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Home » Unlocking the Secrets of Video Production: A Glimpse into Alex Di Marco’s Creative Process with A-List Clients

Unlocking the Secrets of Video Production: A Glimpse into Alex Di Marco’s Creative Process with A-List Clients

    Clients like Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, and Disney grace the portfolio of the visionary director, Alex Di Marco. In this blog post, we delve into the essential aspects of his careful preparation or let’s say pre-production, for these high-profile productions. Drawing insights from his appearance at Cinesummit, Alex Di Marco unveils the secrets behind successfully conveying his artistic vision to renowned artists like Wiz Khalifa and many others. Join us on this inspiring journey as we explore the art of explaining one’s vision and discover how Alex stands out in the competitive world of video production. (Disclaimer: We have no commercial affiliations with either party, but we are ardent admirers of their work.)

    Master pre-production


    Practical preparation

    Treatment is a way to communicate your vision to the artist/client/producer. This can be used to land the job or to better understand what the project will look like, what will be done, and what approach will be chosen.
    There are so many moving pieces when it comes to video production, so treatment will help you demonstrate your project.



    We will start with Lookbook which is basically a collage of pictures that had a mood that you would like to create.
    This is the most visual part of the treatment.
    – Alex gave an example to the audience for a better understanding of his process.
    “Let’s say that Wiz Khalifa Is thinking about making a video with me (Alex Di Marco). And Wiz wanna this video to resemble Scarface or a movie takes place in the 80s and this is all of the notes he giving you.
    I’m then going to make a Look Book, which is pulling images from photo banks (more about where you can find photos here) and putting them together in a nice collage to give that “visual aesthetic” and show it to the Wiz or the client.”
    Alex says that he trying to keep the lookbook as much accurate as possible to the final product/feel. But there are cases where you can use more abstract pictures, for example when you working on a commercial and the agency wants the video to feel cool, so you have to go find photos that have a bunch of gradient of blue and cold colors. This is a good way to create a feel, of course, you will not shoot a gradient but the agency will get it.
    Video Production lookbook
    Wes Andersons lookbook
    The lookbook is your way of effectively communicating your visual idea for a project/client.
    – Alex uses a lookbook for the overall look of the video but there are instances where there are multiple sequences or scenes and in this case, he creates a lookbook for each one of the scenes.
    Don’t forget to use HIGH-QUALITY IMAGES


    This could be the first point of the treatment.
    This is the importance of describing an overall feel.
    Now it is time to describe to your clients what you plan to accomplish in as few words as possible. Giving the client and crew a general feel for what you plan to do visually.
    Alex likes to make a whole section about aesthetics in his treatments. A lot of times he starts with the lookbook because people are visual animals so he likes to hook the client with the images first and after that, they come to overall aesthetics.
    In the overall aesthetic Alex talks about what this project means to him on an emotional artistic level because that is very important to communicate that passionate edge he feels to the project.
    For example, I feel “this way” about the 1980s gangsters scene, I feel like it could closely resemble “this that, and that…”. You can even include some movie references.
    On set life
    Still from the Wiz Khalifa – “The Plan” ft. Juicy J, Music Video, directed by Alex Di Marco
    In this step, Alex tries to give as much information as possible about what the final product will look and feels like to the client.
    This gives your client the chance to go inside your head and see what the approach will be like when executing the project.
    If you miss out on the aesthetic you leaving your client in the dark, to come up with their own conclusions. You taking away from explaining 100 percent of your vision.
    You explain your personal attachment and your personal approach.


    The importance of technical talk.
    It’s incredibly important to talk about technical approaches to help clients understand, in the few words possible, what you plan to do.
    For example, we will shoot this music video in ultra 4k resolution (almost 4x higher than HD). If you just said 4k, most people would think you are talking about 4 000 dollars…
    Talk about the camera you want to use and why you want to use this camera.
    Why you are using these certain lenses, are you sticking with longer or wider lenses, what does this say about the project, and how is that help interpret the end looking feel?
    Talk about editing techniques. Rhythm, is it gonna be fast-paced or slower-paced? Are there gonna be faster cuts or any cuts? Is it gonna be one take? If it’s one take, why and how is that help the end looking feel?
    You can also talk about lighting, high key, and low key. Don’t be too specific.
    -“If you wanna skip this step you run the risk of being on set and maybe things not going all that well or you are a little bit behind the time, remember, you as a filmmaker knows how to get out of these problems but clients gonna looks at what is in front of them.”
    Like, “Ou, we are behind time, is it the camera? I was told by a buddy that we could use this camera or that camera, or is it because of lighting?”. So your client is kinda left in the dark and they will come up with their conclusions, about why things on set not running as smoothly as they could.
    Explaining your technical approach helps your client be in the know from the outside of what you technically plan to do and how you technically plan to execute the video.

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    In this Free 99 pages PDF file, you will find:
    ✔️  Camera Settings
    ✔️  Lighting
    ✔️  Directing
    ✔️  Post-Production
    ✔️  Website & online presence
    ✔️  and more

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    Example of Alex Di Marco’s treatment for LAUV “I Like Me Better”


    The first line is to communicate your feelings.
    Already Alex painting the picture of how he wants to capture his feeling about this music.
    He used the blue rose design of the album art cover as the reference for the production design which was used in the apartment scene.
    It’s like, here is Alexis’s side of personal attachment and there are clients’ attachments (album cover) so let’s mix it up to the overall approach.
    Now both sides can move through treatment together.
    The worst thing to do is act like “I am a director and let’s do it my way”.

