Preparing for a shoot

When it comes to a filming day, the last thing you need is realising you have forgotten to put the memory card in the camera whilst you’re on a location, in the middle of nowhere, with only trees by your side. Then you start asking yourself, ‘why didn’t I plan for this to happen?’ Hopefully by the end of this article, you wont have to ask that question again!

Here at Colonel Duck Productions we have had our fair share of filming days, and to help you avoid disasters like this, we’ve put together a preparation plan and split it up into easy to follow sections. But before we delve into list making, ahead of every shoot prep remind yourself of what you are trying to achieve and communicate it with your team. This will inform all of your decisions and help you come to sensible conclusions on what equipment you will need to achieve a certain style. Now on to the list making!

Firstly, create an equipment checklist. This list is immensely important, after all if you forget a piece of vital kit, you may not be able to do the shoot. Make sure you include absolutely everything you are going to need, from travel snacks to boom mics, and be specific, people may assume the tripod plate is with the tripod, but a lot of the time is actually left on cameras. Once you have the equipment list, assign groups of kit to an individual, for example, all of the sound equipment will be assigned to one crew member, whilst another would check all of the camera equipment. This way everyone will be double checking the list and it’s not just down to one person to load the car.

Example of equipment list

• • •

The second filming day list includes processes and procedures. As silly as it sounds, having information to refer to before rolling ensures that everything is turned on and primed to record. Don’t feel like you are being patronising when you write this list, after all it’s better to be safe than not capturing high quality media.

Example of procedures and processes list

• • •

Once both lists have been completed, it would be beneficial to talk through all points with the team. This way they can voice any concerns, questions and additions to the lists. It’s also gives you time to discuss travel arrangements and the aims of the shoot to establish an overall goal for the filming day, which should include what you are doing, and why you are doing it. For example to film a 5 minute interview to express Donald Trumps views on fake news. Reiterating the aim will help you prepare any other materials you need, such as a set of questions for an interview to make sure you are able to successfully achieve the aim you have set out.

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After you have completed your film day, take time to reflect and review as a team. Did everyone run their station efficiently to obtain a good result? Were there any areas you could improve on? The answer could be related to a technical practice i.e. learning how to place a boom mic to avoid picking up interference. Or it could be a team improvement to communicate better on location if there are issues with the equipment.

Also think about the areas where you may have exceeded your expectations, or demonstrated good practice.

Now you can create a document outlining what you have learned. This could identify something you did well and should carry on doing, something you could improve on, and something to stop doing to ensure a better project.

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