How NOT to Get Sucky Footage for Your Ads

Guide to the best footage for your ads

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It was the day before a big photo shoot, and I had booked the house we would shoot at.

I start asking the owner for details about the space and getting into the house for production.

No response.


I start to get weirded out that they aren’t responding.

I haven’t had this happen before.

By about 8 PM I start to realize that I need to get another plan going.

So I jump back onto Peerspace and Airbnb, and reach out to a bunch of different hosts.

At around 11 PM I got the green light for another house.

The next day did the shoot and it went great.

Just another Tuesday in production.

This story is an anecdote of what happens in production for ads - things don’t go as planned.

You need to be flexible, adaptable, and organized for chaos.

Everyone loves talking about ads.

Few can produce them.

Making ads is very hard to execute.

Poor production planning could be a killer to a great ad idea.

Most people talking about ads have others create for them.

They might come up with ad ideas, but they get a creator to make the ad.

They don’t know all that goes into making certain shots happen.

We are different at Goodo Studios.

We shoot all of our content in person.

So instead of shipping product to random creators after creative strategy, we get talent, rent locations, shoot all content, and edit it.

We shoot 3-4 times a week in-person.

It started out with just me and maybe a few shoots a month before our team of 7.

For this to work, we need a well oiled machine.

Luckily my team helps us keep on track.

But we have more reps than pretty much anyone in this space, so we know a thing or two about how to pull off a great production.

I personally have touched each part of the production.

Heck - still jump in and help because I love it and believe I always need to be close the creation of the ads.

Last week we talked about creative strategy, this week we are going to go through everything you need for production whether you shoot the content or someone else does.

This topic was supposed to be one issue, but we are breaking editing into its own issue for next week.

For this week, here is your production checklist that we will go through.

PS. If you didn’t read last week’s complete guide to creative strategy, you can do so by clicking here.

Planning Production

Most people like to talk about creative strategy - it is easy logistically compared to talking about production.

As a reminder, production happens in the real world.

You have to be prepared for shipping products, coordinating schedules of people, buying props, etc.

There are a lot of variables that could change, so being more organized upfront can allow you to make changes and decisions while keeping your cool.

Set the Date

Before you jump into more fun parts of production like talent search or shooting the content, you need to plan the date of the shoot.

By having an anchor for the production, it is easy to build around that date.

You can look for houses only available on that day.

You can find talent or creators who can shoot on this day.

It helps you with decisions because you are trying to fit it within a timeframe.

If you are a brand, I would do this for creators so you can predict when you are getting your content better.

This advice is not just for planning in-person shoots.

All production should have dates.

To review:

  • All production should have a date set for the production

A great part about shooting in-person is getting talent that looks like your ideal customer.

I don’t know a lot of 60 year old women creators, but I do know a lot that love to be on camera if we tell them what to do.

For each brief or script your wrote, you want to have a person in mind that will be in front of camera.

Whether it is you or someone that is helping you get talent, you need to describe that person.

You can use local Facebook groups, search on Instagram, and use Backstage.

We use those but since we have worked with over 100 different talent, we also tap into their network of friends too.

Talent agencies are very pricey and archaic - I would only use for TV shoots if at all. For simple ads, go local to start.

Whenever you are doing a model/actor call, the more specific you are the better.

Communicating is time consuming.

If you are talking to not great-fits, you are wasting your time.

So be specific for the look and feel that you are going for for this shoot.

Clarity will save you time.

To review:

  • Be very specific with who you are looking for as talent

  • Use Facebook groups, Instagram, and Backstage to find talent

Similar to the talent search, whoever wrote that script or brief needs to be able to communicate the space they need for the shoot.

The last thing you want to is to rent a space but it doesn’t have a full kitchen which you need.

List out all of your house needs and vibes - it will help with the search.

I am a big fan of Peerspace because you can rent houses by the hour.

Usually you get some nice houses as well.

We do also use Airbnb.

If you want to book an Airbnb, you need to first message the owner for production approval.

Explain what you are doing and show past work so they know you are legit.

Most hosts will be down and we haven’t run into many problems.

