AD's 2

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

PPM – Pre Production Meeting

“Elementary, my dear Watson”, Sherlock Holmes”  - The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes , (1939) 


A PPM – Pre Production Meeting which exits in advertising is a meeting of the Client, (which includes the brand team), the agency (which includes creative and client servicing) and the production house (which is represented by the director and producer and rarely the DA as well) So what happens at a PPM? And when does a PPM happen? This meeting is organised so that all parties involved are happy with the direction the AD film or Campaign is headed. This meeting happens ideally a few days before the commercial is shot so that there is enough time in case changes are required to be made and checked before the film gets shot. Sometimes because of lack of time, (because of deadline or non availability of important people’s times) these meetings also happen the night before the shoot but those times it’s very difficult to make large changes.  There are also sometimes a Pre PPM which has the agency creative and the director meeting to see if the progress is being liked creatively. There are at time also 2 or more than 2 PPM held if the client wants to see the changes before the ad film goes on floor.      

So what gets discussed at the PPM, almost always it’s everything that you can think of. Only rarely the client is happy going over only a few things as he trusts the agency and the director to make the right decisions for the brand. The contents of a PPM are agency script and storyboard (if any), director’s treatment note, director’s storyboard, location options, references of costume, hair and makeup, art (set and props), style, look n feel, colour palette etc. computer graphics references (if there is any style or technique that needs clarification on) The cast, (along with options) the crew, and the schedule. Not all these are present always but depending on the ad they are included or not.

The PPM is presented with different materials depending mostly on what the director is used to and what is available. Most of the material are put together either on a word docket or power point slide presentation and sometimes it’s even prepared on photoshop. These are printed into dockets which are distributed at the PPM. These dockets also help the director in showing the rest of the crew what direction he is taking the film. For rest of the PPM different material is used if possible and as and where it is possible, some of which is explained below.

The agency script and storyboard are kept intact the way it was sent to the production house. As most of the times these have already been shared with the client.

The Directors Storyboard and treatment note includes his vision for the ad, while talking of the finer details that would be looked into and the style, look and feel or various parts of the ad are mentioned here. The treatment note mostly concentrates on what the director is bringing to the table, and what the main focus would be, casting, or style or look would be talked of more than the rest.

Location options are shown (if there are options) via pictures which were taken at a recce of the place, sometimes video is also shown to understand geography of a place especially if it’s complicated. If it’s a set then those references fall under art.

References play a big role here in the PPM as the director presents these to show what things would look and feel like. Most of the times images are used to show the references for each section. 
For ART there are miniature models of set that are carried to the meeting sometimes and also some key props are also presented as lots of times the physical prop is better to judge than images. There are also 3D images of the set showing what the set would look like in scale. Different level  drawings and as much as detail required is shown. There are also separate images shown sometimes for what the finish would look like. Sample of floor colour or texture or a colour chart for colour of walls is also show if these are critical. 
For COSTUMES besides the design drawn there are material pieces and colour choices shown if possible, sometimes the entire outfit is also presented if it’s ready by the PPM. This happens when the costume plays a very important part of the story. There are times when pictures of costume fittings / trials are also presented. HAIR n MAKE UP gets a mention and style is stressed upon if it plays a key role. If it is a character look then sometimes pictures of the style or a test is done and presented to the client as to what the final look would be like. This mostly happens in skin or hair products.
LOOK n FEEL,  COLOUR PALETTE and STYLE are mostly included in the directors treatment note, but sometimes there are images which are presented which helps the director explain what he is looking at to take the film towards. Sometimes it’s just part of the image that might be of interest and therefore an explanation along with it is a must.
CG references are shown if a explanation of how the film is to be shot is shown, this is done as most of the time during a VFX heavy film only the director and the VFX specialist along with a few of the crew understand what’s going on. CG also gets shown for product window sections where it at the most used to display the clients main product. It’s good to have this plan cleared at this stage as that helps in saving precious time and heading in the right direction.

