BESSIE AWARDS - The Crossing Studios
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Ideas: getting back to the basics

Playback April 30, 1990
Dian Cross, Executive producer, The Ace Film Company, Vancouver

It seems more and more that people are getting back to basics. Getting back to what’s important. And that is the message. The selling point. The idea. Vignette spots are great fun to shoot and look wonderful on reel. The problem is that most of the time, one vignette spot is more indistinguishable from another. How many times can you watch some trendy couple spray each other with the hose while they’re washing the car?

Television shows like Roseanne and thirtysomething are popular because people want to watch something they can relate to. Characters who … good. Kids with character are better.

Another thing we’re noticing are scripts with better dialogue. Dialogue that sounds believable. Words that someone might actually say. Writer seem more flexible. More willing to work together with the director to develop dialogue that’s natural and simple.

On the other side of the coin, there is a trend towards spots that are dependent upon today’s post technology. Spots that don’t look like much on paper but that give you the opportunity to explore an as yet relatively uncharted field. The difficult part of producing these spots is getting them past the client approval stage. Unfortunately, for clients that rely on pretesting their spots in focus groups it’s difficult to get your tests subjects to understand how it’s all going to come together. Producers today have to be more aware of what can be done in post and the effective way of using these tools.

Music videos have a strong impact on trends in commercial production. I regularly watch the music channels, because they are always one step ahead. Always trying something new. They can afford to try new techniques and really push themselves. We can learn a lot about new ways of shooting, cutting, transferring and even thinking about film just from watching music videos.

Videos are what kids watch. What kids want to see. They are accustomed to seeing a myriad of shots, quick cuts, bizarre angles. If you want to appeal to kids, you have to keep up. Show them something that catches their interest. They know what’s cool. If you don’t then don’t try to fake it. You’ll lose them in a flash.

About Canadian advertising in general, we hear from our counterparts in the States that Canadian advertising is more leading edge, more daring. While we’re envying the budgets they have to work with, they’re admiring the creative challenges we have to work with. If I had to choose, I’d take good creative every time. However, it’s nice to know that they think we’re setting trends rather than following them.