Can Feature Directors Coexist with the Commercial World?: How to Work with Filmmakers in the Ad-Verse

Rhea Scott takes a break from her workload to lend a few commercial production tips..

Written By Rhea Scott, founder and EP of production company Little Minx.

Remind Agencies that Feature Film Directors Can Also Do Commercials

Agencies generally worry about a feature director’s ability to work within thirty seconds, and that’s always seemed silly to me. To silence these fears, I work the European way, packaging jobs with post production teams whenever possible. We share an office with some world class editors that I collaborate with often. Their portfolios and notoriety reliably soothe any concerns an agency might have.

  • Directors’ Connections Are Valuable in Two Directions

Film directors are changing the landscape of advertising, adding everything from narrative ability and exposure to talent and crew that ad creatives wouldn’t have worked with otherwise. The connections name directors can bring to a project are precious. Little Minx recently worked on a branded piece with a director who, with just one call, was able to rally acclaimed writers and an A-list actress that would have most likely passed otherwise.

Feature directors’ access to top talent is a great asset, but their visibility can also attract collaborations that supplement their lack of experience outside their specializations. When working on a project with Oscar winning animators for a video game trailer, I knew they would need additional support from a top-notch live action crew. The animators’ prestige helped attract extraordinary talent to fill in the blanks and culminated in a team so talented that no agency or client could say no to.

  • Why You Should Fund Your Director’s Ideas

If you believe in your director’s ideas, fund them. Sock away money so you can do special projects with a scope worthy of your director’s ambition. It can be frustrating when they aren’t given the proper platform in the commercial space to exercise their creativity, so facilitate passion projects that will snowball into more attention from the advertising and film industries. We’ve done this for a number of our directors whose work then won awards and graced top film festivals. Don’t wait for funding, just find a way. Find a crew who supports your vision and go for it without committee. If the work is truly great, the crew will follow regardless of budget or other obstacles. These projects eventually become centerpieces of a production company’s cache and their success brings in more work than the average, well executed commercial. Plus, regardless of the critical reception, you will own valuable new content.

  • Find Skilled Directors Who Can Handle the Entire Process, Step by Step

As we are shifting from the thirty second format to more long-form branded content, hybrid directors have stronger voices and the production companies that sign them have become more relevant. Look for directors that can do more than just shoot. Find talent than can do their own writing, editing, color correction and still photography. Agencies are looking for all encompassing solutions and these full capability directors are in increasingly high demand. My peers at much larger commercial production companies can attest that the amount of jobs flowing in for just shooting is dwindling.

  • One Final Lesson: Show, Don’t Tell

A good friend of mine once referred me to a saying from his native Nigeria: “Keep the spirit inside the calabash [bottle]. If you open it too much, the aroma will escape. So don’t talk about it, do it!” I try to stick to this as often as possible. Although I’m dying to tell everyone about our upcoming projects, it’s better to focus that spirit on their flawless execution. Showing is always better than telling, and too much telling can rob a brilliant idea of its aroma, making it stale.