The Cast is presented by DVD’s, CD’s and even though a DV camera connected to a TV. These are mostly auditions of the cast done by a casting director or rarely work done by the actor if they are not available for the audition (in case the director really feels that this actor would work for the film). Images of the cast are also show sometimes to show what they look like in makeup. Sometimes only the main cast is presented and rest are left to the agency and production house to choose. (mostly done when there are a lot of characters to the film)

Lastly as a formality the key crew is listed out, this mostly happens when a specialised person has been hired to do a specific purpose. Like a hair stylist from abroad or a recognised DP etc. The schedule gets a mention so that deadlines can be clear and people can keep themselves free on dates for presentations. 

On a average PPM’s last for 2 – 3 hours there are times when they do get over much faster if all are happy with the approach and can get longer if debates break out on any topic. So sometimes these discussions are solved by having another PPM at a later date with the changes made. Depending on situation to client the more different kind of materials used could impress and in certain cases the least amount used can also be impressive. There are sometime details are held back like CG in PPM’s as its better to have finished the job and shown what it would look like than trying to explain and losing out a good idea at a discussion stage. The presentation material should definitely have clients name, product name, project, agency, production house names mentioned somewhere on the presentation (mostly at the beginning).

There is also another pre meeting which in cases is also called a PPM. This involves all the crew who meet up for before shoot. This PPM involves all departments (ideally) at the same time so that the director can brief all in one go and discussions between all happens in one go. Details of this kind of meeting I shall elaborate on later. 

Auggieism:- What do you call a lazy  Auggie who delays his work... . 
Ans:- Slaggie..

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Digital v/s Film

Came across a interesting site so thought I would share it with people who are interested in the camera field.
The test results make good learning not just for DP's but for others as well as it might help them chooses the course that want to take their projects in. There are tests done and results compared between film and the current digital cameras.
Following is the link to the site where there are 3 episodes of the tests done in 2010 -


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Friday, July 2, 2010

Wanna be a..... Director

“This isn’t personal, Kay. This is business”, Michael Corleone - The Godfather , (1972)

Wanna be a..... Director

Want be part of the glamour but don’t know what to do.? Can’t make up your mind if you want to be a Director or a Cinematographer or a Music Director... read on as I give you an insight which no film school will ever tell you. This blog is on if you Wanna be Director.  Most of this is based on my experience in India and figures would vary as time passes.

POST: Director


A Director is the leader of the project mainly in terms of vision and direction. He is responsible for decision making and it’s his style and effort that shows in the end. He is responsible for the acting, style of shoot, the technical direction etc. The director is the one who takes it from the story to the screen, he also participates in choosing the team, at least that of the key crew,(mainly the head of the departments) also the cast gets finalised only after the director’s approval. He has meetings with head of almost all departments before the film goes into production and also has rehearsals with the actors sometimes (if time is available) He uses scripts, storyboards, references when meeting with these departments to show and explain to the team what he feels the film should look and feel like.
Lots of time the director becomes or feels like an answering machine. A yes or no, eg, when costumes come back after the briefing with references then it’s the director who says yes or no to colours, material and so on and so forth. Same goes with all other departments. The director has also to work with the post team, influencing the grade of the film, with the editor to check for cuts and the flow of the story etc.


Anyone with a vision can become a director, there are people who become directors based on experience, some on qualification, and some just by the influence they bring. 
Experience can be gained by working closely with good and bad directors, working with different people show you different styles of working, also different production houses also function differently, so it helps in choosing a way that suits your style and also one that is right for production. 
For people who are new to the industry and wants to be part of it, there are various courses that one could take up  to learn the art. These days one can graduate with a BMM degree – Bachelors in Mass Media, this is a 3 year course and teaches you the basics of all media related industries including journalism, market research. Although this course does not prepare you for direction, it gives you a overall about media. There are also government run institutes like the F.T.I.I. - and private ones that offer specialised and general courses for those who have already done their graduation. One could also choose from courses abroad like 

You could also check these site’s out which has a list of schools from across the world

The way to choose the best schools to learn is check the course duration, the syllabus, topics covered, the teachers, their real life experience with film making, what are the practical’s the course offers, the library, and of course the fees, if one is leaving their country then place to stay and those expenses of upkeep also have to be kept in mind while choosing what’s best for you.  
If you trying to get through this industry then you better hope that you come from  a family with a lot of influence in the industry or are just plain rich to finance your ventures.


