Filming on location can be exciting but also a highly stressful situation. Trying to run an efficient production can be twice as difficult outside of a studio against the elements. As filmmakers know there’s a chance plans will go awry, so being as prepared as you can will benefit you overall production days. From knowing what equipment to bring, to assigning the crew here are some tips to help get you through an on location production.
Traveling light is ideal on production, however it isn’t always possible. Keeping your list of equipment to what is absolutely necessary will help from having to lug around loads of equipment to different locations. Your equipment list should include:
- Camera + Lenses
- Batteries + Charger
- Storage Cards
- Communication Units aka Walkie Talkies
- A small lighting kit ex: 1 x 1 LED light kit
- Audio Recorder + Spare Batteries
- Shotgun Mic
- Boom Pole
- 2 Radio Mics / Receivers + Spare Batteries
- XLR Cable + Backup XLR
Even with this list of core items there is already a ton of equipment to carry around. You wont regret being selective with the equipment you decide to bring.
Having the right crew members can really make or break a production. There isn’t an exact recipe to creating the ideal skeleton crew, but its crucial to have all of your bases covered. Having a Director of Photography that knows your vision, allows you to spend more time with actors and less time worrying about set ups and lighting. A sound engineer that specializes in field recording is easily one of the most important people on set. Sound is 50% of your film, so invest in someone who will give you quality work. Having Gaffers or Grips will aid on your production considerably. If you hire someone who is knowledgeable, skilled, and quick it can save you time and stress during set up. With a minimal crew, everyone on set plays many different roles and all crew members, plus the director, must take on PA duties occasionally throughout the production. With that said having dedicated Production assistants is still critical to keep things operating well on set.
Knowing your location can help you decide how to conduct your filming strategy. When scouting get as much information about the location as possible, also build a relationship with the host. Ask the owner questions such as, “When’s the earliest we can get there and the latest we can stay?” or “What does our crew/talent have access to? (Restrooms, areas to eat, etc).” Be accommodating to the owner, if you’re willing to work with them, they’ll be more willing to help you out. If possible beforehand, ask permission to do a run through of the setup, and go over location aspects with the production team so everyone’s on the same page, it makes everything run smoother and more proficiently during production days. Always remember to leave the location better than you found it, it will give a better chance for future filmmakers to utilize these locations.