Shooting On Location: the Dos and Don’ts

Shooting On Location: the Dos and Don’ts

There’s a thrill about shooting on location, but the logistics can be difficult to get right and there’s a lot to think about! Here’s some simple dos and don’ts to get you started when shooting out on location.

DOs

DO carry a copy of your Public Liability Insurance certificate with you, no matter what you’re shooting or how you’re shooting it. You could be asked to present it at any time. I like to carry a folder which has my insurance certificates, risk assessments and other important safety information on but if this isn’t your style then have a copy on your phone.

DO make appropriate provisions to safely dispose of litter – especially cigarettes! The latter is something frequently overlooked, especially be filmmakers who don’t smoke. Cigarette ends cannot be disposed of in plastic waste sacks and must never be left on site. A small metal bucket will do.

DO thank the location owners afterwards. This is a courtesy that costs nothing and will go along way. I like to buy a card and small box of chocolates for people who have helped a film come to life. You can even allow for this in your budget by creating an account or line-item for gratuities. You’ll also be doing a great job of representing our industry and help other filmmakers use fab locations!

DO think about your cast and crew when planning a location shoot, even if you’ve only for 4 or 5 people with you. Where can they use a toilet? Where can they find shelter if it’s too hot, too cold, or too wet? Where can they sit down and eat? Where can they park their cars or keep their personal belongings? Remember, filmmaking is seldom as simple as getting a camera and shooting something; as a producer, everything becomes your responsibility.

DO have a plan B. Unlike shooting in a studio where you can control every aspect, location shooting presents many variables that are completely out of your control. Recces are great opportunities to start planning shots and deciding where exactly your set will be, but you must also decide what to do if that set or those shots suddenly won’t work when you turn up to shoot.

DON’Ts

DON’T shoot anywhere without Public Liability Insurance. Even if you’re doing run-and-gun or guerrilla filmmaking or you’re not using any fancy equipment, if somebody gets hurt or something gets damaged the compensation will be coming out of your pocket unless you’re appropriately covered.

DON’T leave car engines, generators or lights running unnecessarily – or anything else that could cause public nuisance. Not only will leaving everything switched on cost an awful lot of money and increase your production’s carbon footprint, you’ll drive the public, neighbours, location-users and pretty much anyone else in the vicinity mad and they won’t be so welcoming to future film projects.

DON’T use megaphones and PA equipment unless you really have to. Film sets draw enough attention to themselves as it is, and you must always be respectful of neighbours and those near your location, plus the use of loud communication equipment will end up giving you and your crew a headache, too. Try to use a walkie with headsets to communicate across the set.

DON’T use offensive language. You never know who is listening and who is sensitive to what and you could inadvertently really upset the public or neighbours and then cause havoc for your Location Manager or yourself.

DON’T forget the weather. Especially in the UK where we live with a schizophrenic weather climate. Don’t just look at one weather resource – compare lots of different services and keep an eye on trends throughout the week. Let your cast and crew know on the call sheet what sort of weather to expect and if it’s anything too adverse, pop a banner across the top with a warning to dress appropriately!

VFX Screen Replacement

VFX Screen Replacement

Filming a device like a mobile or tablet on camera and getting a sharp, clear image can be a tricky thing to get right, that’s why we use something called ‘screen replacement’ which falls under the VFX (visual effects) category and can save the director and editor (also any other members of the creative team) a lot of time and money.

The process is fairly simple for the editor to add the desired footage to the screen, below is a step by step guide of how a basic screen replacement would be done;

Step 1:

Assuming that the camera is set to the correct settings (exposure, focus, etc) the device would be filmed with a chroma green or blue screen (green is the best for this as it has the highest contrast to the edge of the device: in most cases)

Step 2:

When ready, the editor will take the video file, correct any colours to match the look of the film and proceed to place motion trackers on the corners of the device so that when the device moves, the markers will too.

Step 3:

Once all of the points line up to the edges of the device the editor will then proceed to make sure the screen still looks natural round the edges and also create a mask for anything that may appear in front of the screen

Step 4:

When the mask is complete the desired per-recorded video (or still images) is attached to the shape that was made by the corner points from step 2

Voilà, and there it is, if you would like to try it yourself you can search ‘VFX screen replacement’ on Youtube.

5 ways to Green your production

5 ways to Green your production

The United Nations reports that if the Human population grows to 9.6 billion by 2050, the amount of resources needed to sustain our current lifestyles would be equivalent to three Earth-type planets. Scary, right? Every individual and organisation has a responsibility to reduce carbon footprint and film productions should be no different.

Here are some simple and practical tips which you can apply straight away to your production.

1. Encourage the crew to bring their own water bottles

Set life is thirsty work, and your cast and crew will drink water like fish. Let’ssay that you’ve got 20 people on set, each drinking 4 x 500ml bottles a day for a 5-day shoot. That’s 400 plastic bottles. Instead, invite the cast and crew to bring their own refillable water bottles. This will also save you an incredible amount of money. If your organisation has the budget, you could even invest in branded water bottles which your crew can then take onto other sets and spread your brand image!

Bonus tip – make sure that your cast and crew write their name on any disposable bottle or cup they might use, so they can stick with using that same product!

2. Cut down on printing

The film industry is terrible for paper consumption. There are piles of forms, reports, checklists and mountains of other documents that will increase your carbon footprint and drive up your production costs, too. Documents that need to be disseminated to all cast and crew, such as call sheets, contact lists and memos, can be emailed. Most crew will be happy with this as they’re used to reading information from their smartphones.

Bonus tip – if you do need to print, use double-sided, black & white settings where possible.

3. Promote carpooling and public transport

When crewing for a project, you’ll generally find that a lot of the crew will be ina similar area and most of them will be happy to drive other crew (or cast) in their cars. Not only does this reduce the amount of CO and CO2 being chucked into the atmosphere, it cuts costs if you’re paying mileage as you’d need to compensate fewer drivers.

Bonus tip – try to coordinate carpooling by department and/or call time so all their department can start work straight away!

4. Chat to your department heads &collaborators

Who says that you have to do all the work? Be intelligently lazy and involve your collaborators in your greener goals. Your makeup artist, for example, will be able to suggest more environmentally friendly cosmetics. Each department can reduce their carbon footprint so lay out your expectations and let them do the legwork!

Bonus tip – you don’t need to have a separate meeting for this. Just include itin the agenda for one (or a couple) of your production meetings!

5. Arrange doggy-bags for left-overs

As Napoleon famously said, an army marches on its stomach. Your cast and crew will love you if you let them take home left-over food and it ensures they get to eat before the next day. This will also save you money on waste collection!

What are your favourite tips and tricks for a greener production?