Top 5 Tips for Preparing for a Successful Shoot

Top 5 Tips for Preparing for a Successful Shoot

If solo filmmaking is your cup of tea, preparation is key to success. You cannot possibly consider production without first preparing for a film shoot. We’ve put together these top 5 tips for preparing for a successful shoot to help you make the most of your production. Reduce the stress, and get read for success as we show you how to prepare for a film shoot.

Step 1. Take Time to Set Up As Much As Possible

The more prepared you are upfront, the greater your success will be as you film. If you’re filming a special event such as a wedding or child’s baptism, doing so requires a lot of preparedness upfront to ensure you get everything right. Taking the time before you arrive on location to prepare any equipment is a great idea!

Special moments at these types of events really can’t be reenacted–they must be captured when they occur. In order to ensure you’re prepared, try to arrive 90% ready to get started. This way you are not trying to assemble important equipment as guests are standing by.

If it’s not practical or safe for you to arrive ready to film, just do what you can in advance and then finish set on on scene. For instance, you may not be able to have all of your gear setup as it simply won’t fit with you on the drive. But, if you are operating a mirrorless or DSLR camera for the event, you could choose various cases that allow you to set the camera up ready to film prior to the event. Likewise, if you’re using a larger camera, transporting the fully assembled camera in a Porta Brace URSA Mini Bag or similar allows you to spend less time on location working on set up and more time capturing the candid moments of the special event.

If you find a bag that allows you to keep your camera mostly or full assembled and ready for use, without the need to carry multiple bags, you’ve hit the jackpot, especially for solo filmmaking. Carrying one bag, versus several, is almost always a welcomed blessing to solo filmmakers.

Step 2. Prepare & Don’t Wing It

Scout the location first, if possible, and prepare a plan for lighting and shots. The more time you can prepare upfront and avoid winging it, the greater the shoot will be. When working a feature set, you have the resources of gaffers and light techs to help you get everything just right. If you’re filming solo on location, you may not have these luxuries in place to assist. Taking the time in advance to set up and prepare as much as you can will ensure that you don’t have talent or others sitting around waiting on you.

If shooting an event, create a lighting diagram ahead of time or prepare to use the light that is readily available on location to your advantage. Either way, you must prepare and plan for the lighting. Likewise, you could build a set, light it, and create a digital storyboard to ensure you have everything you need in place when film time comes.

Step 3. Store and Label Equipment

Properly storing and labeling equipment, although time consuming, can make the difference in whether you have a successful solo shoot or not. Not only does proper labeling ensure that you can quickly and seamlessly grab everything you “might” need for the production, it also allows you to know exactly what’s inside each case and bag once you arrive on location.

You may think you’ll remember everything you packed, but once you have it all slammed into the trunk of the car, it becomes lost. Before you know it, you find yourself opening bag after bag as you seek one part that you easily could have found had you taking time to label your cases with colorful gaffer tape. You’ll be so happy that you took the extra few minutes to note that the big rucksack with yellow tape is carrying your lenses and the rucksack with purple take holds your camera accessories.

Labeling your equipment also ensures that you can properly stack it into the car without potentially damaging anything along the way.

Step 4. Prepare for the Unexpected-Bring Backup

Whether it’s a backup SD card or backup battery sources, if you take time out ahead to plan for the what if’s, you can prepare and prevent any mishaps from occurring during shoot day. For instance, you may want to prepare a checklist of film equipment to bring with you and review that list several times ahead of the shoot day. Make a list of the things you need to do, like charging batteries and packing certain lenses and camera accessories so that you can check, and double check that you have not only done the bare minimum, but also prepared backup just in case.

Step 5. Don’t Worry!

Now that you have taken the steps to prepare as much as you possibly can upfront, when it comes time for you to successfully shoot your film, try not to worry. These top 5 tips for preparing for a successful shoot will help you to better prepare for all the potential mishaps and troubles that could possibly occur leading up to the shoot. Take your time, get prepared, and don’t worry too much!

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