How to shoot marketing content with clients stress-free

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

An account of Gamify’s time with Ken Duncan along with a pre-production checklist.

At Gamify, one of our favourite parts of the job is having the opportunity to get alongside the brands and agencies we’re collaborating with, roll up our sleeves and create something together while having fun. We love our team, and all that entails working internally but we truly enjoy the times we get to either host or meet up with our clients and begin to form what will be the pillars of the promotional material for an upcoming gamification campaign.

On August 20, 2018 Gamify had the honour of hosting some of the team from Resmed along with famous Australian landscape photographer Ken Duncan for a number of digital marketing videos we planned to shoot of Ken for a sleep awareness week game. It was during this shoot that it occurred to me that there are multiple businesses out there that are wanting to get more out of or even just start creating video content for themselves or clients but are unsure how to approach the production aspect of creating video content. In this article, we will provide a checklist that should be signed-off before the cameras start to roll in order to get the most out of a marketing content shoot.

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not your business needs to create video content, consider these numbers from a study conducted by ReelSEO;

  • 93% of marketers are using video in their campaigns

  • 84% are using video for website marketing

  • 60% are using video for email marketing

  • 70% are optimising video for search engines

  • 70% will increase spend on video

  • 82% confirmed that video had a positive impact on their business


There are a handful of things to keep in mind when preparing to spend time on set with clients, most importantly when you can enter a shoot with the mindset of putting everyone at ease, it helps to disarm all parties involved and creates a relaxed atmosphere for everyone’s work to flow in a most methodical way. The best way to give off a calming atmosphere is to actually feel calm, crazy I know. How you achieve that sense of calm is by knowing all your bases are covered with a pre-production checklist.

Pre-production Checklist

This checklist will hit many points but be mindful that it will only cover the practical rollout of a shoot and will not touch on things like; idea conception, budget, defining your message and its audience etc. With that being said, let's get into it.

Script sign-off

A common occurrence within the world of video shoots is when everybody arrives on location only to find the script is missing key details or quite simply does not make sense, resulting in precious shoot time being allocated to rushed rewrites.

Please avoid this situation at all costs, it can be an expensive mistake that creates tension amongst the film crew. Make sure that the script is written, revised and viewed by all the valid parties before being signed-off and confirmed for the shoot ahead. In the case of our shoot with Ken Duncan, we made sure in the week leading up to the shoot that the team at Resmed had gone over the scripts and added or subtracted whatever information they see fits.

Once we had the Resmed team send over their revised, signed-off version of the script, we could focus our efforts and attention to detail on other aspects of the shoot.

With this approach, even if there are last minute changes that need to be made (which there almost always are), no one feels solely responsible and the set can remain guilt free and focused.

Storyboard// Shot List

A storyboard is an efficient way to visualise both the script and the shoot before it happens and assess any glaring issues that need to be adjusted beforehand. After you’ve ironed out the scene-by-scene overview with a storyboard, the shot list allows for you to get surgically precise on a shot-by-shot scale.

Figuring out a storyboard and then a shot list in advance with your producer and videographer will save you tons of time during production.

Determine gear required// Inventory the gear you already have

Depending on the size of the project and the team attached, the wish list of required gear can fluctuate. Do not make the mistake of generalising the gear required for a shoot. You may have a camera within your office, but it may be lacking the correct lens to capture what you’re looking for, you may have studio lights on hand but they may not be able to achieve the correct level of brightness and warmth required.

In the same breath, make sure you do thoroughly go over the gear you do have on hand. There’s nothing worse than going through the hassle of hiring equipment only to find you’ve had specific items in your possession the whole time.

Overestimate the time you’ll need

One of the biggest causes of both an unhappy client and a stressful atmosphere on set is by having there not be enough time allocated for the work. No one likes having someone over promise and under deliver, so make sure when you assess all that needs to be shot, always pad each area with a little extra time. In total you will have enough wriggle room for any issues and delays that may arise on the day.

Most crews that have been on multiple shoots can tell you, a timed schedule is more like a guideline. If you don’t have the shots, you need to keep pushing until you get them. Shoot days almost never run on schedule for better or worse, so if shoots are starting to go beyond the allotted times, you need your crew to remain calm and focused with the knowledge that they have ample time remaining.

From our experience with client shoots, more often than not we find that the early takes are often too “cold”. After a few takes we find that the talent is “warmed up” and ready to give a better performance. When it came to this particular shoot for Resmed, we had 7 videos in total that we had to shoot and it wasn’t until the forth video that we found Ken really came into his own. You want to leave time for the “warmed up” takes.

Your client may not initially be excited about the provided time estimates but if you can manage to wrap up the shoot well within that time frame, they will be a lot more appreciative in the long run.

Lock-in location// Visit location ahead of time

Before you go into autopilot on the topic of locations, ask yourself “is my shoot going to benefit more from a Studio or a Location?”. This is a valid question, as you may find that a studio shoot comes off too clean and artificial in its look, you may also find a location shoot is lacking a certain professional quality you’re going for.

Once you’ve determined where the shoot shall take place, you should checkout the location in advance to the shoot so that you can conceptualise the positioning of everything and how the day will run. This allows for you on the day to simply lay markers for your talent and gear and get right into the work with a strong start.

Visiting a location in advance may also help bring to light any problems with the location you may need to either deal with or work around on the day, once again it is all about being as best prepared for the day so that the team is not overwhelmed with issues outside of the task at hand.

Fortunately for the Gamify marketing team, we decided to shoot with Ken in our studio which we are well versed in using.

Have a Production schedule & a Call sheet

When the shoot day is in effect, everyone should be so focused on their specific job that they need an itinerary to refer to for details outside of their reach, that is what both Production schedules and Call sheets are for. A production schedule is a detailed overview of the entire shoot, covering everything from shot times, allotted meal breaks and camera card numbers.

Production sheets are often used for grander scale productions that span several days whereas Call sheets are used on the day of shooting or on a one off shoot.

A Call sheet contains the contact information of all parties involved along with safety and emergency information, outlining shoot information and the shooting schedule. Click here for a free Call sheet template.

Have food and refreshments available

Often the most overlooked and undervalued aspects of a shoot is the provision of craft services, or food and refreshments made available. If we’re talking about keeping the clients and crew happy and harmonious, make sure you provide a decent spread of food and drink for everyone.

Note the word "decent" used, there is no easier way to make a crew member feel undervalued than to provide an afterthought of unsatisfying snacks. You don’t want to offer the bare minimum or worse yet, nothing at all to your clients and crew. As a shoot progresses and blood sugar levels are low, you will notice a negative change in the atmosphere on set.

The bottom line is take care of your team and clients, it will only help you and your work.

Once you’ve ticked off all the items listed on your pre-production checklist you are well on your way to having a stress free and enjoyable shoot with your clients. In reference to Gamify’s shoot with Resmed and Ken Duncan, we were all big fans of his work, so it was quite a surreal moment for the marketing team at Gamify to be behind the camera while Ken Duncan stood before it. The last thing we wanted to do was embarrass ourselves by not being prepared and able to conduct ourselves in a professional manner.

With the weight off our shoulders due to our checklist, we were able to have a very relaxed and conversational shoot with Ken, also thanks in part to his disarming and laid back persona.

Gamify relishes opportunities to work with great brands and people alike, if you wish to learn more about our services or would like to partner with Gamify, please contact our team to see how we can help you with your next marketing campaign.

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