by Jeremy Warshaw
About 3 days before most shoots take place I lose my producer. And in turn all the other serious, hard working production folks around the office go missing; I can’t find the production manager, her coordinator and you can forget about all the PAs.
I mean they’re still physically in the same zip code but their brains have been taken over by ‘the system’ and they are now committed to a radically different kind of production that has the square root of bugger all to do with the commercial we are about to shoot.
These tightly-torqued production folks are in fact working relentlessly and against the clock to produce the all important
Pre-Pro book. And when finally it is finished, bound and caressed into shape, another 15 copies of this classic will have to be replicated. (Like most classics this book will never be read cover to cover.) But let’s agree it’s a beautiful thing. First, you’ve got some lovingly created Client logo that adorns the front of the binder and that only the PM has the skills to execute, and my favorite, the pretty tabs with colorful numbers on them which have been 3 hole punched into submission. And we haven’t even got to the vital content inside. Here there are various photographs and images that have been formatted into the body of the beast, as well as pages galore that list the caterer, the colorist and the absent creative director, plus the address of the agency, the map to the stage and the approved script that is going to be read word for word including video directions. Oy!
Can you imagine the weight of all the paper from 15 pre-pro books, printer inks, and trips to Staples. And what about the (wo)man-hours involved in all the copying, formatting, late phone calls with additional revisions, blah blah blah. And now multiply all this by all the shoots you do and then by all the shoots your company does…well you get my point.
It’s kind of ridiculous and strikes me as a monumental waste of energy and resources that maybe, just maybe, it's symbolic of the way we produce commercials right now. We are operating as if we are unaware of shrinking margins, the earth’s precious resources and the declining impact of the 30-second spot. (This order can be re-arranged to suit your priorities.)
I can’t help feeling that the Client is sitting there at the pre-production meeting and this thought bubble comes over his head “Oh this is why I am paying $175,000 per shooting day when my cousin Ira’s wedding video cost $4,000 including the editing. Duh, Ira never got a pre-pro book.”
Am I alone in thinking that it’s time to change this practice? Let me throw out at least a transitional idea so as not to shock the system too much. Why doesn’t the production company email all relevant content to everyone (and their wife) and then we’ll all turn up to the pre-pro meeting, open our laptops and gaze at the screen while we run through all we need to understand.
If this really were to happen, we could all feel justifiably smug knowing that we’re doing our part to be more green. And in turn we could feel even more special as we set about our God given task to increase consumption of various goods and services.