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Advert Production: Part 3 ‘The Shoot’

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.

So here we are. The big day – the day of the shoot.


Obviously, there’s a lot riding on this – and no matter how prepared you are, there are always things that can (and will!) go wrong. But, as we spoke about in the previous section, pre-production, as long as you are as prepared as possible, things will go to plan.


Clearance wise, we’re looking good. We’ve had the script and versions of the storyboard approved at various stages – so basically we’ve been told that what we’re about to film is fine to show on TV. That said, it doesn’t hurt to film alternative (or ‘safer’) versions of the script just in case! Another case of the all important preparation and planning coming into play. Another box to tick at this stage is ‘insurance’. Different shoots can require different protection policies, the finer details of which we wont bore you with here! In this instance we were shooting the Criminal Case ad in a studio so insurance policies were pretty straight forward thankfully.

You might remember from the last blog our last contact with the cast and crew was the call sheet that we sent out. This contained the directions to the location of the shoot, At this stage we would generally double check with the cast and crew that they’re clear on the the directions to the location of the shoot. Usually head production staff would take their own vehicles (often given a lift to other crew), Sparks and Gaffers (lighting/rigging) bringing equipment in their own vans, and cast coming via taxis to ensure a prompt start.

Cast and crew normally arrive in stages, and this shoot was no different. The head crew (Director, Production Co-ordinator) arrived first, along with the Production Manager. Most of the time, a Production Manager won’t be there on set for smaller productions such as this, but I thought it would be useful me being there. Following on from this comes the rest of the crew – they begin to set up lighting, camera and sound. Make-up and Wardrobe also arrive and begin to set up.

Last but by no means least, we have the Cast arrive. It should be noted – this is still a good hour/two hours before the camera is due to roll, to allow for any problems. The actors get into costume, and the costume designer will make tweaks if necessary. They then go to makeup. Meanwhile, the crew will have set up the first shot, and be testing it out. Often, a stand in will test the shot before the actors come in, to allow them more time to prepare.


And just like that, we’re ready to go. Lights, camera, action!


Crew work on advert production
Above: The shot is boarded

Every shoot will have a shot list to work through – a list of the shots (featured in the story board) that we need to get before wrapping for the day. This will mean multiple setups (Camera and lighting positions) and several takes. This ensures that when it comes to the final edit, there is enough material to work from.


Crew work on advert production
Above: …and the actors are ready!


And essentially – that’s the day. The Director is there to ensure that the shots we get match with the vision for the advert. He liaises carefully with the Director Of Photography (or DOP) to make sure what is being filmed is being done so from the best angles, etc. Hair and Makeup remain on set to keep actors looking the same way they did as we begun – and the 1st AD (Assistant Director) ensures we’re running to time.


It’s a careful balancing act – making the most of the cast and crew on the day, but not overshooting particular shots so don’t have to leave set without having shot everything we required.


Runners are on hand in case we need anything picked up (such as lunch!) and the client is sometimes there to watch the process, and offer constructive criticism. For Criminal Case, the clients were based in France – so we had a live camera feed hooked up so they could watch and advise.


In the meantime, the Data Wrangler is taking what we’ve shot and backing up several copies. Remember, a hard drive is cheaper than a day of reshoots! At least two copies normally leave set to different locations to ensure nothing is lost.


Once we’ve shot everything we need (and some we don’t), that’s a wrap! The crew breaks down the set, and depart as they’re not required any more.


It’s almost always a long day, but the results are worth it. The more planning and preparation goes into the shoot, the more smoothly it will run. Fortunately, we had no major issues and were able to head home eager to start the next step of the process.


Crew work on advert production
Above: Side note- it never hurts to have a production dog on set to help out