This post is by Clive Duncan a Senior Consultant at TrinityP3. As a Director and DOP he has an appreciation for the value of great creative and outstanding production values, while also recognising the importance of delivering value for money solutions to the advertiser.
We have all heard the term, ‘the copywriter just wrote him or herself an all expenses paid holiday’. These scripts usually open with the line, “We see a couple hand in hand on a tropical beach”.
Now if the agency is in Sydney, New York or London we know this will be an expensive exercise. A degree of cynicism begins to creep into the whole exercise from those at the agency or in the client’s marketing department that will not be going to the tropical beach.
Envy is part of human nature, but I will put all this aside and focus on some very good reasons to shoot offshore.
1. Location! Location! Location!
One of the prime reasons is the location required.
In some instances it is cheaper to shoot offshore than pay the art department costs to create a location in your home country.
For instance, as a producer I was asked to create German cityscapes and rural settings for the hero product (a car) to drive through.
Yes we have plenty of Germanic buildings and landscapes in Australia for the car to drive past or through, but each of these singular locations are miles and states apart. To get enough locations for this driving montage it was going to take a week to shoot with major logistical problems to overcome. And this montage was only a third of the TVC.
So what did we do?
We shot in Prague in the Czeck Republic. The travel montage was shot in one day and the interior locations were shot in a studio in Prague. So a 7 to 10 day shoot in Australia was reduced to a 2 day shoot in Prague.
The airfares and accommodation costs related to shooting in Prague were miniscule compared to the crew and domestic travel costs for the Australian shoot.
2. The currency exchange rate
Another reason for shooting offshore may be as simple as the exchange rate.
Until recently the NZ dollar was 20% lower than the Australian dollar. NZ crews work for 10 hours for the same pay as an Australian crew working for 8 hours, and NZ talent were happy to work for less, if the TVC was to be shown in Australia only.
Recently I assessed a TVC for a FMCG client. The TVC involved a large number of talent that could dance. The Australian talent bill with all the add-on media, like internet, PR, POS etc., was close to $100K.
The talent cost for Czech talent was half that, approximately $50K for the same media buyout.
As with the NZ talent, the Czech talent saw the job as an opportunity to earn some extra cash without jeopardising their chances of getting roles in the much more lucrative Euro region. When talent rollover is considered, this saving becomes a real game changer.
So as a producer it is a good idea to keep your eye on exchange rates, talent fees and art department costs to create exotic locations at home.
Examples of off shore shoots
Below are two historic examples of offshore shoots.
Shoot 1 – Brewery
Shoot 1 required two Aussie talents walking on a tropical beach. The client was a brewery. They decided to use an English director, and shoot in the Seychelles (a group of pristine islands off the east coast of Africa).
The director, a full crew and all their equipment was flown in from the UK. The Aussie contingent, the talent, agency personnel and the client all flew business class via London.
Then after the shoot all parties returned to London where the director set about editing and finishing the TVC. The entire agency contingency stayed in the UK while this process took place.
Total cost of the exercise $1 million +
Why nobody thought of shooting with an Aussie director on a tropical beach in South East Asia where there is film production infrastructure is beyond me. I estimate that if the TVC were shot in Thailand or Malaysia, for instance, the whole exercise would have cost approximately $500,000.
Shoot 2 – South Australian Lottery
Example 2 is the other extreme. The client was South Australian Lottery. The script called for a young female to deliver a line of sync dialogue to camera while seated in a gondola on the Grand Canal in Venice.
The agency entrusted the job to a local director / cameraman. He, the talent and an assistant / sound recordist all flew economy to Venice. The director / cameraman took his own 35mm sync camera with him.
On the day of the shoot the talent did her own make-up and wardrobe, the assistant sound recordist used a concealed lapel microphone to mike her up. The director / cameraman hailed a gondola paying particular attention to the fact that he got a handsome Gondolier.
They then set off. The director / cameraman set up his 35mm camera on some soft luggage pointing back to the talent, Gondolier and of course the Grand Canal. The assistant / sound recordist checked his audio levels and then lit the model with a portable reflector (the type commonly used by still photographers).
Three takes later the shot was “in the can”. Cost for this shot alone was $ 35K; the total cost for finished TVC was $180,000. The client and the agency were over the moon with the result.
I am not suggesting for one minute that offshore shoots need to be pared back to this extent, but it does go to show that it does not have to cost a fortune to shoot offshore. All it takes is a pragmatic and budget conscious approach.
To find our how TrinityP3 Marketing Management Consultants can help you further with this, click here.