Tuesday, December 2, 2008

5 things about "Down and Dirty" shoots

These type of shoots have a few names that people call them: down and dirty shoots, guerrilla shoots, no time shoot.. etc. Whatever you refer to them as, normally these types of shoots/projects mean a few things: little money, little time, and big quality.

Here are my 5 likes and dis-likes (strictly in my opinion as an art buyer).

1. Think on your toes. While sometimes the production can keep you guessing (or confused) it proves what a good problem-solver you can be. I think it's also an adrenaline rush to get it all pulled together as quickly as possible.

2. The teamwork and collaboration. I have found that even more so on these types of jobs the teamwork and collaboration between the art director/designer, art buyer, photographer, rep and virtually everyone else working on the job really come together to make it happen.

3. Creativity. This goes hand-in-hand with the collaboration as well as thinking on your toes. Sometimes these shoots allow for more creativity because of the timing and nature of a project like this, the team doesn't have time to sit and stare and mull over the project. And I have found that photographers especially have great ideas and solutions on the fly that the art directors and designers are more willing to be avant-garde with or experimental.

4. Production Value. While this could also be in the dislike category, because yes the production value does suffer some, I feel it fits nicely here and touches on all the points above. We are still able to pull off a good shoot/project with the right production and elements. It requires effort and finagling but it can be done. I think a good shoot is achievable even with the constraints as long as people/team players are willing, problem solving and creative.

5. No matter what, it always comes together. It can start out as the craziest project with the worst timing and absolutely no budget and for whatever reason (mostly the effort of the whole team) it always comes together and it always works out. The thrill of pulling it all together and having beautiful work come out of it is so rewarding. I feel like it's more energizing knowing the hoops everyone had to jump through.

1. No budget or small budget. The no budget thing kind of puts a damper on the production value. It's tough for the photographer/producer to potentially call in favors, it's tough for the art buyer to explain to the photographer there's little budget and to the account team the importance of certain spending on certain production items, and it's tough for the client to understand why a shoot costs about the same amount as an employee's yearly salary.

2. Complaining. I think complaining doesn't get you anywhere. It's about getting the job done and trying your damnedest to get it done right and to get it done well. As an art buyer I totally get that down and dirty shoots are tough on both sides, for the photographer as well as for the agency. (And none of these dislikes are thought of as complaints.. more like speed bumps to the process of a normal production)

3. Post-production costs. In my experience (most of the time) when these types of shoots are completed and the high res artwork is in-house, they actually require more post-production time and money than normal. Sometimes the weather wasn't right on that day and the sky needs to be cloudier, sometimes the logo placement and cropping wasn't thought of correctly, sometimes in the rush to get a location there's a building the client wants to come out and trees to be put in... there are a few factors that aren't taken into consideration and once it's all said and done it usually needs a bit more work.

4. Timing. I've had different timelines with these types of productions.. some have been 2 days, some a week. It never fails that time ends up being my worst enemy on these down and dirty shoots. The hardest part is making sure that you've gotten everything done (casting, locations, permitting) and it has still gone through some sort of approval process and it's ready to go on the day of. (Doing casting and approvals in one day off headshots is always a crap shoot.)

5. Process. No one really likes the word process but there's always some sort of process or organization that goes into pulling a project together. When fast projects come up, inevitably something slips through the cracks. It could be an advance or PO doesn't get out soon enough, it could be that the location wasn't approved (or permitted correctly), it could be that the money allotment was put against the wrong job or project, it could be a number of things. We all just hope it's a small thing and preferably only one and not several.
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