Once all of the aspects of pre-production have been completed, it is time to move into principal photography. This is where the actual filming begins. Every set, every project, and every crew works in different ways, but there are some important aspects of a production day that you need to take into consideration.
A full day of production consists of anywhere from ten hours to eighteen hours. SAG has certain limitations for workers as well as payment for overtime, so it is important to plan your days accordingly to get the necessary footage in the amount of time you have to film. The day starts with set-up. This consists setting up the camera, the lighting, and the sets. This also includes preparing the on-screen talent in make up as well as any last rehearsals. Once everything is ready, it is time to film.
On set, there are many different roles that the crew plays.
The Producer is involved throughout all phases of the film making process from development to completion of a project. The producer initiates, coordinates, supervises, and controls matters such as fund raising, hiring key personnel, and arranging for distributors.
The Director is responsible for overseeing the creative aspects of a film, including controlling the content and flow of the film’s plot, directing the performances of actors, organizing and selecting the locations in which the film will be shot, and managing technical details such as the positioning of cameras, the use of lighting, and the timing and content of the film’s soundtrack.
The Camera Operator uses the camera at the direction of the Cinematographer, Director of Photography, or the Film Director to capture the scenes on film or video. The First Assistant Camera, 1st AC or focus puller, is responsible for keeping the camera in focus as it is shooting. The 2nd AC operates the clapperboard at the beginning of each take.
The Production Sound Mixer is head of the sound department on set, responsible for recording all sound during filming. The Boom Operator is an assistant to the production sound mixer, responsible for microphone placement and movement during filming.
The Director of Photography, DoP or DP, is the chief of the camera and lighting crew of the film. The DoP makes decisions on lighting and framing of shots in conjunction with the film’s director. Typically, the director tells the DoP how he or she wants a shot to look, and the DoP chooses the correct lens, filter, lighting and composition to achieve the desired aesthetic effect.
Grips are trained lighting and rigging technicians. Their main responsibility is to work closely with the electrical department to put in the non-electrical components of lighting set-ups required for a shot, such as flags, overheads, and bounces.
The Set Decorator is in charge of the decorating of a film set, which includes the furnishings and all the other objects that will be seen in the film. They work closely with the Production Designer and Coordinator and work with the Art Director.
The Costume Designer is responsible for designing, planning, and organizing the construction of the garments down to the fabric, colors, and sizes. The costume designer works closely with the director to understand and interpret “character”, and counsels with the production designer to achieve an overall tone of the film. In large productions, the costume designer will usually have one or more assistant costume designers.
Each of these people work simultaneously to capture the necessary footage. Each crew and production will have a different number of people for each role depending on their needs.
Productions will take anything from a half-day, if you are getting some pick-up shots, or upwards of months, depending on the scope and budget of the film. Some film even take years of production to finally get all of the footage they need. The most important aspect of being in principal photography is always being ahead of the game. Each person needs to be prepared for any situation that could arise, because one small problem can set up an entire production.
Pixel Productions’ next article about how to produce a film will discuss the intricacies of post-production.