Prepare for the Worst

One thing that many people who work in film/television know is that nothing ever goes perfectly. It doesn’t really matter how often you get told this. It’s something that you really don’t feel the full gravity of until you’ve experienced it yourself.

Still I’m going to take this opportunity to write about it. My experience has definitely made me prepare for shoots a lot more than I would have previously, and hopefully this will help readers prepare more for their own.

During my first short film, a student project in my film production class, we were heading for a location shoot approximately 30 minutes from campus. When we got to the site, it was revealed that the Assistant Director had forgotten tapes for the cameras. Our professor was kind enough to drive all the way back to campus and pick up tapes for us (as well as batteries just in case because you never know at that point). It took away an hour of shoot time for us, and definitely set us back in production.

Always make sure that you have batteries charged for your cameras, and if possible bring back ups and maybe back ups for your back ups. Don’t forget the tapes or SD Cards or P2 Cards or whatever you’re using. That’s imperative. Also, keep in mind how much space you need because video takes up a lot of space. Keep a list of some sort and check it over the night before your shoot to make sure you aren’t forgetting any essential equipment or props.

Another good thing to do in order to prepare for your shoots is to view the location beforehand. Director, director of photography, storyboard artist, or whatever people are in control of planning the shots and actor blocking for your project definitely need to know what the location looks like. Guesswork just lands you in hot water on the day of the shoot when things don’t work right.

I often find myself working as a storyboard artist for the projects I’m a part of. I remember this one time I was creating the storyboard for a scene at a location that I had never been to before. I was working with people who had been there before, but they hadn’t seen the location in a long time. The storyboard was finished, and they took it with them to the shoot, but none of the shots worked. The location was much smaller than what they remembered, so the storyboard was thrown out the window and the director and director of photography had to start a plan from scratch.

That isn’t the only time that not seeing the location prior to a shoot interfered with the actual shoot day. Sizes are much different than you remember when you haven’t been to the location in a while. Sometimes you remember the location, but there are only certain hours when it’s open to the public or the public isn’t allowed there at all. It’s much better to figure this stuff out ahead of time rather than when everyone shows up with cameras and actors on the day.

I’m sure there are plenty more tips I could give, but as of right now they aren’t coming to me. As I mentioned before, knowing this comes with experience. Even reading tips like this won’t protect you from the possibility of things going very wrong on the day of your film or photo shoot. I’m hoping this will help you be just a bit more prepared.


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