THE CRAFT REPORT: Production - Introduction

The last Campaign Screen Craft report uncovered the best unknown directors in the business. This time, however, we have taken a more in-depth look at the technical aspects of directing. Leading industry figures give their tips on dissecting showreels, we challenge creative directors' ability to identify talent and look at cliches in commercials.

Our last Craft report revealed top talent from around the world, and as such it proved provocative.

Those who featured in the lists were delighted, of course, while those who didn't generally responded with the usual "disgruntled from adland" letters. So we polled top creatives and directors and what came across clearly was their desire to learn more about how to judge talent and the skill and techniques used in producing commercials.

A common admission by creative teams is that they find it quite difficult to judge directors' reels. They are trained to focus on the idea yet, when it comes to reels, they are somehow supposed to look beyond it. It's a common problem, one that afflicts younger teams and experienced creative directors alike, as those involved in our Talent Spotting feature revealed.

WCRS's Leon Jaume was just one who admitted: "I can't help struggling to like a director when I dislike the idea. It's an important caveat as I try to step back and view the talent."

Walter Campbell of Campbell Doyle Dye, meanwhile, had a more practical problem: "To give these directors just 50 words each on their work is typical of the kind of casual abuse they'll experience every day in the business." Well, these guys had better just toughen up and get used to it.

The feature proves to be an interesting test of how easy, or otherwise, it is to spot the stars. And just to keep them on their toes, we concealed the identity and production company from each of the reviewers and threw a few red herrings.

We also look at how to judge the skills on reels beyond those of the director, considering other disciplines such as music, editing and lighting.

How, for example, can you tell the difference between a good director of photography and great telecine? Leading industry figures give us their top tips.

In this report, we have also added techniques to the mix and look at the perennial question of idea versus technique and, finally, we look at cliches in terms of both ideas and content, whether it's the "Crouching Client, Hidden Product" phenomenon, Traktor-casting or the ultimate cliche - the car commercial.

Incidentally, Goodby Silverstein & Partners has just launched its first ever car commercial and it is bound to revolutionise the category and win at all next year's awards shows.

You have been warned.

Get to see it first on this month's issue of Campaign Screen.

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