Producing and managing creative shoots is quite literally all in a day’s work for the Punch creative team; from capturing high-end fashion stills in the studio to filming a Facebook Live Q&A at an international business conference.
The success of a shoot hinges on many factors – the quality of the ideas, the breadth and depth of pre-production and of course, the complexity of the creative. Reconnaissance, test shoots and rehearsals do a brilliant job of ironing out teething problems in the pre-production phase, but on occasion a shoot can present one or several challenges that have the potential to throw everything off-track – from bad weather and faulty equipment to nervous presenters and broken props.
As creative experts and project planners, it is our job to scenario-plan and anticipate these challenges before they happen. But what truly makes the difference between failure and success when it comes to unpredictable mishaps?
We create a back-up plan for every job we commission. And then we create a back-up plan for the back-up plan. Sometimes this isn’t necessary, but it certainly helps us sleep at night – especially for the international shoots with a thousand moving parts.
A producer will not only need to keep an eye on output, but also monitor for threats to production, especially in the case of live broadcast. Anticipating a disaster is much better than blindly allowing it to crush production, so super-fast reactions are key.
Standing in the shadows of every shoot is a reliable and trustworthy runner who is willing to chip in and help with all manner of tasks to produce the finished result. These are often the jobs that are neither comfortable nor fun; just ask the account exec who once crouched for half an hour under a table with a light reflector in just the right place, or the designer who hauled and dragged a 25kg spares box on the Barcelona metro because the crew transport didn’t turn up!
Persuasion and Barefaced Cheek
Sometimes, we have to put ourselves out there – and then some – to get the job done. This might mean having to approach strangers on a busy London street for a Vox Pop piece, or haggle our way to having just the right variety of leavened flatbread on a food job. There’s an unstoppable, unshakeable and unrelenting energy to our approach that’s infectious within the team – and all those that end up coming along for the ride.
A shoot is no place for getting defensive over ideas. Opening up and being honest with ourselves and our clients when something just isn’t working is a huge part of a successful shoot. Knowing when something’s not right and working together to forge an alternative shot has been key to some of our greatest work.
A hungry and dehydrated crew is a recipe for lethargy, missed attention to detail, and poor concentration. Keeping the whole crew fueled throughout the shoot inevitably reaps rewards on the finished product – especially on long shoots with demanding travel schedules. Feeding and watering our cameraman before he becomes hangry stops us from all manner of shortcomings on the day.
It may be painstaking and often exhausting, but we don’t go home until the job is perfect; often better than perfect, in fact – just in case the former version wasn’t quite right, or a different colour might be worthy of a try, or if that corner of burnt crust looks terrible on the monitor and we need to cook it all over again…
Therefore, a truly successful shoot, in truth, isn’t at all reliant on a bunch of closely-guarded secrets. Rather, it is a slick assemblage of exceptional planning, endurance and experience. And an insatiable drive to do the very best we possibly can, always.