Behind the Scenes: Filming a TV Commercial
Growing up, I used to interview my stuffed animals and record them, pretending that I was a cross between hard-hitting Walter Cronkite and bubbly Ellen Degeneres. In my mind, TV production was all glamour. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to assist on a commercial shoot with my fellow Villing & Company intern Cherokee Hubbard.
While there, I assisted the creative directors with the camera and generally helped out with random tasks that popped up when shooting a commercial. While I had been briefed on how we would go about shooting, there were several things I learned about TV production that I didn’t anticipate.
First, you have to be willing to do anything to get the shot you need – whether it’s laying on your belly on a soggy golf course to hold an umbrella over the camera, or shooting the same scene multiple times to get it just right. Villing & Company’s video specialist Brad Rosier, who I worked with on this shoot, has some great insights into what’s needed to tell a quality story through video. For a 30 second commercial, we spent about four and a half hours getting the shots we needed.
I also learned that outside factors can make or break your shot. For example, if you’re shooting outdoors, weather is an issue. We didn’t anticipate having to set up a shot in a different way to Photoshop out the dreary sky later, but we made it work. Shooting in adverse conditions forces you to innovate and think outside the box.
Finally, I realized that shooting footage for a commercial is more exciting than I ever imagined. You’re on the spot, working as a team to find a unique, intriguing way to expose your client’s story. Not only that, but I was able to meet two famous astronauts, Gene Cernan, the last man to set foot on the moon, and Jerry Ross, who holds the record for most space flights.
My biggest takeaway is this: if you’re interested in something, invest time and effort into the project. Throw yourself into the work and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty (or your clothes a little wet). Taking the easy way out is guaranteed to create a lackluster effect for your audience. You’re looking to inspire and entice the audience to engage. If you put in the effort, you can have an out-of-this-world experience. I definitely did.
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