Depending on experience and how quickly he can make decisions the time spent by directors at work may vary. During the shooting phase the director almost always is there from the start to end. (except during pre light) the time and effort of Pre and post varies. 

Documentary directors = since a lot of research goes into documentary’s lots of time the research time is the same as shoot as usually the documentaries is made up of findings and interviews which are usually shot at the first attempt. In other words the amount of time spent would be equal to the passion towards the subject.  

Daily soap / Serials = minimum time few hours a day ranging from 2-6 hours during the planning days, and during shoot depending of the availability of actors and locations the time on shoot days are the normal one and half shift, to even 2 shifts sometimes.  

News (non news episodes) / Mtv kind of serials (where the director and producer are the same person) = usually full days ranging from 8 – 12 hours or even more, most f the times these are hired employees so office timings would apply,  the shoot timings are generally ranging from one shift to 2 shifts.

Promos and Advertising = depending on the team provided and the quickness at which the director takes decisions’ time spent could be ranging from 8 – 12 hours to sometimes even 20 hours if things don’t fall in place in pre (especially just before PPM’s and shoot days). During shoot which usually lasts 2- 4 days generally, it’s a similar one and half to 2 shifts.

Features = depending on the time spent in Pre production the director would give that much of time per day. Since pre in feature films usually take months the director usually doesn’t need to kill himself at office every day, time spent could be ranging from 2-4 hours on a average to 6-8 hours on some days. Most of these are time spent in meetings. Shoot lasts sometimes for months, and mostly its the standard one and half shift per day.


Documentary Directors – depending on if it is commissioned or if it is being done out of passion one could make nothing to a few thousands. Documentary’s are rarely very profitable monetarily at least. The commissioned ones, at least some of them do make a decent amount.

Daily soap / Serials – directors here get paid per episode usually, though some do get monthly salaries. Money ranges from 10,000 Rs per episode to 25,000 Rs per episode could go up to 80k approximately which is mostly for weeklies. So on a average it could range between 40k – 80K for beginners to 80K – 4lacks per month as experience increases.

News / Mtv kind of serials – here the amount of money the director makes is in the hands of the director himself, especially if he is a freelancer and not on pay roll. What generally happens is a budget is given to the director and the amount he saves is up to the way he plans and makes deals with the crew they are hiring.

Promos and Advertising – the money made here depends on the deal made with the producer, the two ways are the director chargers a fee for the project (usually when the director is a freelancer or a beginner) or a percentage of the profit. In the first case a director could make 1 to 2 lacks per day of shoot or a higher deal as agreed between him and the producers. Sometimes the deal also works in percentages of total budget, 2% - 15% of the figure usually.  As far as percentages go a beginner could make anywhere between 10% - 15% and this could go up to 60% - 80% as experience and demand goes up.  

Features – experience plays a huge role in the figure that a director makes. A first time director could make 5- 9 lacks for the film and as experience and hits come his way the figures could go up and there is no end figure that one could say he could make.


The director is the captain of the ship and all are the crew that get hired to work for him. The immediate people who report to him is the direction team which is made up of DA’s and AD’s. The DA – Director’s Assistant sometimes also doubles up as a assistant director, and the number of assistants hired depends on the budget so ranging from 2 – even 7 and 8. The rest of the crew are Production and their team, line prouder and his local team, DOP and his team, camera, lights, grips, gaffer, special equipment like crane or a Milo, costume’s, hair and make, stunts team, VFX team, transport, caterers, food stylists, and the list goes on and on. The hiring of these are obviously based on requirement.

So now that you know what it is about being a director you can decide if you want to be one or specialise in some other department. Remember a director like any sportsperson is only as good as his last film, so if you have the talent for it I would say go for it and all the best.

Auggieism:- What do you call a loyal Auggie... . 
Ans:- Doggie..

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