FINAL JEOPARDY PART 2: Questions you need to ask about TVC Production

By - CTL
May 30, 2017

By Marcus Honesta.

Last week, we compiled a handy list of Questions You Should Know The Answer To with regards to a TV commercial production. We know that you enjoyed the quiz, so this week we bring you another…Questions You Need To Ask about TVC Production!

Are you ready? Then off we go…


TV commercials are the public face of a company and the brands they produce.

Therefore the highest possible (affordable) production values and performances should be insisted upon.

Ultimately, it is the brand team that is held responsible for a commercial’s quality and performance not the agency. It would be difficult, if not impossible to fairly hold some one accountable for the end product if they are taken out of the equation at the most critical part of the production, the shoot.

Properly administered PPM’s (Pre Production Meetings) are essential and will address many of the things that can and do go wrong on shoots. BUT this will change on set, you can bet on it.

However client attendance on the day(s) ensures their concerns are addressed and dealt with in accordance with their company’s expectations. Ownership of this process I believe is a key factor in pushing a brand team to achieve greater heights. (Oh and shoots can be fun and team building).


Ultimately, for the communications business to grow and develop it needs well-rounded and experienced marketers. This includes understanding television production, which I believe cannot be achieved by reading a book or attending seminars. What’s needed is real hands on experience of the production process. This will foster growth and development. Attendance at the shoot provides the exposure necessary to know how and where
so much money is spent, money for which Brand teams are accountable.

TVC production shoots are often unpredictable. Attending them gives the younger and less experienced an opportunity to grow, learn and develop and eventually add value to the process.

To a lesser point but still important, I believe TVC’S are the fun and most exciting part of the marketing mix. Following the ad map through the briefing process, script development, storyboarding, the PPM, the shoot, the post- production and the final result is challenging and satisfying.

Additionally, you cannot expect people to take responsibility for the end product if you remove them from the process at such a vital stage.


There are a number of set rules that go into answering this difficult question.

First is the 48- hour deadline. You have 48 hours before the 1st principal day of photography to cancel/ post-pone a shoot due to weather. This 48hrs does not include weekends.

Be aware that cancellations can cost money in art department, crew wages and location fees.

The truth of the matter is that it is rare that the weather is so bad that nothing can be achieved.

With today’s technology we can replace the sky and add shadows and reflections in post. Literally the sky is not the limit.

Here is an example you might like to consider.

A one day shoot with full crew for arguments sake costs – $110,000


Additional post-production costs for six sky replacements – $30,000

Additional frame time to clean up shots – $23,400

Extra image grading time – $8,000

An additional total cost of $61,400

No one likes or wants weather days especially if they occur outside the industries accepted practices and the client is responsible.

Having said this, your agency should have experienced producers who can offer advice as to the availability of crew and the notice required to cancel them without incurring additional costs. They should be in constant contact with their client assisting and advising them of all the options.

The only other thing to add is that if you have to move shoot dates, you may not be able to secure the same crew or indeed Director of choice. I advise you to be as flexible as you can be and your media commitments allow.


In times gone by, when we shot on film, ‘rushes’ was the term used to describe the processed film footage that would be delivered to the editor to cut.

These days it refers to the digital hard drives where the shot footage is stored. The result is much the same, only the medium has changed.

Be aware the Digital capture format is sometime unreliable. I have had a hard drive fail and had to reshoot an entire programme. We tried everything to get it repaired/rebuilt but to no avail.

Most storage facilities will not gurantee digital material longer than 18-24 months so back up is vital.


This is by far the most difficult question to address and there is not one simple answer.

If the weather prevents a shoot from being completed in the time quoted, then the client should pay.

If the director, in a fit of creative peak, decides to shoot additional shots that were not signed off at pre-production meeting, then without question the production house / agency is responsible for these additional changes.

If you like and agree to the shots then the cost should be split 50/50.

If the director is just slow and indecisive then the production company should pay.

Equally, if the director is having trouble getting a satisfactory performance from the talent then he should be responsible. The only exception is if you are working with children (very young ones from 3 months to 5 years) then some compromise should be agreed on. Just a tip, mitigation of risk is always best ie if you are booking young children then look for twins, if one throws a hissy fit, perhaps the other might be all right.




One thought on “FINAL JEOPARDY PART 2: Questions you need to ask about TVC Production

  1. PPMs are by and large useless unless they are at least a complete day out from the shoot day. Preferably 2. As there is often precious little that can be done by the next day if there has been a breakdown in communication a change of plan, a script change, a major casting choice switch or as is usually the case a dead reckoning of both the script length and the budget. At the very least they should be early in the morning prior to the shoot (and wardrobe, hair and makeup tests and checks should have already been completed prior to this meeting.) This is about re-arriming the objectives of the shoot and should not be an opportunity for one of the junketeers to unpick the whole idea at the expense of people who can not hide in a cubical when the project fails miserably as people who make spots have all their work on display. If the final PPM has to happen the day before – schedule it from 7am until 10 tell them it will give them at least ten minutes to discuss every shot! It will go longer – but don’t let them leave for lunch. Get the Clients and agency used to making decisions in the morning. And being held accountable for their decisions just as every on in the shoot will be ans and always is. You need the afternoon to allow at least some time for the department heads to delegate any changes in while they visit their therapists and divorce lawyers. For the most part PPM’s are a complete waste of time – with everyone on the client and agency side ‘wanting to have a say’ and inane second guessing of terms like depth of field, subliminal and more than 75% of people using the term Zoom OR saying “ZOOM in on” (even when their is zero chance of any zooms as it is all being shot on fixed prime lenses.) The group decisions bring about the worst possible coverage concepts and an over use of extra close ups and destroy any hope the audience may be interested in watching whatever turgid crap they are spending money on attempting to promote.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Email and Name is required.