How do you budget a production? What, come to think of it, actually is the difference between Flame and Smoke? And, please, will somebody tell me – what the flip is an EDL?
Whether you’re looking to make a sumptuous TV spot or a nippy little piece of content for an interactive installation, filmmaking is an integral part of advertising. That being said, the production process can seem an unspeakably complex bit of alchemy with an equally unspeakable vocabulary of impenetrable jargon and acronyms. It’s not uncommon for busy accounts bodies, creative or clients to feel intimidated by production and unconfident in their abilities to collaborate effectively with the producers and post houses who give life to the agency’s ideas.
That’s why this week Little Black Book opened the doors to the first ever LBB Academy. Accounts, creative and production departments from Brothers and Sisters, JWT, DLKW Lowe, Ogilvy, Euro RSCG, McCann, G2 Joshua, RCKR/Y&R and Unilever sent over a selection of willing students to peer behind the curtain.
Interactivity was the watchword of the two-day event as the class were given the chance to put all those niggling doubts to rest. According to LBB founder Matt Cooper there were two principles underpinning the workshop. First off, knowledge is power and when agencies and clients have greater understanding of the production process the more likely we are to see effective, efficient collaboration. And the second principle? If there’s anything you don’t understand – just ask.
“Our first LBB Academy event was a real success,” he said. “The concept of the event was to help creative, account people and TV producers learn about the production and post production process in some depth, and to find out what each different talent really does and to learn a bit about costs. The underlining theme of the event was the importance of collaboration throughout the ad making process.”
Day one saw the class ensconced in Soho House with Great Guns’ Jeremy McWilliams, who ran a session bearing the intriguing titles ‘Eating A London Bus’. Thankfully no public transport was ingested – but McWilliams worked with the class to examine just how a producer breaks a script down into manageable chunks. As well as covering everything from PIBS to the perils of producing in countries with a rather lackadaisical approach to health and safety, he also shared a rather handy guide to budgeting a commercial. Who knew that unscheduled night time shoots on a Saturday night could be quite so pricey?
“Jeremy was so down-to-earth and happy to answer questions. It made what was quite a closed and mysterious process much more accessible. As an account man, budgeting was very useful – the ability to look at a script and budget and exercise judgement rather than just pressing forward to the client,” commented Cressida Holmes-Smith, an account manager at Ogilvy & Mather.
And it seems that Jeremy enjoyed the session just as much. “The hunger for knowledge is wonderful to see. Hopefully it has lit a fire inside students, a passion for the science of film-making and an understanding that everyone plays their part, no matter how far away from the director you are,” he said.
That afternoon continued with a bit of attack, sustain, decay, release, as the Academy covered all things musical. Nick Payne from The Works and Simon Elms from Eclectic teamed up to share how to go about making the most of your sound track.
Day 2 was all about getting our hands on and heads around the post process. Rushes hosted as groups were taken around CG, Flame and telecine suites and given a chance to quiz leading compositors and colourists while watching them work their magic.
After a barbecue on the Rushes roof terrace, the team trouped across to Marshall Street editors to get their head around the cutting ‘n’ pasting of the offline edit.
“Marshall Street Editors were extremely helpful in presenting the offline work flow,” noted DLKW Lowe Graduate Account Exec Sam Hardy. “The importance of communication between agency, client and post was stressed a lot over the two days and this is advice that I will take under my wing in the future.”
And while the event was a great chance for agencies to learn, it turns out it was pretty educational for the speakers too, who were bombarded with all manner of unexpected, incisive questions. According to Rushes’ Head of Production Anthony McCaffery the experience of shepherding the gaggle of inquisitive execs round the post house was a welcome eye-opener.
“It was an exciting opportunity to meet with clients from various backgrounds and degrees of experience,” he said. “It’s not often that everyone is able to take the time to stop and learn about the advantages and challenges of post production and the production process. For us it’s also really helpful to understand better some of the issues facing agencies, their clients, and how we can all potentially collaborate better. Appreciating each other’s knowledge and communicating early in the process can help ensure the creative process runs smoothly and the best results for all involved!”
A MASSIVE thanks to all the sponsors who made the LBB Academy possible - LIA, Adstream, Great Guns, Marshall Street, The Works, Eclectic Music, Rushes. The next Academy will be announced shortly - with plans afoot for more Academies in London, New York, Sydney and beyond. To register your interest, please contact Matt@lbbonline.com.