The Best Tips & Tricks To Prepare For Your Film Shoot

Advice From Industry Practitioners

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve forgotten something. Especially when I get busy I notice myself sitting contemplatively at small intervals across a day trying to remember what it is that I’ve forgotten to do. Because surely with a to do list as long as my arm that can’t possibly be it right?

When it comes to directing a film normally you have large crews of people helping to take care of the to do list with you. But if you are making your first film it could be that it’s just you or a small handful of volunteer crew members looking after everything, which can often lead to hiccups along your production journey. Some you might not even notice until its too late.

So to try and help minimise the chance of forgetting something I’ve collated a bunch of tips and ticks from those with experience in making films to share with you.

You Can Skimp On Everything But Your Soundie

We mentioned this briefly in our 5 Must have Pieces of Gear article a little while back. Sound is one of the most important aspects of your film and its often the most overlooked when it comes to new filmmakers. I have been given the advice directly by those working in the industry that you can get every other crew member for free, but should pay for a good sound recordist because it will be worth it when it comes to the final product.

If you are thinking of entering your film into festivals good sound will also go a long way in distinguishing your film from those who didn’t take the time to make sure they paid their soundie. When it comes to sound there is only so much you can do to fix it in post and you may require more time doing ADR (additional dialogue recording) if its not right from the start.

Shoot More Than You Think You Need

This doesn’t mean do 50 takes of the same shot. What this means is coverage. Make sure you are filming a scene from every angle, overlapping action so can cut it together seamlessly and are giving yourself options if what you had in mind doesn’t work. It’s also good advice to plan as much as possible before getting on set. What are the priorities? The main shots that you need to get no matter what. Then schedule it all out with time for resetting in between. I have fallen prey to the not enough coverage mistake myself and for small productions it can be almost impossible to go back and get pickups. So make sure you are getting everything you need in the can on the day and that its a part of the schedule so you don’t go overtime.

Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

This can be crucial to saving time when everyone finally comes together on set. If you are a small production chances are your actors are working with you for free or a very small amount. Regardless, having a day to go through the scenes with them before the rest of the crew comes together will make sure you get the most out of their performance and won’t waste precious shooting time on the day.

Feed The Masses

In my experience, in and outside of the film world, I have found that most people love free food. Therefore most people would probably be willing to help you on set for free as long as you feed them. If you are making a budget for your shoot day I would 100% include lunch and snacks for your cast and crew. It will still work out cheaper than paying everyone and will keep the morale high across the day.

Another tip I have picked up from being on sets is that the Crew eat first. They will often have been then earlier than everyone else and doing constant setups and pack downs every few shots can get pretty tiring. If you implement any rules on your set it would be crew eats first.

Don’t Fix It In Post

It’s become a bit of a running joke the old “fix it in post” gag, but ultimately that is where you want to do the smallest amount of fixing. Especially for a small production you won’t have the post budget that a lot of big features do and getting your final mix to a professional standard is going to cost you. If you can edit the film together yourself than great, but discovering mistakes at this point in the process can take up large amounts of time, and potentially money, to fix.

The key is to plan as much as you can before you even whip out a camera. Make sure you are thinking about the specs of your camera and how this will translate in the editing room as well. Don’t take all day, but if the light isn’t quite right on a shot try and fix it there and then before someone shouts out “fix it in post.” It’s all about trying to be as planned as possible and getting on top of mistakes in the present moment. Trust me, future you will be thankful.

Create Your Boundaries and Set the Culture

I have witnessed bad set culture firsthand a few times and honestly it can either make or break a shoot. From the start you want to be thinking about who you are working with. If you have the option to be picky and hand select your team then great. Often you will need to grab volunteers or whoever is available for that day. In this case you need to set your boundaries and let them know how the set is going to work. If you are the director, make that known. I’m not saying you need to run the set like a dictatorship it’s just important for everyone to know how to communicate with each other and who has final say on certain decisions. Is it the producer, director, or 1st AD? Cement your set culture so everyone can collaborate, create a great film, and have fun doing it. That’s why we’re in the business right?

Have One Less Thing To Worry About

Getting your period right when a shoot is about to start can be that one extra thing you didn’t want to have to worry about. However with Modibodi period proof underwear there’s no constant trips to the bathroom to change your tampon/pad so you can stay focused on the current shot and remain present in the moment to fix all those mistakes that aren’t going to post.

They are stylish, better for the environment, and come in a range of flow levels from light to heavy/overnight. Modibodi also offers a 30 night free trail to test them out if you are still unsure. Head over to their website and check out the designs for yourself.

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