I’ve been producing and directing commercials for Sunrise Seagull Productions for the past 10 years, and I have to admit, finding the right location for this Chinese TV commercial is the toughest to date.
As you can see from the commercial above, it is for a beauty product so making it look good is crucial. We already booked experienced and good looking talents (including the super cute baby), secured an artistic DP and a reliable makeup artist, and got nice wardrobe for the talents. The only thing missing was finding the best location. We searched high and low for 4 weeks straight. Our project coordinator scrounged every corners of the OC and LA area and even went as far as the San Bernardino area to find the perfect house.
Well, it’s not that there isn’t a nice house in the areas that we searched. If you are involved in production long enough, you understand that there are always constraints. We had to find a beautiful house that is big enough to film all 5 settings and it has to look like they are all from different houses. Oh, and since we are an independent production company, the location’s fee had to be within our non-union budget. Put it another way, we had to find a very nice location with a shoestring budget.
So, why do we have to find such a nice location? The short answer is ‘production values’. With all things being equal, location is what will determine the “quality” of the commercials (or films, or whatever it is we’re producing.) We can use the most expensive camera or orchestrate the most complicated camera move and it will make no different if the locations look cheap. Also, if we can find a great location that has the looks that we like, we will spend less time and effort to dress or decorate the set and that in turn will save a lot of money for our client.
At times it seemed like an impossible task to allocate the right amount of time and budget for it. However, when we do, we see a clear difference in the final product. Our crew loves us for it since we produced a great looking commercial. Our client loves us for it since the high production values elevate their brand.
We believed that if we look hard enough, we will find anything. And we did. We found a 22M home in Malibu that fits everything on our checklist and it is within our budget (but not without some major negotiating.) We booked the place, spent 2 days filming there, and worked tirelessly for 1 week in post production. Our entire team are proud of the the final product and it is vindicated by these comments from our client:
“Thank for delivering this beautiful production.”
“I like it! I think it was shot very well and I like watching it a few times.”
“It looks good! Overall, nicely done.”
These make it worthwhile and that’s why we always strive to achieve the best results.
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