Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The magic of television.

          Want to create a TV commercial where a football team you're watching on television comes out of the set and smashes through a wall into your dining room? Don't worry --- it can be done. In fact, we did it.

          Whenever I work on a television commercial, I have to think about costs, but not so much about whether it can be done. My friend Ross, a brilliant art director, taught me that. Whenever I asked him how we could do that, his answer would be "the magic of television". And when clients asked the same thing, that's what we'd tell them.

           The football-players-in-the-dining-room commercial I described was for a video game. The client said pull out all the stops. The commercial required a lot of the magic of television, plus three specially-constructed walls (two for re-takes). We shot and edited it in San Francisco with one of the best directors in the business.

           And it was anything but cheap.

           Another time, Ross and I wanted to do a commercial where a man get hits repeatedly with custard pies. In the spot, they were symbolizing the unexpected problems we face every day. Ross found an ex-Hollywood engineer in New Mexico, who built a special rig for us --- a pie-throwing machine!

           I'm telling you this because I don't want anything to inhibit your creativity. At least at the early stages, before the cost estimates come in.

          Thanks to the magic of television, cars have hung on museum walls, mayhem falls from the sky, and fountains of color paint whole neighborhoods. There is a caution here, however. Your commercials should start with ideas, not pyrotechnics.  Football players coming to life in your home is great for a football video game, but not just for the fun of seeing it happen.

         A lot of bad commercials start with the magic, instead of sprinkling it on later.

        And those are the biggest wastes of money there is.


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