick figures.
A storyboard has never been drawn that accurately took camera lensing, location, positioning and / or proper transitions between scenes into account. So what do they bring to the process? Perhaps a little comfort for those who do not understand how films are made. Perhaps the huge amount of money spent on developing these useless pictures would be better deployed on educating young teams as to what to expect and how to judge the value of each scene in a commercial.
I realise of course that my view will be most unpopular and create a degree of controversy. But I say with absolute conviction that after 30 years and making over 2600 television commercials, I have never seen a storyboard from an advertising agency that could be turned into a television commercial.
A big statement, I can hear you say? But unless a storyboard contains all the elements of the film that is to be produced, including the aforementioned transitions between scenes, actual lensing, the positioning of the cast in relation to the location, then they provide no useful purpose.
My strongest advice would be to forget storyboards and get the director to produce a shooting board, which should truly represent their creative direction, vision and timing for each scene thus giving you a proper understanding of exactly what the end product will look like. This then can be evaluated against the corporate vision and objectives you require.
I understand this flies in the face of current procedures but if the system is broken, then surely it’s never too late to mend it.