    Technical Approach

    The first sentence is about the cameras and the resolution.
    Alex makes a case in this approach about using DSLR cameras because of the many locations and run & gun style of shooting. He trying to convince the client that it’s a good idea to stick with small cameras.
    Clients usually know about RED cameras, its popular name and they often wanna shoot on the RED without knowing there are also technical limitations. So this is the way he wants to explain why he would like to use DSLR cameras.
    If the client spends 20K $ on a music video production and the production shows up with a camera that’s the size of your wallet, it’s gonna raised questions.
    That’s why you wanna be clear in your treatment about which camera you will be using.

    Talk About Toys

    Create value for yourself, the client, and production.
    Jibs, dollys, drones, steady cams, things of that nature. Alex always includes this in the treatments.
    A lot of times clients wanna stand out and they are willing to pay for these extra toys that other filmmakers aren’t utilizing to give them a unique visual advantage.
    In this treatment for the “I Like Me Better” music video, Alex implements Talk About Toys into a Technical Approach.
    “We will use a small range of film tools such as car mounts, steady rigs, 4k areal drones, and jib to ensure a great look”
    This helps when you talk about budgets with clients. It also helps to show your client that you are in the know of what film tools to utilize to get them the unique visual advantage.

    Color Pallets

    This is a nice visual way to tie together, under a color scheme, overlooking feel.
    In this treatment, Alex took three stills from three different movies and included color pallets for each of those scenes underneath them.
    All three of them fall into one overall color pallet which we used in this video.
    Pre-production collor palette
    Examples of color palette by Ridley Scott
    Going through all of this in the treatment with a client gives them a much better view of the end product, what you plan to do, and how you plan to get there.
    Treatments are good references, it’s not only for the client and yourself, you wanna send it to your producer, your DP, and pretty much everyone on your team should see this treatment.
    This will get your team on the same page and ultimately that’s gonna get you a better product in the end every time because you communicating from the outset. You bring people on from the very beginning of video production.
    In some cases, you wanna be more specific on treatment.
    For example, Alex in the “I Like Me Better” treatment has a breakdown of the song and what is happening at certain moments of the song.
    Great advice from Alex:
    He often creates a treatment and sends it to potential clients. A lot of time he didn’t land the job and spent a lot of time doing these treatments but what you ended up getting is a person’s respect as far as your professionalism because they have seen how much time and detail and focus you put into these treatments. In these treatments, you maybe not catch the vision for that product, and the clients will come back to you again and again and asks for treatments for other products and projects.
    Doing a good treatment is a win/win for you even if you don’t land a job. You communicating to your potential client that you are professional and serious and you are willing to put in that work even on speculation. That speaks volumes to you as a professional filmmaker!

    Creating Overheads 

    This is a more personal approach to Alex about directing and communicating the vision to a team.
    A lot of people like to storyboard but Alex is not one of them.
    This is more to communicate with the production team not so much with the client.
    Overheads are just blueprints for your scenes. Alex draws lighting, camera movement, and talent movement from the top view.
    Overhead created in Shot Designer app

    Lighting Plan 

    – Tools to help effectively communicate with your DP & Gaffers where your lights are going. It’s not just showing up on set and talking to the DP and figuring it out the first time while you are on the location. It’s, you have been to the location, you understand the size of the location and you already mapping where your light is gonna go.
    – Great example from Alex’s shoot “I Like Me Better” video, when they were shooting at the park location, finishing the scene at the park, the gaffer and rest of the crew were setting the lights on another location so after park location Alex and the band could walk into next location where lights were already set up and ready to shoot. If he would not create overheads, the gaffer would pretty much be waiting or guessing which could even be worst because when the lighting would be way off of what Alex had in mind they would have to rebuild the hole set up and that takes a lot of time.
    – Of you limiting confusion, you limiting the stress on the set, it’s a win-win.
    – Best case scenario is to go to the location with your DP & Gaffer and set up your overheads and start talking shots, do the overheads with them.

    Camera Blocking 

    Camera movement and picture framing.
    – Communicating the camera directly to your team. Create more organization with block shooting.
    – This help in a big way because you know from the overheads which way the camera is facing in all of your shots. Now you know which part of the set you need to clear out or which shoots will be better to do first and then change the set. Therefore you limit the time between people having to move back and forth and turn the camera around a bunch of different times.
    – You buy yourself more time by being organized and communicating your organization to your team.

    Talent Blocking 

    – Helping your talent and crew understand positioning ahead of time.
    Through planning and preparation, you can find new shooting strategies.
    – You can find out new ways to shoot the scene because of the overheads.
    – When you doing a treatment you slowly become a master of explaining your vision.
    – You create videos for two audiences, first is your client and crew, so you have to make them excited about the treatment and the second one is the classic film audience.
    – Let’s put yourself into the shoes of the client who spending a lot of money on production. You want to see what colors, scenes, and techniques will be used…
    – Especially when you are starting your filmmaking journey, treatments will separate you from your competition. Smaller clients are not used to seeing treatments at all and you can blow their minds off with this kind of preparation.
    In our eyes, in our mind, treatment is the blueprint for your production. Without it, you, your crew, and the client will be “blind” on the set, and believe us, the final result will not be as good as it could be.

    Become a Filmmaker FREE eBook

    In this Free 99 pages PDF file, you will find:
    ✔️  Camera Settings
    ✔️  Lighting
    ✔️  Directing
    ✔️  Post-Production
    ✔️  Website & online presence
    ✔️  and more

    Become a filmmaker eBook