The incentive for these people is to book these houses whether it is for a whole day or just a few hours.

Once you understand that, you realize you have more power to negotiate and get the spaces you want for the shoot.

By knowing the dates of the shoot, it makes it VERY easy to filter by day to find what is available on Peerspace and Airbnb.

To review:

  • Be clear on the space you need and the types of rooms and look

  • Use Peerspace or Airbnb to book houses

  • If you use Airbnb, you must get sign off from the owner

Finding creators is searching for talent + location + shooter + editors all in one.

That is a lot of factors for the creator to be good at to make a great ad.

They could be great on camera but have a house that doesn’t fit your brand vibe or needs for video.

The creator could have a great location but shoots poorly.

If you rush finding creators, your ads will suck.

You need to put in the work and time to find people.

Personally, I think going through platforms is not a good option.

I wrote a whole thread on that here about a year ago.

I think it is best if you just find people on social media who are creating content in your niche and reach out to them.

Make sure they don’t have a huge following or else they up charge you for their audience.

You don’t need influencers, just people who create content.

Have a set price on your payment, and find people who will be okay with that price.

You will need to go through a lot of profiles and portfolios, but owning your relationship with creators can help ensure quality control.

Start with a trial.

If you like them, get them on a monthly cadence.

To review:

  • Don’t rush getting creators. Find the right fits.

  • Seek creators on social who are already creating within you niche

  • Have a set price for videos so you don’t have to negotiate with each person

  • Trial and if you like them, work with them monthly

Building a Production Board

You wrote out the scripts and briefs but you can’t just start shooting.

What is written may not be the best order for shooting content.

For example, lets say you are doing outfit changes within the video.

You need to shoot all of the outfit 1 footage and talking, then outfit 2 footage and talking.

My videographer takes the scripts and briefs and puts together a shot list and order on the production board.

My production assistant will go through the briefs and pick out any props we need or specific location needs for shots.

The production board is not optimized to read a script from start to finish - it is optimized to make production run smoothly.

You do not want to be on the shoot thinking about what you need to shoot next.

If you are creator, you should still do this. It will clarify how you shoot.

To review:

  • Create a production board to organize shots in shoot order, not final ad order

  • Make sure outfits and props are planned

  • Make sure a more in-depth shot list is created

Briefing Talent

We send the talent our briefs and the lines they will have before the shoot.

We walk through past examples of our content and what we want to shoot/accomplish on this upcoming shoot.

We also give them directions on clothes, hair, makeup, and accessories.

If you are a brand, you should have written down you Do’s and Dont’s for content. This makes it easy to get what you want from creators or creative studios like Goodo Studios.

Briefing talent is a great time to also do product education so they can internalize everything before the shoot.

To review:

  • Send briefs to talent ahead of shoot

  • Have Do’s and Dont’s for content from the brand.

  • Make sure to educate on the product as much as possible

Last Minute Production Things

The small details matter in an ad.

Get extra props based on the production board so you have options when you are shooting.

Make sure clothes, outfits, sheets, etc are steamed or ironed.

Get extra accessories for outfits so you can play with options day of shoot.

If you are doing a cooking video - get extra ingredients.

Always have more on hand.

If you think you need one lemon for something, get 4.

A shot might not work the first time… or 5 times.

Be prepared by having more then less.

Trust me, having less on the day of the shoot is stressful.

To review:

  • Get extra props and accessories

  • Make sure clothes are steamed

  • Be prepared to have more than less on set

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Shooting Content

If you are prepared, shooting actually is so fun.

This is the chance to execute what you have planned.

Most of your mind should be on how to best shoot this product in the space with the talent based on your brief.

If you aren’t prepared, you will be doing less creative thinking and more production thinking.

Remember, shooting content is an art form.

You need to play with shots and discover the best ones.

Sometimes it is the unplanned shots that are the best.

You can’t go deep on an idea or try shots multiple times if you are unorganized.

Shooting content is the culmination of great planning.

Now it is time to have fun.

How to Shoot Great Ads

You will shoot well because you are already prepared.

When you are shooting, start with the plan you made, but always get more than you think.

