Pre-production is essentially all the production that occurs “pre”/before the actual production of a media product. For example, the pre-production for a TV advert is all the planning that takes place right up until the filming starts. This is important because it allows for a smooth filming process, and thus a perfect finished product.
Pre-production for a TV advert can involve everything from mood boards, storyboards and budget plans to the hiring of talent and equipment.
If the pre-production is poor, it’s difficult to manage expectations and this can lead to unnecessary compromises and a poor delivery that could have been avoided if the product had solid pre-production. If aspects of the preproduction are weak, such as the budget or schedule, the actual production of the product cannot take place.
For example, if the last of the budget for a product is spent on hiring a set space, the company cannot spend any further time or money on filming, and therefore they must stick to a schedule.
An example of poor preproduction for a filmed project is Alien 3. Before David Fincher became director, Renny Harlan and Vincent Ward, two directors, said no to the project and Twentieth Century Fox had invested $7 million into the pre-production and development of the film. Due to this investment, Twentieth Century Fox had to announce a release date for over a year after the original date before a screenplay could be finalised.
As a result of the expensive sets having already been constructed, the film had to evolve around it and thus determining a more or less concrete storyline.
Eventually Fincher began production but was unprepared to deal with the creative limitations, re-writing of the script and reshoots. He left the project before post production started.
A television advert is produced and paid for by an organization or company wanting to advertise a product.
If I wanted to advertise a new soft drink, I may take inspiration from a company such as Coca Cola. Coca Cola’s CEO has said that by 2016 they could be spending up to $1 billion on advertising their product, so I’d need quite a large budget to be able to match the competition.
Part of their budget has been spent on their three advertising agencies; Ogilvy New York, Madrid’s SRA Rushmore and Santo in Buenos, who all contribute their ideas to the initial campaign to imput content that will appeal to multiple cultures around the globe.
Similarly, I may choose one of Coca Cola’s agencies as they’ll be experienced in selling a soft drink successfully. Ogilvy New York have extended their company to the UK, so I may communicate with the UK branch to hire them to produce my advertisement.
In terms of a budget, hiring Ogilvy could take £130-£275 out of my budget per hour. I may also consider using a company such as Media Dog Hire to aid me in creating my advert.
At a weekly rate of £2500, for example, I could hire Media Dog’s “ARRI Alexa Shooting Kit with Arri Zeiss UltraPrimes T1.9” kit which contains all the equipment and resources I would need to create my advert such as high quality cameras, lighting and sound equipment.
Media Dog Hire also advertise that they’re able to find the right crew and personnel that would be suitable for creating my advert. This could include roles such a director, costume designers, lighting and cameramen and an SFX Supervisor for any special effects.
The Advertising Producers Association represents the interests of production companies, post-production and editing companies for TV advertisements. Their averages daily rates for these crew members are as follows:
Costume Designer: £420-£520
Lighting Cameraman: £721-£1,169
Camera operator: £396-£492
For the talent in my advert I would go to a talent agency such as William Morris Endeavor or The Artists Partnership. The average pay for one actor is a daily flat rate of £450.
To film in a public space I will need permission from the appropriate local authority or council as these are the people responsible for the land, buildings, roads and parking.
To use special effects such as explosives or to use props such as firearms, I will need to plan to film with the local police force and must co-operate fully with them. If my advert is to contain portrayed police officers or police vehicles, I will also need permission from the police.
I will also need to contact the police and the highway department of the local authority as they will need to make sure my plans are safe and don’t pose any threats to road users. A stunt coordinator must be involved if I plan any stunts in my filming.
I should inform the local police in writing of any planned filming.
The UK screen agencies can help me to contact the correct local authorities and local police forces if I need guidance.
Health and Safety
Certain laws and regulations must be followed in any field of work. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that a full risk assessment must be carried out before any work takes place.
Due to poor health and safety procedures in 1982, a tragedy involving the death of 3 people while filming “The Twilight Zone” occurred by a helicopter prop spinning out of control. Child labour laws were broken, and without a valid permit, filming took place in the middle of the night.
As an employer I would have to abide by the Employer Liability Act 1969 and provide insurance for each of my employers in a case of injury.
I would also have to take into account the rights of my employees. These rights include rest breaks and a clean working environment.
Copyrights and Confidentiality
I would also ask my crew to abide by the Confidentiality Act of 1991 to ensure the product was protected before its release.
To avoid issues with copyright, I would have to ask permission from the owners of any products that were not originally mine to be used in the advert. This could include music, photographs or literary works such as poems or articles. To overcome some of this I could use images from gettyimages.co.uk or alamy.com. They offer an option of purchasing a license from them in order to own the royalties to a multitude of images freely.
The Advertising Standards Authority (A.S.A.)
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regulates all advertisements in the UK and has the power to remove advertisements if there is a problem or complaint with them and they feel it necessary to take it down. For TV and radio advertising, the ASA regulate under a contract of Ofcom.
If complaints are made about my TV advert to Ofcom or the ASA, Ofcom investigates whether or not my advert is breaking their codes or regulations. They can resolve the problems by requesting I change certain aspects of my advert if necessary.
In 2007 the ASA received 216 complaints about a Rustlers Burger advert. The complaints claimed the advert was sexist and Rustlers appealed to the ASA explaining that they considered their humour would be unlikely to cause widespread offence. Instead of the ASA pulling down the advert, their final decision was that Rustlers must show their advert after Watershed at 9pm.
Production and Producing
Once the advert has been created, I could sell it to a Media Planner who will determine when best to allocate my airtime budget to maximise the return on investment and ensure that the planned campaign is delivered. The media buyer will air it at the right times on the right channels, moniter the value and delivery of the campaign on a regular (daily) basis and report regular updates back to me. The buyer will also have to make sure changes occur if necessary.
The advertisement can be broken down into two main costs; Creative and Media. Creative, referring to the making of the advert, and media, referring to the cost of placing it on a channel or channels.
Generally TV is bought and sold on a cost per thousand basis. Most broadcasters such as ITV or Channel 4 trade at a discount or premium depending on variables such as the time of day, length (of the advert), seasonality (summer can be cheaper than autumn, for example) or regionality (targeting more than one part of the UK will be more expensive than just one region).
To advertise my product at 11 o’clock in the morning on ITV, for example, It would cost me an average of £6,200 per day.