Tips and Tricks for Shooting Commercials on a Budget
Diving into commercial cinematography? These tips and techniques will help you not only stay on budget but impress your clients in a big way.
Whether it's a deeply held passion or just a stepping stone on a path towards narrative projects, most filmmakers will eventually earn a paycheck or two from commercial work. While the income is a really, really nice change of pace from the bottomless financial pit that we so often find ourselves in while making movies, this type of work comes with a unique set of challenges. Namely satisfying clients so you can keep getting hired.
Indy Mogul has a couple of great videos on its YouTube channel right now in which Ted Sim goes over some professional techniques used by DP Justin Jones. These videos will surely help you elevate your commercial cinematography game. Check them both out below.
The first one walks you through shooting a classic "beer" commercial, including the difficult lighting set-ups you often encounter for these types of projects.
For those of us who are balling on a budget, Jones shares some really helpful tips on how to keep a commercial shoot as financially economical as possible.
Perhaps one of the most valuable things you can learn as a filmmaker is basic budget mastery. This includes being able to look at the numbers and know rather quickly what you can and can't do.
Luckily, we live in a time of cheap tech and online education, so even if all you have is consumer-level gear and access to the internet, you can still earn some money doing commercials (and perhaps even making a name for yourself).
The proof is in the pudding! Jones benches his 8K RED cinema shooter in favor of a Canon 6D Mark II to show you that, yes, you can shoot beautiful images and do great work with budget gear.
Your client doesn't care what you shoot on, they care about the final product and how much it's going to cost.
I shot one of my first commercial projects on a DIY dolly and a borrowed Rebel. The image quality, at least back then, was... not great. Knowing this, though, I was able to convince my client, who was a local band promoter, to try some things to punch up the production, things that required a bit more time (and therefore, money).
Understanding your limits, whether it's via gear, location, or even yourself, is imperative if you want to counteract them with creative (and cheap!) solutions. The tips and techniques from these videos hopefully gave you some ideas and guidance on how to knock your next commercial shoot out of the park.