So Much Work for Just 60 Seconds

When you watch commercials, music videos, TV programs, or films, do you ever wonder who it is that handles the job of getting them on camera and how they’re put together? That’s the work of a video production company. There are really two kinds of companies that create video content. A technical production company may target details that the client isn’t interested in doing. They may do the things that come after the video is shot, the editing and the post-production. Or they may simply take the finished video and post it online. That’s one thing that a video production company may do.

Other companies are full-service. That means they do it all from start to finish, and post-production as well. A full-service company will do the creative development, then write the script. They’ll be responsible for locations and casting. They’ll produce, edit, and deliver the final product for posting. A company like this is totally hands-on; the client states what they want and the video professionals do the rest.

A commercial production company, as you may expect, has a specific focus. It creates short videos, 30 to 60 seconds, that are oriented toward commercial branding. They are all about promoting a product, a company, or a service; or getting a company’s name, brand, and message out in front of the public as widely as possible. A commercial production company creates videos to grab the public’s attention and interest, and to create excitement-“buzz,” as it’s often called. The company creates what are effectively “teasers” to bring in potential customers.

Commercial producers and their creative teams have to get excited about a client’s product, brand, or message. In this way they develop ideas that connect with the audience. Their process includes personally experiencing what the client is selling to create an understanding of the market and the customer.

The video producer’s job looks creative and exciting, and it can be. It is also a highly demanding and responsible job that calls for not only creativity but people and business skills. The producer might be thought of as a “creative problem-solver.” He or she is the leader of the process from pre-production through actual production to post-production. The producer is responsible for the planning, scheduling, and final editing of the project, and hiring the talent and the staff. He takes part in selecting graphics and audio and may actually write the script. He is the point of contact between the company and the client, facilitating all communications to make sure the project is delivered according to the client’s specifications. And of course, it’s the producer’s job to make sure everything is done on time and on budget.

Steinbeck Hitchcock and Yes, Lifeboat

What on earth do Steinbeck and Hitchcock have in common? Well, nothing except that they made a film together called Lifeboat. They did not even share any common interests in terms of their work. John Steinbeck created novels such as Grapes of Wrath which is still considered as a literary masterpiece even by modern critics. The novel was highly controversial at the time it was first published in 1939 due to the anti-capitalist sentiments. But it also won the Pulitzer Prize. This and his work later were instrumental in getting John Steinbeck his maiden Nobel Prize for literature. Steinbeck also wrote some comedies such as Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat but thrillers, not any that I know of.

Alfred Hitchcock lived thrillers and absolutely thrillers. However, he did take some diversions into other genres such as comedies in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and also some nonfiction films just before the Second World War. After the war, he mostly stuck to what he knew best and that was making thriller movies. I don’t know what Steinbeck was thinking about while writing Lifeboat. Was he intentionally making a thriller or just an interracial film with a hypothetical situation about people from various communities of German and allied forces getting together and having to do battle together? I think it’s later and that’s where Steinbeck came into the picture.

Originally the screenplay of Lifeboat was credited to John Steinbeck. But after the film was released Steinbeck requested his name to be removed from the credits because he felt the film had unkind words against organized labor. However, the British and American press at the time thought the film glorified German characters and denigrating the US and British characters. Modern critics see things differently though. Hitchcock defended his characterization because he respected his movie villains. Characterization of a villain has been the hallmark of Hitchcock films over the years. The moral of the story in his opinion was to get the allies together to fight against Nazis.

Lifeboat was nominated for 3 Oscars but received none and it was not commercially very successful either due to the negative publicity and controversies surrounding the film. It was Hitchcock who came up with the idea for the film and considered several top writers at the time for the project including Ernest Hemingway and A J Cronin. Hitchcock didn’t use music in the film as he thought it was imprudent to do so. Where would music come from in the sea? He retorted when asked about it. He was countered with where would the cameras come from in the middle of the sea?

I am a diehard Hitch fan and have seen all his best work and more. I never felt him being racist or unkind to any community unless it is for the characterization. The very fact that he chose Steinbeck for this project confirms this fact for me. But it is a strange combination all the same. After so many years of Hitchcock, it is difficult to associate him with a writer who is not at all a thriller writer. It is a lonesome but great alliance all the same.