Production Insight: Gavin Schneider

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Louis Vuitton, Photographer Annie Leibovitz, Courtesy Gavin Schneider Productions

Gavin Schneider Productions have been providing production assistance to clients for nearly two decades. From locations to models, from shipping to catering, Schneider’s expertise and the Cape Town light has attracted clients from all over the world. He reveals to IMSO what makes a great production, where to spend your money on a shoot, and some unusual client requests

IMSO: What was your professional background before starting your Production Services company and what inspired you to set it up?

Gavin Schneider: After studying and receiving a diploma in Marketing & Tourism, I decided to continue with my passion for photography.   I was an amateur portrait & lifestyle photographer and was fortunate to be given the opportunity to production manage and photo assist many top international photographers through a few production companies in Cape Town in the early 1990s.  I  had the opportunity to assist Fashion Photographer, Peter Lindbergh full time in Paris which I turned down to pursue my zest for production & to promote Cape Town as a location for all international shoots.

IMSO: What are the 5 key things to remember for a successful production?

Gavin Schneider: Personal Service. Understanding the clients brief, storyboard & concept. Budget Control. Experienced Crew on set. Office support with experience coordination & administrative staff

Theewaters, Courtesy Gavin Schneider Productions

IMSO: Is there a difference between producing stock and advertising?

Gavin Schneider: Yes – producing stock library imagery is far more demanding with the number of images that need to be produced these days for the library to ensure a good return on their investment.  One requires a variety of images of different styles of wardrobe,  models,  props,  locations to be utilised to achieve a variety of images.

Advertising is being produced on tight budgets these days, with fewer images & specific briefs.

Where should you spend most of your money within a production?

Gavin Schneider: Models & Locations

IMSO: What is your most inspiring Cape Town location?

Gavin Schneider: There are so many that come to mind however if I have to choose,  it would be – Atlantis Dunes at sunrise and Clifton Beach at Sunset

Atlantis Dunes Location, Courtesy Gavin Schneider Productions

IMSO: On your site you show a very good-looking campaign you recently produced for Ellesse. I’m curious, they are a UK company, why Cape Town?

Gavin Schneider: Cape Town offers a wide range of locations with different styles of architecture.  The Ellesse brief was specific to Italian Country Club for young,  cool, sporty people to frequent.  Gavin Schneider Productions presented a variety of possible locations convincing the client to produce the Ellesse campaign in Cape Town,  which was perfect for the brand.  In addition the production was cost effective and the weather is perfect during summer season, October – April.  We have an extensive database of locations & scout continuously to ensure we are a leading production house.

IMSO: Does Cape Town have the resources to create images that are internationally relevant?

Gavin Schneider: Cape Town offers white sandy beaches, forests, mountains & lagoons. We have ultra-modern, state of the art private house locations.  In addition, we have classical, eclectic, retro & many other styles of architecture which can depict any country in the world.  We have a variety of international & local models in all ethnic groups available to our clients.  Cape Town has incredible lighting & digital  support, as well as world class set builders and established prop houses who supply the industry

IMSO: What makes a great model?

Gavin Schneider: Attitude, Professionalism, personality and mainly “the look”.

Vogue Brazil, Courtesy Gavin Schneider Productions

IMSO: Sometimes a model looks fantastic in their book but it doesn’t translate on the shoot day – what advice would you give when casting?

Gavin Schneider: The model needs to ooze confidence and sell herself to the client when viewing their portfolio.

IMSO: What is the best way for the photographer to brief everyone involved in the production? (make-up, stylist, lighting asst etc.)

Gavin Schneider: To explain mood boards, with reference pics & the storyboard of what needs to be created.

IMSO: What makes a great photographer?

Gavin Schneider: Passion with a creative flair. Understanding the client brief & have a good disposition.

IMSO: What percentage of clients are shooting stills and motion alongside each other?

Gavin Schneider: Almost all our shoots now include motion, the added advantage for online & in-store POS / Trade shows.  The consumer expects to see  motion which is becoming very appealing in promoting a brand.

Kraal Bay Location, Courtesy Gavin Schneider Productions

IMSO: The company has been running for nearly two decades, a period which has seen a revolution in photography. Has there been a change in the kinds of requests from clients between then and now?

Gavin Schneider: With the transition from film to digital clients are viewing images immediately on set, it has become incredibly streamlined in the world of high tech development.  The client can access the images from anywhere in the world whilst the shoot is happening.  We have kept pace with technology to maintain a successful production.

IMSO: Have there been any particularly unusual client requests?

Gavin Schneider: We recently produced a shot of  “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius for the London 2012 Paralympics for GQ – USA.  The client requested, if it would be possible, to capture a shot with a cheetah running alongside Oscar through a safari nature reserve!!

For more info on Gavin Schneider Productions

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