So try one angle from the shot list, but then quickly zoom in and do it again.

Or move your camera and body and do the shot again.

When you are playing with distance and space, that is how you can get interesting shots.

By having more content to work with, it makes editing easier because you can get faster cuts and not run out of content to choose from.

Don’t be lazy when shooting.

Don’t get “enough” - explore angles.

The best shots come from experimentation.

Beyond just getting lots of content and different angles, there are other factors to play with while shooting.

Light is another factor.

If you have a lot of external lights versus just house lights, you can set the mood or add texture to shots.

Light is just so powerful.

Creators will be limited because most don’t have lots of external lights, but we do so it allows us to play with shadows, soft light, or even harsh light.

By having your visual references handy from the brief, you can use those to help build the light in your space.

To review:

  • Start with the plan you had written out

  • Don’t get “enough” - get lots of angles

  • Experimentation can lead to the best shots

  • Play with light if available

  • Always have visual references handy to help guide you

The Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds gets it own section because by knowing this, it will immediately help your shooting get better.

You can easily put the grid marks on your phone in the settings.

By putting your subject at the intersection of the points or on certain lines, you create visual symmetry and intrigued.

I like to keep the eyes on the top line most of the time.

I love to use those intersection points to give the product space.

Not everything has to be center, center all of the time.

By playing with framing, your footage will stand out since most don’t even understand framing.

A few years ago I broke down the framing in Severance the TV show.

If you want to learn more, read this breakdown because I draw on screen to show the composition.

To review:

  • Add grid lines to camera to line up

  • Play with the subject being at the intersection of lines

  • Not everything has to be center, center

How to Get Great Talking From Talent

The talent should have practiced and reviewed lines before shooting.

Creators should practice lines before shooting as well.

If they have a day for their brain to internalize scripts, it can help them feel prepared when shooting.

We first have the talent read the whole script out loud to record a full voiceover.

This allows us to help guide the talent and we redo lines in order to get a different emphasis or emotion.

Then we do the talking to camera lines.

Because we have a great brief, we know the shot ahead of schedule when it comes to talking on camera lines making it easy to just focus on getting the line down.

To make people feel comfortable, we usually shoot this part on a phone versus a camera.

Most people are used to FaceTiming a friend so we try to recreate that atmosphere.

We usually do many takes until we feel like the line is said in a way we believe will resonate with the viewer.

It is a luxury to control and shape the lines.

This is a downside of working with creators - you don’t know how they are talking on camera until they send you the final video.

It is important if you are working with creators to give them a lot of guidance on lines and the script to make sure you get an ad that resonates with the viewer and doesn’t feel boring.

Once all of the lines are done, we do what we call prompting.

We ask questions about the product or an experience.

This allows us to get genuine reactions, stories, and lines.

If you get talent that is the ideal audience, this isn’t fake - it is real.

The prompting is powerful if done by someone who understands ads.

We have someone shooting the video, but this whole section is directed by our creative strategist who can ask the right questions knowing what will be great for ads.

To review:

  • Give talent and creators time to review their lines

  • Go through script as voiceover then do talking to camera lines

  • After all lines, prompt person with questions to get genuine reactions, lines, and stories.

Things to Think About While Shooting

When setting up an angle to shoot, I go through a quick checklist:

  1. What is in the background? Can I see things I don’t want to see?

  2. How does talent look? Are they wearing everything correctly?

  3. Are things steamed and look good in the space?

  4. Is the camera level or tilted? If tilted, is that on purpose?

  5. Is the light too much or too little?

  6. How does the color of the image look?

  7. Is this the framing I want based on the rule of thirds?

  8. When getting ready for talking, did we do a sound check. Is the mic on and sounds natural?

Production is NO joke.

If you ever want to get even nerdier with shoots, let me know, but this was in-depth enough for most brands needs.

Next week we will be talking about editing!

If you found this helpful, forward it because I want you to get your whole creative team on this email so you can talk about it internally.

Keep creating!

Matthew Gattozzi

PS. here the resources from the newsletter.

PPS. If you didn’t read last week’s complete guide to creative strategy, you can do so by clicking here.

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