Monday Prescriptions – 5 Things You Can Learn from Advertising

Hello Film Doctor friends.

With so many filmmakers starting their careers at ad agencies,  it is no wonder that the Film Doctor team have decided to have a little dive into “Mad Men’s world”.

This week’s Monday Prescription looks at what filmmakers can take away from advertising.

Film Doctor - Learning from advertising

1. Selling ideas to clients/Selling to the target market = Selling project concept to investors / “Selling” your film to the audience – If anyone knows how to sell ideas it’s “the ad people”, right? Notice one important thing when researching ads: packaging. Learn their techniques – pitching, mood boards, visuals, empathy, emotional triggers, etc. If you can “package” and present your project, as effectively, as the creatives at Saatchi & Saatchi, then you’ve got the attention of your ‘target group’ – be it film investors, festival programmers or the viewers buying movies online.


2. The power of catchy ad songs = The power of music in film – Ad people know the power of a catchy tune – and the power of association that it creates. Music in ads serve not only as an ‘attention getter’, but can create a lasting memory or association – McDonald’s and Justin Timberlake’s “I’m Lovin’ It”, for example. Music can also become defining or even somewhat iconic for a movie, so don’t overlook that creative aspect of your project. Music isn’t just something to ‘throw in’. Directors like Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola and Danny Boyle all have impressive soundtracks.


3. Discipline & deadlines management = Discipline & deadlines management – Being able to pull off something high quality on a tight deadline is what the ad agencies do. If you master that, no feature film shooting schedule will ever be a headache for you.


4. Subliminal messages/Image louder than words = Subtext / Showing more than telling – The best adverts influence us with subliminal messages ‘transmitted’ through a great combination of memorable artwork/photo & copy. Ad ‘films’ (for TV & web) follow the “show more, speak less” principle: the words/voice over are carefully crafted and measured, so that just the right amount of ‘spoken message’ accompanies the ‘seen message’. Cinema is a visual medium after all, so you could take a leaf from the advertisers’ book and train yourself to use clever, powerful imagery over sparse dialogue. You don’t always need to “spell it out” for the audience – rather, become a master of subtext and iconic shots.


5. Telling stories – Says it all really. Great ads are great little stories.


‘Monday Prescription’ No. 73 – Keep your eye on other mediums (this time advertising) to see how they approach their audience and forge memorable viewing experiences.

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Have a great week!
The Film Doctor Team
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