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5 Preparation Tips for Directing Your Next Commercial

Tanner Shinnick

A well-prepared director is a good director. Take a look at five useful tips for preparing to direct any commercial spot.

As a director, creatively preparing for your next commercial spot is one of the most important things you can do.


1. Acquaint Yourself with Your Client’s Business

5 Tips in Preparation for Directing Your Next Commercial — Acquaint Yourself with The Client

Know what your client needs.

Image via Gerain0812.

As a commercial director, your end client is businesses. Those businesses are utilizing your creative abilities to increase the amount of business they receive.

As a result, one of the first and most important things you can do as a director is to understand how your client makes money. Understanding how they make money makes certain that the creative you bring to the table aligns with their interest and business objectives. As important as how they make money is also who they make money from — their target demographic. Knowing your audience, as a director, is crucial.

The most tried and true method I’ve found to acquaint myself with a client is to take a deep dive into their company website. Through this, you can decipher how they operate, how they function, and who they’re trying to talk to.


2. Visit Their Social Media Accounts

I love visiting a client’s social media account(s). That includes Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and really anywhere they post their content. These resource gives you a quick overview of what their previous advertising efforts were and the general tone they’re trying to achieve for their brand. It also gives you the ability to quickly see their previous creative endeavors. Through this, you can get a clearer understanding of where they may want to go and where you may be able to take them, creatively.

Most importantly, visiting their social accounts ensures that you don’t pitch them an idea for something they’ve already tried in the past.


3. Make a Music Playlist

Music and commercials go hand-in-hand. Some of the best commercials that come to memory were driven by a notable musical track. Music can make or break any commercial.

For any spot I do, I make a playlist that reflects the mood and tone we’re trying to achieve for that spot. Then, I listen to that playlist while I’m doing any sort of prep for that shoot. This method helps put you in the correct mood and headspace, thus influencing the creative in the correct manner.


4. Reference Commercials

I love to pull from and watch as many reference commercials as possible. For every spot I create, I’m usually pulling ideas from five to seven other commercials that I liked. The best part is that these reference commercials can really help illustrate to your client the tone you’re trying to achieve. Most often, as visual creators, we can see an idea in our head before we ever put anything to paper. Reference commercials help to align your vision and the client’s.

Reference commercials or videos can be anything. You may find a totally unrelated spot, but like how they incorporated color into their commercial. Or, you may find a commercial where you liked how they utilized music to create a mood. It may even be a scene from a movie and you appreciated how they filmed it.

Reference commercials can be used in so many different ways, always inspiring and motivating directorial choices.


5. Find Inspiration in Photography

5 Tips in Preparation for Directing Your Next Commercial —

Commercial photography as inspiration.

Image by Gerain0812.

Photography is my favorite medium to pull ideas from. Photography has only one frame, while we (as filmmakers) have twenty-four frames per second. Everything has to be intentional with photography because you only have one opportunity to get your message, tone, and mood across. Seeing how a photographer is able to tell a similar story that you’re trying to achieve is ultra insightful. Photography typically motivates my mood, wardrobe, and locations for any spot I do.

Overall, it’s essential to take the necessary prep for directing a commercial. While each director may have their own creative process, I’ve found these tips vastly beneficial.


Top image by gnepphoto.

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