Yesterday, I completed making my 12th Ad film, this one for my current employer Specsmakers. Though I always had a liking and flair for commercial cinema, the most I have come close is to write movie reviews. Never in my life did I imagine I would be part of 12 Ad films for 2 brands, one an established one with a great market presence and another, a budding consumer brand. Whichever way, it’s been a great learning experience.
It all began in 2020 during the peak of the first ever lockdown which was an outcome of an unknown viral disease which was popularised by its medical name SARS Novel Coronavirus, moniker name Covid-19. The country was shutdown for over 3 weeks since 27 March and the rest of the world was no different including Europe, Australia and everything in between, save for the US where the former President and many others reckoned that such a didn’t never exist – living in denial for long.
I read newspaper reports of silly family arguments which led to extreme cases of domestic violence all the way leading up to suicides and divorce. The reason – disagreement to share household work. These were young couples, most of them who had not even crossed their 10th wedding anniversaries. From a nervous breakdown due to not stepping out of home or socialising to concerns of job loss or loss of income, people were getting more depressed than ever. During late May, my septuagenarian parents tested positive for Covid-19. I took them to the Govt. approved medical isolation centre and dropped them off – eyes swollen and with an eerie feeling, whether I would see them ever after. To all our surprise, they both were discharged on the 3rd day after a basic treatment even as the Govt. had to fill their beds with more deserving patients.
That’s when it stuck to me that I should do an AD film which would go on TV to showcase how Senior Citizens in India (and worldwide) went about doing their own things while the younger generation was complaining. The result was a TVC shoot feat. Pandmashree Dhananjayans, the ace dance couple from Chennai who popularised Bharatnatyam dance form world over. The couple shot for 8 hours, showcasing household work and enjoying Levista coffee & their own company! In a few months, we shot 3 Ads for Levista coffee to celebrate the association with Chennai Super Kings. The Ads which were played exclusively on TV channels and on Youtube went viral, garnering mass appeal and great brand presence. Later, we did 2 more ADs to celebrate the festival spirit and festivities as well as accepting WFH and moving on.
In 2021, when I joined Specsmakers, we shot 2 Ads, one of which was an industry first. The lead actor prompted people to buy a new pair of specs as part of their festival shopping which had some serious positive impact on our Deepavali Sales. The other one was two friends discussing about affordable specs continues to garner more and more respect for the brand.
And over the last 2 days, we shot six TVCs – yes, six of them in a tightly planned and executed schedule which wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation, strategic planning and execution of the Director and his capable team members. While all the 12 Ads have been directed by professional Ad film makers of high repute, I must say that I was actively involved in evolving the concept, writing the script, being at the shooting spot and making on-the-spot corrections and improvisations and of course, to plan their broadcast appropriately so the respective brands got their desired and deserved visibility and promotion. Needless to say, never tried to ghost-direct the scenes while leaving all creative liberties to the Director, Camera & Lighting team, Costume Designers and the Actors.
Last but not the least, I also ended up acting in an AD film for Quick Heal anti-virus products which was released earlier this week. Though I desired to take up modelling 25 years back, it finally happened now!
My most important learning from the creation of these Brand assets – either being behind the camera or in front of it, something for which I have not been formally trained, is that one can excel in any field of their choice including film-making, whether short form or long and at any age in their lifetime, provided we give our best to sincerely learn the techniques from scratch with dedication and latch on to the one who teach us.
Practical experience that I have gained watching innumerous commercial feature films all these years have also helped me to appreciate the detailing and importance for nuances which have often come out at the sets and on the spot much to the surprise & delight of the crew!