Seasoned producers know that mistakes on a location shoot can be very costly and may very well cut into your profit. To avoid making costly errors, producers make sure they are prepared for their on-location shoots. Whether you’re shooting a corporate video, documenting an event, or making a film, there are things you must do before the shooting date.
The first one is to note down everything about the project, and we mean everything. Keep everything about the project in one place; say a small notebook each for every single project. This way you are assured that all the details you and your client talked about are there for you to refer to. Bring this notebook to every meeting. If you prefer taking things down electronically, make sure to organize your notes in one folder. You may also keep separate flash drives for every regular client.
When preparing for the shoot, keep a list of the things you need to do and people you need to contact for that day. Make sure to book your clients and crew way ahead of time, and inform them of their call time through a call sheet (is that what it’s called?). Make sure you have their confirmation on paper – this will avoid unpleasant incidents later on. You don’t want to be scrambling for a replacement talent the day before the shooting date because the talent did not receive the call sheet and has booked another shoot. Send the talents the scripts so they can study it before the shooting day, and brief your
crew about the project and about their specific roles so there won’t be any confusion on the day itself.
Also, secure location permits ahead of time. There are places that need weeks before they approve your request. If you have to pay to use the location, either include that in your budget or have your client take care of it. It depends on your deal with your client AND your forethought. See, before you did your budget, you should have done your homework such as asked the target location if they will charge you for the use of the venue.
Make sure that all the equipment you will be using are in good working order. You don’t want a busted bulb on the day of the shoot. It helps to keep a lot of extras for these sort of items – light bulbs, batteries, gels, etc. Test each equipment a few days before, make sure all the batteries for your camera are charged and have a separate checklist for all the equipment you will be bringing. Tick each item off as you load them into the vehicle and tick each one as you unload them at the location. (Then, repeat the process once the shoot is done.)
If possible, have all your props and wardrobe ready a few days before the shoot, too. That way, if something goes wrong, say, the prop didn’t turn out as you ordered, you have time to have it replaced. Make arrangements for the crew and talents’ food and drinks. Coordinate with your supplier about the menu. See to it that the food you will serve will be convenient for your people to eat while on location. Have your supplier guarantee the quality of the food. It must not spoil easily, it must be filling, and it must be delicious. You must also ask the people you will be working with for any dietary requirements they may have. If it is beyond your budget to provide them, advise them to do something about it beforehand so they can make their own arrangements. If you’re doing the shoot outdoors and it’s in the middle of summer, make sure you’re well-stocked with bottled water the entire day. You don’t want anyone getting sick, do you?
And speaking of getting sick, it would be highly recommended to have a first aid kit with you during the shoot. Just so you’re ready for anything. Even if it’s just an indoor shoot, you still need a first aid kit: aspirin for sudden headaches, pills for an upset stomach, etc.
You have to have some cash too, for emergencies and the like. Just make sure to jot down everything you spent on that day so you can keep track of the expenses. Once you’ve made ticked off everything on your checklist, go through it once more. Taking the time to do so may very well save you time and money and ensure that your shoot goes smoothly.
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