The key to a successful and hassle-free on-location shoot is being prepared. For instance, set aside a day or two prior to the shoot to survey your selected area. Check for potential hindrances. It’s best to do this well in advance and also as close to the shooting day as possible. You want to do it well in advance because it may be determined that the location is not ideal for the shoot and an alternate location may need to be sought. You also want to do it as close to the day of the shoot because external factors may have changed from when you originally decided on the location.
Some hindrances to a shoot can include undesirable noise in the area such as nearby work crews or heavy wind. Often we take for granted these noises and don’t notice how much they can impact the audio quality of a production. The same can happen if you are shooting indoors – things such as air conditioners or heaters can affect up your audio.
If you are shooting on-location where there will be crowds, you may wish to have someone dedicated to controlling the flow of people. You will also want to know the weather forecast if shooting outdoors – this not only will impact your production in an obvious way such as if it is raining, but it will also impact what lighting equipment to use and how much will be needed if it is an overcast day because this will affect the tone of your production.
Proper lighting will also be critical if you are shooting indoors. You often need more light than you would expect because our eyes and the camera do not operate the same way. It’s a good idea to set up the lights and discuss with the director if the proper effect is being captured.
If you think you will need props for your shoot, give ample time to either acquire them or build them. If you expect the production company to provide them, they will need you to be as specific as possible.
Keeping a checklist of the equipment, crew and talent required for the production is critical. The equipment should already be checked to ensure it is in good working order and back-up equipment is ideal to have on hand. Once on-location on the day of the shoot, the checklist should be reviewed and the equipment should be checked again.
It’s also a good idea to send a communication out to your talent and crew with a reminder of the details pertinent to the shoot (i.e. location, date, time) at least one day prior to the shoot.