Step 3; Production – Shooting the video.
Obviously, this is a critical step; without good video, your project will be on life-support. This is where you will start to see the greatest value of good pre-production. By having a good plan and sticking to it before you start shooting, you might be surprised how well the shoot goes! Here are a few things to keep in mind on the shoot day:
Get to the location EARLY! Unless you’re in some weird alternate universe where time stands still, you need to be ready to maximize your time. In my current project, we were given permission to shoot in the halls of a local high school; Two days, with a window of 4:15pm to 5:45pm… not exactly the best way to have to work, but we took what we could get. This meant that I had my gear together and was at the school no later than 4:00 so that we could get started as soon as the vice-principal would allow us to get going.
Get everyone on the same page: Get your whole cast and crew together and let everyone know what the expectations are for the day/time. Remember, you’re a director, not a dictator; you’ll get people to do what you want by building their trust in you to run things well. I highly recommend that you take this opportunity to pray; offer the time and the project to God and ask him to help make things go smoothly and effectively. Finally, have fun! It’s OK to enjoy the work you’re doing and your cast/crew will be more at ease when you’re not stressed out!
The first day of our shoot, I called my actors together. These were four kids from our student ministry who had next-to-no-idea what were about to do. I thanked them for their willingness to dive into this project and let them know that we would be on a very tight schedule for the next 90 minutes. I mentioned that it might not be a good idea for me to pray in a public school, but before I could even finish saying it, one of the students said, “That’s OK, I’ll do it!” She prayed and off we went!
Keep things moving. This is another example of leaning heavily on the prep work that you have done. Keep checking things off your shot sheet. This will keep you on task and making the most of the time that you have. It’s also a way to honor the time of the other people that are involved.
This was so important on both of our shoot days! We didn’t have any time to stand around; we just had to keep moving on to the next shot or sequence. I did a series of group shots with all four kids and then a set of singles with each of them. We had such a good time with it that when we finished, the kids were disappointed that it was over. Call that a win!
Continuity. I could probably do a whole post on the importance of good continuity… maybe another time. Start the editing process in your head. As you change angles in any scene, be sure that the sequence of shots will make sense when you get into the edit. If you don’t keep track of things when you’re shooting, you’ll end up with a headache in post.
Extra footage. While it’s important to stick to your shot sheet, don’t miss opportunities to get other shots that you hadn’t thought of while you’re on location. There will be times that your extra shots or other b-roll will save some serious frustration later!
Idiot check. When you’re done shooting, make sure that you have everything you came in with; leaving any of your gear behind, sucks! While you’re on location, you will usually have to move or rearrange things; make sure you put things back the way you found them.
Being productive when you’re in production is a rhythm that you will get better at the more that you do it. There will be challenges that you didn’t foresee, there will be limitations that you will have to work through, and you will have to do a lot of thinking on your feet. Be focused and flexible and you will get there.