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Advert production: Part 2 ‘pre-production’

One of the aspects of what we do here at Pace that excites us the most is the advert production end of things. It’s when we get to let our creative juices run wild and help our clients see their product or service come to life on the small screen.

So we’ve asked our Production department to give us a rundown of what it takes to make stand out TV ad. If you think we can help you in bringing your idea to reality get in touch HERE or call us on 020 3567 1096.

Part 2 – Pre-production.

So if you remember where we left off last time, we had an advert concept signed off and ready to get made. But it’s not as simple as just rolling the cameras – there are a lot of things that need to be arranged before we get filming. This is known as pre-production, and I would argue it is the most important part of the process.
So what does pre-produciton entail? In short, organisation.

A LOT of organisation.


In our experience the key to success is ‘planning’. Planning helps to ensure that nothing is left to chance. Of course, sometimes things will go wrong, and there’s just no way of anticipating them, but we like to ensure that no matter whatever happens, we’re always moving forward in line with our plan. With so much to plan for, it’s very easy to let something slip through the cracks – by planning ahead you can prevent this. So scheduling each task that needs completing prior to the shoot helps to keep everyone (the production team and the client) in the loop and aware of when each step will be completed.

For the Criminal Case shoot, we brought on a Production Supervisor to assist the Production Manager in preparing for the shoot. They shared the list of tasks and divided things up based on areas of expertise. On bigger shoots, it’s not uncommon to have more people working on this, further delegating tasks to department heads.

We like to make sure the client is kept well informed. And one of the benefits of having a schedule is that it allows you to arrange ‘sign off’ dates for each task. We arrange a designated period of time for a client to approve something before moving forward with it. Whilst this can be restrictive in some ways, we find that involving the client as much as possible is better for everyone in the long run. While waiting for sign off you can still plan other areas of the shoot that aren’t affected by the wait.


One of the key stages in Pre-Production is legal clearance. Without this, an advert cannot run on UK TV, so it is important to seek advice on what is, or is not acceptable as early as possible. This is done by Clearcast – the regulatory body for advertising clearance in the UK. Without the advert concept and script being cleared for UK TV, there would be not much point in pressing on with the shoot! This involved a bit of back and forth and demonstrating the concept was not too violent to achieve the daytime rating we were after. Once we knew that they were happy with things so far, we could move on with casting.


We can see the benefits of this type of ‘planning’ and ‘sign offs’ in the Criminal Case production. We had a concept signed off but without a mutual understanding of how the final advert would end up looking, the Production Company and the client could assume we’re making totally different ads. So to bring everyone onto the same page, we had the concept storyboarded. With this the client got to see a ‘rough’ version of the advert to approve, before we began working on things that might not make the final cut. They could suggest tweaks, and we could show them how this would work. Or, if there was something that was difficult to achieve, we would suggest a way around it to create something we were both happy with.



Our storyboard artist produced a set of images of how the advert would play out. We took these, and gave them some basic animation using specialist software. The result was a crude animation, but thorough enough to give everyone a mutual understanding of what we aiming for.

Final details

A few tweaks were suggested on both ends, but within a few days, we had agreements from everyone. Now, we could move forward with the next stages, which involved graphic design work, holding casting calls to find the actors, finding crew members, booking the studio and any additional equipment, including the camera and sound gear.
Next, we needed to find right actors who looked the part. We put out a call through a few agencies and send some emails, and began to get a variety of candidates come in. We set an audition date and arranged times.

We had a great variety of actors and actresses apply to audition, and from these we created a shortlist to send to the client of who, in our opinion, suited the part best. Once they had confirmed their mutual availability, we had a shoot date!

We were at last able to firm everything up; the crew, the equipment, the location and our costume designer could now buy the outfits.
The Plan was now in place which left one final thing, the call sheet. This is arguably the most important part of the pre-production process – it’s a simple but essential document that lists all the details for the shoot, from the location, to contacts details for everyone involved, to the time lunch is! And just like that, it’s time for the shoot! Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together!

To find out how we approach ‘the shoot’ check back with us next week but in the mean time you can check out more of our work HERE and if you think we can help you in bringing your idea to reality get in touch HERE or call us on 020 3567 1096.