How to Overcome Challenges on shoots

Posted on: 15/09/2014

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Breakfast in a box

Many modern hotel chains no longer cook hot breakfasts and instead provide hungry travelers with ‘Breakfast Boxes’, containing things like cereal, yogurt and muffins. While this is still nice, most crews really want a hefty, hot breakfast to fuel up for a long shoot. Get up early, test your equipment and find a greasy spoon near the shoot location. You don’t want your stomach rumbling to be caught on the mic! Also, skip buying a coffee as most companies will offer you a cup first thing.

Interviewees being delayed

Sometimes our interviewees are held up, leaving gaps in our shooting schedule. If we’re given permission sometimes we will interview some people that we weren’t planning to. At W N Direct we interviewed some warehouse employees, who gave great interviews and a different perspective on the company.

Sometimes you’ll be able to film some stock footage, which you can use on another programme. Obviously get the clients permission first!

Sometimes we will use the opportunity to film a quick, short video to show to our followers on social media. For instance, we made a tribute to ‘Office Space’ recently, whilst at our client Linex. All good filmmakers should never miss an opportunity to produce new to help develop their skillset.

Nervous Interviewees

If I had a penny for every time I’ve seen a successful CEO get the jitters the moment the camera starts rolling- I’d be funding and directing my own feature films. Make the interviewee feel at ease to help prevent this. A good idea is to have your interviewer talk them through the interview, whilst the interview is being set up. Also try to limit the number of other people watching, as this can lead to stage fright. No one wants their boss watching them being interviewed.

Most of all, we don’t need poetry for answers but we do need coherence. So breaking down an answer into three simple sentences is a good way of coaxing a smooth but informative answer out.

Lack of cutaways

Some companies will not have the cutaway potential as others. A sales office will never look as dynamic as a factory floor, but there will also be visual nuggets to be mined. As filmmakers it’s your job to find them. Finally, get two camera angles on the interview so that long interviews can be made more dynamic and palatable to viewers.

Three to a room

In the line of duty for Collaborative Media we production crew often find ourselves three to a euphemistically described ‘family room’ in hotels across the UK. To ensure a harmonious production team you should adopt a strict rotational system for who chooses which bed. Stone, scissors, paper can turn into a contentious debacle as everyone operates slightly different rules.

Another tip is to make sure you hold the door key so you’re the first one in, and can immediately dump your gear onto the best bed.

Technical Problems

Very, very occasionally you can suffer a technical problem out of your control. In the eternal words of Douglas Adams, don’t panic. Try to make sure you always have a two or three person crew and carry enough equipment to give a backup option. You may need to adjust roles in the shoot to give the person with the misfiring equipment a useful role. If their tripod is on the fritz, get them to shoot the handheld footage. It’s important that there are no egos on shoots and you do whatever needs to be done to ensure the success of the shoot. Also plan the shoot beforehand and test your equipment to avoid any last minute problems.

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Written by Ken Plas