If you are thinking about creating a commercial, let us be the first to tell you that it’s a WILD ride so buckle up! Amazing, crazy, cool - yeah. But also, completely insane!
What people don’t see is how much WORK goes on behind the scenes for a mere 2-minute video. Of course, it’s all worth it in the end when you have the finished product but getting there is a tough job. Since our motto is “sharing is caring,” we’re going to give you the exact breakdown of how we made our viral commercial. (For those who haven't seen it yet, check it out below!)
Hire A Script Writer
This is the most important step - it will literally MAKE OR BREAK your commercial!
Trust us - we attempted to write our own script prior to hiring a script writer and let's just say the security awareness commercial you are ROTFL at would have been a fairytale lullaby if we decided to skip this step and go with our original idea. Which is precisely why it is beneficial to hire a script writer - not only can they actually write the script for you and in the correct format (yes, there is a professional format that we knew nothing about!), but they can also bring ideas to the table that you never even thought of.
PRO TIP: Make sure to hire a writer that understands your brand and the message you are trying to convey. And even more importantly, make sure you know what the message is. Sounds obvious, but when you start brainstorming, you will find that you have a lot of things you want to say. And with each topic that you add, you dilute the main message and confuse the viewer. So pick one main thing you want to convey and double down on it.
For us, we loved the Dollar Shave Club commercial and knew we wanted our security awareness commercial to be just as funny and memorable while sharing who we were and what we do. Instead of hiring just any 'ole script writer, we searched for a script writer who also had a background in comedy. That’s how we found the comedian and script writer, Josh Wolinsky, who you also might know as Daddy Doubts on Twitter.
Book A Production Company
Before we go any further, let’s dive into what a production company actually does …because before this, we had no idea!
A production company is the center of communication and planning for any commercial. They are responsible for everything - script development, storyboards, scene concepts, location scouting, rehearsals, budgets, catering, even hiring the film crew, actors, makeup artist and wardrobe stylist! And that doesn't include the actual filming of the commercial or all the editing that happens afterwards. Bottom line: they are the ones that make your vision come to real life.
We were so lucky to partner with Schmeh Films based in New York City to create our security awareness commercial. Talk about an incredible production company - we never had to worry about a single thing. Not only was everything completely handled but also organized and delivered to make the decision-making process seamless and simple. Which brings us to the next point…
Choose Your Actors With Care
We had a good idea on what type of lead actor we wanted but left the door open to anything because you just never know! When we saw Hanna Gaffney, we knew she was our STAR. She had that Flo from Progressive energy and read the script exactly how we envisioned it. The same went for Josh Hyman, the Wizer “super fan.” He had us doubled over laughing all throughout his audition.
With that said though, there were other amazing actors and we did marinate over if we should go with them. So how did we end up choosing? We leaned on our brand - and our gut - to guide us. Knowing exactly what our brand is and who our audience was going to be, we were able to make a sometimes impossible decision super easy for us.
Pick Your Wardrobe...And Then Pick Again
We were extremely particular about how the actors were dressed because we knew this would be not only a reflection of the brand, but also how the information in the security awareness commercial would be perceived by the audience. We wanted to recreate a realistic environment and not have the audience focused on the wardrobe if it didn’t match that. Also, once you realize how much you are spending to create this commercial, the last thing you want is to make it irrelevant in 6 months because of the clothing options. We trusted our wardrobe stylist - who was very accommodating to our multitude of revisions - but again led with our brand and audience demographics in mind. In the end, the stylist nailed it!
Cast Real Employees
We wanted our security awareness commercial to feel real for the viewer which is exactly why we opted to cast Wizer employees, including our down-for-anything Founder & CEO Gabriel Friedlander as the toliet-plunging janitor. While Gabriel is a security awareness expert, acting was definitely a foreign concept, but one that he took on with grace for his film debut. This naivety actually gave the commercial the authenticity that we craved, and if we had more team members living locally, we would have absolutely cast them in roles, too!
Film Your Commercial
Congrats! You made it to shoot day! The moment everyone has been anxiously waiting for. When you arrive on set, you can feel the intense energy and creativity just bursting from every corner. The film crew is hurriedly setting up and making minor adjustments while the makeup artist and wardrobe stylist are prepping the actors. Everything is abuzz. We were corralled to a “holding room” where we were able to view the scene “takes” on a jumbo screen, and given a phone number to text real time feedback to the producer who relayed it to the director. There are so many people on set from the film crew to the actors to the makeup artist, that it’s easier for the client (i.e. us) to be in a separate room so we weren’t in the way. This was also a great idea because we were walking around in COMPLETE AWE of everything, and those “ooo’s” and “aahh's” can get a little distracting especially when there needs to be “quiet on set.”
It might be a good time to tell you that even though 2-minutes may seem like nothing to film, production typically takes on average a day or two. We only had a day to film so our production company and cast really stepped it up to make it happen. This meant an extra long 12-hour day with a very strict timeline since they had to quickly breakdown and set up for the next scene.
By the end of it, we were all so exhausted (yes, even those of us who did nothing but sit in the waiting room haha) but also super excited. We couldn’t wait to see the final cut of our security awareness commercial with our CEO’s official film debut!
Make The Final Touches
So what happens after the commercial is filmed? Well, everything! First, the film editor along with the cinematographer review the compilation of raw footage and choose which scenes will make it to the final cut. Then, they add in the unique transitions that were planned out way before filming commenced to blend all the scenes together. Once the raw cut is approved, the colorist and special effects professionals make the final touches with the lighting, coloring and sounds to make it really pop.
From idea to final cut, the whole process to create the commercial took about 4 months. Which is actually quite quick in the film industry! Again, this was all possible because our production company was organized and kept the train moving along (even when we hit a COVID snag).
And that’s it! That’s how we made our commercial. Of course, there is so much more to this - the highlights don’t really do the process or the emotions you feel along the way any justice. We guess you just have to experience it for yourself!