A Strategic Approach to Strategic Planning
June 7, 2017

Learning the Ropes of the Production Team

Well, here it goes. Walking into Black Dot I felt like I entered a whole new world. Naturally I didn’t know what to expect but when I met the production team I felt right at home. They were a bubbly group of people that are always politically incorrect. Too comfortable I could almost put my feet up.
However, one thing I noticed very quickly was that I was with talented and creative people. This wasn’t a bad thing; I just wondered how I would adjust, as they knew so much more than I did. Happy to learn I stuck with the people that could make me laugh but more importantly teach me the way production works.
Here’s what I learnt so far:

  • Photo-shoots are more complicated than they seem
  • Editing will take me forever to learn
  • I am not a director

My first Friday here I took part in a photo-shoot for Zamtel. Little did I know the shoot would happen in the office. So little resources but the team made something beautiful out of nothing. The concept was to have models talking on a phone whilst laying on a bed (which I set up, but that’s for another blog). The models struggled at first but thereafter everyone got comfortable and it was a fun experience. Seeing the work come to life and looking at the final image thinking, wow, I had a part in that even if it was so little.

Video production in Zambia
This led me to become curious about how to operate a camera. Luckily a week later I learnt how to setup a camera, tripod and all the fancy lights – strobes/ flashlights etc. There really is more to it than just the camera itself. From what I learnt, the essentials are a backdrop, main light, camera, reflector and I guess a model. There’s always a use of the camera every other day so this was a good aspect to learn. As for the fancy buttons on the camera, I’m still yet to know each and every one of them.
The one thing I’m determined to learn is editing. Every day the Black Dot production team is editing a new advert. Such a short clip of footage can take forever to edit but upon seeing the final products I was so inspired to learn. Not only are there iMovie, Final cut and Adobe Photoshop. However that’s all I had ever known of and unfortunately all of these you cannot learn over night. Minus knowing these products, there’s also the use of the Macs. It’s not the easiest PC to work with once you start but as the saying goes “once you go Mac, you can’t go back!”.
Now for my last weakness….I am not a director! Last week we were preparing a short clip for Father’s Day and I was asked to direct the shoot. Now, I don’t have the greatest confidence at all. Whilst directing some people laughed at me and surprisingly others helped. I learnt the keys to directing were:

  • To prepare your actors beforehand with what they will be required to do
  • To find your voice and be confident
  • Have a good producer

If I had known all of this prior to filming, the experience probably would have gone differently, though it most likely wouldn’t have been as fun. Every mistake made was a lesson learnt.
To conclude, there are many aspects of production and so much more to learn. The short time here has definitely opened my eyes to what it would be like to work for a top-tier advertising agency. I know I’m going to do so much more and I’m incredibly excited about it.

By Christine Mulenga

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