March 13, 2017 Richard

3 Tips to Maximizing Your Shoot Days

You pay for the lights, you put in a request for caterers, you secure locations, you go through the almost impossible task of making sure all your cast and crew shows up on the same day so you can have a few hours of actual production.  There is the idea of covering your ends so you don’t have to dare do the dreaded re-shoots but I’d like to offer a further notion and suggest ways to bulk up the amount of content produced on shoot days to maximize productivity and avoid the difficulties of rescheduling another shoot day.

  1. Use Multiple Cameras – Find a location large enough to angle more cameras than usual.  Remember you will have to set up lighting for each angle and that requires more room.  You need them to be comfortable and at least one of your camera operators should not be stationary.  Allow at least one camera operator to flow through the set; not exactly freely but in a plotted line of movement.  A good way to do this is to mark the floor with tape like a yellow brick road so they have a path to glide in unseen by the other cameras and close up to the action and then pull away back to an outside view.  Choreographic this dance is common on sets and rarely is the ground filmed thus there is often tape marking positions for actors and camera operators.  With this extra footage your editors have much more to work with and reusing particular parts of scenes is not always redundant but sometimes favorable for viewers.  Not all viewers will watch all the videos you create so a lot of times this will hardly be noticed.
  2. Stagger Your Scheduling – Not everyone needs to take a break at the same time.  Your wardrobe and makeup departments will often be the first to arrive in the morning and others will pour in afterwards.  Schedule meal breaks and rest periods throughout the day.  This is a benefit that extends beyond maximizing the footage and allows crew to get their food more quickly and be much more at peace when not on duty.  You are not thinking of the entire crew as a congruent unit but as piece on a chess board that move one at a time throughout yet in a focussed system to achieve one goal.  Only one piece will capture the king but many others will play defense and some are just used for distraction.
  3. Prepare Multiple Scripts  I can’t stress this part enough.  So many times do writers think of things that they should have added once the whole shebang is done.  Write down the various ways to say the same thing and get it all filmed with take after take.  Prepare all the material you can and just get it filmed.  Most of the filmed footage from sets is discarded to create the final project but the more the editors have to work with the more possibilities.

This can be a risky tactic if you have to rely on multiple on-camera talents so make sure to cast responsible actors and double check on their health status and transportation throughout the week.  Most of the time your crew will be iron-clad troopers determined to stay long hours and get things done.  Your editors might require more time to sort through the footage but it is still way cheaper and less stressful than organizing a re-shoot.

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