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All you need to know about career as ad filmmaker

Good ad filmmakers who have the gift of making an instant connect with audiences are in demand

education Updated: May 26, 2016 16:08 IST
Rozelle Laha
Rozelle Laha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
ad filmmaking,ad filmmaker,media
Ad filmmaker Nishant Goyal entertains the young star of a child nutrition brand commercial during a shoot.(Handout Image)

Each time Nishant Goyal wrote for his school and college magazines, his storytelling skills were amply evident. Later, while studying for a BCom degree from the University of Mumbai, Goyal worked as a scriptwriter and voice over artist in a Mumbai-based FM channel for two years and copywriter at Ambience D’Arcy, an advertising agency. Along with part-time experience, by the time he graduated, Goyal had managed to hone his writing skills.

Project close to my heart

More work followed for Lowe Lintas and Partners. Then he did a stint as assistant director at Apocalypso Filmworks; dabbled with air promos for HBO Asia in Singapore and did screenwriting for a few production houses before joining Ogilvy and Mather Advertising as associate creative director.

It was here that Goyal got the first taste of ad filmmaking. “I was intrigued by the entire process of the script becoming a film. The process of translating a story from paper to film is extremely creatively fulfilling. Being a director gives you the opportunity to bring the story to life,” says Goyal, who is currently working as director at Corcoise Films.

He recently worked with Sachin Tendulkar on an ad film for the National Skill Development Council’s Skill India initiative, which he says, is “One project that is very close to my heart because it was a collaboration with two legends - Sachin Tendulkar (Indian cricketer) and Piyush Pandey (executive chairman and creative director of Ogilvy & Mather India and South Asia)”.

What ad film-makers do

The script written by Divya Bhatia of Ogilvy and Mather Advertising, New Delhi was given to Goyal, who was responsible for directing the 60-second feature.

So, what do ad film-makers do? They are either directors or producers. While all creative decisions are taken by the directors, producers manage the operational side of film-making. In other words, the director translates a script creatively, decides the cast, costumes, venue of shoot and chooses technicians and producers to help the director manage the entire production by looking into the operational aspects which include hiring technicians, managing locations, arranging camera rentals and so on. Goyal, who is an ad film director, says, “a director’s role begins when I get the script from the agency. I try to value add something to the script to enhance it further, tighten the dialogues, make it crispier, plan on how to shoot it to make it stand out from other commercials on TV, decide the shooting locations, cast, costumes and so on.”

Responsibilities, ­challenges

The responsibility of the ad filmmaker is two-fold – to honour the vision of creative people who have written the script and also deliver what the client needs. “Sometimes, creatives toil for months to come up with a script that a client finally approves. It is the director’s responsibility to respect the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into writing the script. “Every script is special and must not be treated like just another film the director will churn out in the month. And it should deliver bang for the client’s buck,” Goyal says.

The story and length of an ad film depends on the medium it is being created for. If it is for television, everyone looks for stories that mainly last for 15 to 30 seconds. If the ad is being created for the web, one can take the liberty and make longer films of even three minutes. Production usually takes at least one month, sometimes even more, depending on the script and length of the film.

Flexible work hours

“You should be an astute observer; try to imbibe the world around you. Best of directors source inspiration from real life. Look for people, idiosyncrasies in people, keep your eyes and ears open to soak in the real world around you. Remember, stories that are inspired from real life are the best told stories,” he advises.

One of the incentives about being a director is the flexibility of working hours. You can work at your own time. “Working with different people every day, different creatives, different agencies, different scripts is like telling a new story every day; it is a vibrant, dynamic and creatively satisfying profession,” says Goyal.

Ad filmmaker Nishant Goyal with Kareena Kapoor Khan, shooting for a skincare brand (Handout image)

“Be receptive to new ideas”:  Ad filmmaker Nishant Goyal

Ad filmmaker Nishant Goyal spoke to HT Education about the finer nuances of ad filmmaking and how it can be a good career option

In India, which sector banks heavily on ad filmmakers?

Every sector needs advertising, more so if it’s a sunrise sector. But specific to India, the current government has launched several schemes for social welfare, all of which need to be widely advertised so that enough awareness is created about them. Skill india and Access India are two examples. More than sector-specific advertising which benefits the middle class upwards, and which already exists, I feel social causes need more advertisers and ad filmmakers both.

What is the work schedule of an ad filmmaker at work?

An ad filmmaker usually has long hours during a production and relatively easier hours in between productions.

What is your biggest learning as an ad filmmaker?

The biggest takeaways for me, in my ad filmmaking career are: always be receptive to new ideas, irrespective of where they come from; and keep things simple.

All you need to know about a career as an ad filmmaker

Keep your eyes and ears open all the time, observe people - that is the only way you can make your stories come to life. (Handout image)

Lowdown: According to the India Brand Equity Foundation, India’s advertising industry is pegged to grow at a rate of 16.8% year-on-year to `51,365 crore (US$ 7.54 billion) in 2016, buoyed by positive industry sentiment and a strong GDP growth of 7% and above. The industry is in need of creative ad filmmakers who can tell stories in a crisp, gripping manner to be able to attract people to a brand.


1. Film and Television Institute of India, Pune

2. Xavier Institute Of Communications, Mumbai

3. Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata

4. Center for Research in Art of Film and Television, Delhi and more...

Eligibility: Any graduate with a passion for converting stories from print to film can become an ad filmmaker. It is a profession for creative people with an ability to learn on the job. After a diploma course in advertising after graduation in any discipline, you can pursue a certificate or diploma course in film, television and digital video production to gain experience in the domain.

Skills and traits:

  • Good observation skills
  • Good communication skills
  • A great listener
  • Highly creative
  • A good team player
  • Good knowledge of the market
  • Good research skills
India’s advertising sector is one of the fastest growing advertising markets in Asia. (HT Photo)

First Published: May 26, 2016 14:48 IST