“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... .