Dear 80s’ Baby: 1st Video Shoot Jitters
Hi I am a recent college grad with a degree in TV & film production. Two of my college buddies and I are shooting a short film in two weeks and I am not sure if we are ready. We finished the script and have chosen all of our locations, actors and props but I can’t help but to feel nervous because it is our first time shooting anything outside of our classroom without our teacher’s guidance. Do you have any advice for three virgins going on their first shoot?Thanks, Jamie R. Calumet City, IL
First off I think you have the right attitude by jumping right in and shooting movies right after graduating. What you will find about this industry is that landing a job fresh out of college is about as easy as winning the lottery. You need a strong resume reel before they will even give you the time of day. You should be proud of yourself for taking some initiative.
It’s good for you to be nervous going on your first shoot, it will keep you on your toes. Before long you will be a pro at video productions but for now never assume anything when it comes to preparing for a production. I have a golden rule that I live by, if it can go wrong it will. You want to stay ahead of the game by having all your ducks in a row and being prepared for anything.
One of the first things I would suggest is since you are working with a group, you must clearly define everyone’s roles and responsibilities. I have been on countless shoots where right before we begin taping I find out no one knows what the Hell they are suppose to be doing. Learn from my mistake and discuss what needs to be done and decide who will do it. Write it down and make sure everyone in the group is on the same page.
Next, read through your script and create a shooting schedule. It will save you a lot of trouble if you decide before hand where you will be shooting what scenes. Movies are almost never shot in script order so don’t feel bad about shooting out of script sequence.
My next piece of advice is very critical. In fact, it is just as critical as casting your talent. It’s location scouting. This is very important because you have to know exactly what to expect when you start shooting. Is it a private property or public place? Where is the nearest bathroom? Is there access to electricity? Do you need a permit to shoot at that location? Is the location secure? In case of bad weather, is there any nearby shelter? Is the location well lit? What about parking? These are just some of the questions you have to answer before choosing your locations.
The next thing you must prepare for is safety. Unless you have an excellent insurance policy that covers all of your crew and equipment, you will want to make safety precautions a priority. It is also a good idea to have your actors and crew sign a release form relieving you of any responsibility in the event of an injury. It sounds pretty cold but if an actor or crew member is injured during any part of the production you could be slapped with a lawsuit.
Another important tip is writing an equipment check list. Remember this, it is way better to have and not need then need and not have. This means take everything even if your scrip doesn’t call for it. Go over your check list repeatedly while you are packing and make sure that your hands touch every piece as you check each item off of your list. I would also suggest scheduling in some rehearsal time so on the day of the shoot everyone can hit the ground running.
And speaking of scheduling, time management is very important during any production. Look at it this way, time is money. Right now you are probably working with a small budget if one at all, but you should get in the habit of being conscience of how much time you spend on a production. I’m not encouraging you to cut corners but if you create a schedule, keep it. Eliminate unnecessary distractions that can eat up your time.
Ok I have just one more piece of advice for you. Try asking one of your teachers if they would be willing to just sit down with you and your two buddies to go over your production. They may notice something that three of you didn’t even consider. If you developed a good relationship with your teachers and kept in contact with them after graduation, then they may be willing to mentor you on your projects. Take note of their class schedules and request to meet with them during their downtime.
Jamie, I can go on forever about how to prepare for a production but I am willing to bet my last buck that I won’t be telling you anything you don’t already know from school. That is if you were paying attention all that time. Review your notes and textbooks. Between the three of you someone should remember something for God’s sake. And don’t forget practice makes perfect. Go through a couple of dry runs. And if you make some mistakes so what. As long as no one gets hurt its fine just learn from them.
One day, about 30 years from now you and your buddies will look back and laugh at how far the group has come.
The 80s’ Baby.