As my journey of being a photographer seems to never end, and probably never will; I have had this splinter in my mind about creating a stage for either an interview or testimonial. You know… things that help other folks out? Especially if it can (and the person is willing) produce a real reaction and feeling – the truth! No corporate script, no memorizing lines, no control.
So, I decided to host a 7-day nightly acne treatment and have the talent speak about the product and how it feels/benefits or even performs. I didn’t care about what the competition was doing, just wanted a truthful take on using a product and if it’s worth it. Will let the audience decide on their own.
This is my story and I’m sticking to it!
Before we dig deep, this blog will go through the following aspects of executing this production:
1) Stage – backdrop, props, lighting, etc.
2) Storyboard – Scene by scene, day by day vision put down on paper
3) Compensation / Contracts – Should have in place before the casting call
4) Obtaining Talent – For Acne, this is not as easy as you think
5) Scheduling – Giving a 7 day “evening” treatment and testimonial
Here we go...
Stage preparation, probably one of the most important aspects of the entire shoot. It should reflect “something” about the content you’re shooting. Can you imagine shooting a makeup routine sitting in front of bookshelves? I mean, it works but it would have much better representation in a bathroom setting. That said, I was able to put together (altered to some degree) some portable walls using a video from Home Depot. Completely reusable and if you have the storage space – absolutely worth the investment. Mine ended up being 8x8 feet and larger casters. FYI – get quality casters! Seriously… With the walls built, how are we going to decorate these? I decided on a multi-color led strip behind a mirror. Figure it would provide something sleek and we could change it up each day. With portable walls, there really is no limit to what you can come up with – shelving, mock sink with mirror, paint possibilities, etc.…
Next up is storyboard. I’m sure most of us content creators have some idea in their mind about what they want to shoot, what transitions they want to use in post and so much more. For this shoot, since it was 7 days and the acne product had routine aspects, decided to do a detailed storyboard for each day. Not only did it help me relax and prepare the talent each day but, also gave me the opportunity to define what information the talent should be talking about each day. We’re not going to ask them to tell us how effective the acne product is on the second day are we? Acne products can take weeks and sometimes months to show solid results. My take on a storyboard now is, no matter how small the production, create one. You may later think, “Awhh, I wish I got this footage” while in post. To start with, I found doing a bunch of “out-takes” is a great filler and can be fun for the individual being filmed.
I’m sure as a photographer or videographer, you already have a release of liability and copyright contract somewhere stashed away to help protect yourself. If not, you absolutely should! If you are looking for specific talent, it’s best to also have a compensation contract in addition. This shoot was a little bit different than just an hour or two in the studio. Since it was a 7-day treatment and testimonial, I wanted to make sure someone wouldn’t skip out on me after just a few days. Can you imagine? So, I made a contract that would provide some compensation after 5 days (and at least I would have 5 days of content) and a remainder compensation after day 7. This worked out quite nicely and the talent fully understood. The gist of it is, get a contract in place even if your best friends. Never know what can happen.
Obtaining talent… Oh boy, this is probably the whole reason why I’m even writing this blog to begin with. Obtaining talent for an acne treatment and testimonial was probably one of the most mind opening experiences ever performed. Because I knew many folks have acne issues from the age of 13 (sometimes 10) to the age of 21, thought it would be easy. I mean hey, I’m offering free product as well, right? Umm, no… Acne to so many people are very personal. So personal that quite a few didn’t want to expose their acne at all (in public) let alone in front of a camera… and I get and respect that; 100%. So many of us are at various stages in life and you never truly know until you ask the right questions. Make sure you put yourself in the talent’s shoes and the list of questions should come naturally. For this production, I asked things like: do you currently have a skincare routine, what are some of your after school / nightly activities and when do they end? To summarize here, do not EVER think obtaining talent for your production will ever be a slam dunk.
Once you have your motivated talent secured, it’s all about scheduling. Now for my talent, I made sure they were local – no more than an hour drive one way to the studio; just because 7 days is 7 days. In addition, because this is an evening acne treatment routine, I needed to make sure not to interfere with any evening activities as well. Things happen so always be prepared but do NOT take them personally because, life happens!