Are you planning to create video for your company for the very first time? Or perhaps it’s time to update the video you’re already using? Either way, this series of articles is designed to help you to understand the process of video production.
Last week in Part One of this four-part series, we demystified Pre-Production. This week we’re going to take a look at Production itself, what to expect on the big day(s) and how to be prepared so that you can relax and enjoy the experience.
THE NIGHT BEFORE:
The night before, make every effort to get to bed on time (if not early). If you’re going to be on camera, it can be a good idea to avoid alcohol or foods high in sodium as both will make your eyes puffy. Set your alarm and perhaps set a secondary alarm too, just in case! Check the call sheet and plan to arrive 15 minutes before your call time. If you’ve never been to the shoot location, are unsure of traffic or parking, do a little research now so that you won’t start the day in a panicked state. Google Maps offers predictions regarding traffic and recommendations for nearby parking too. Check the weather too - even if you’re shooting indoors, especially extreme conditions (that’s rain if you live in Los Angeles) can cause unusual delays or require alternate routes. Before you hit the sack, be sure to pack up any outfits you’ve been asked to bring, and make sure they are clean and pressed. Is there a makeup artist hired for the production? (If you’re unsure then check your call-sheet or ask your production manager) If not, you might want to bring along your own makeup essentials for touch ups throughout the day. Lastly, don’t forget any medications you might be taking and will need on set.
HURRY UP AND WAIT:
It’s the big day and everyone is on-set bright and early, excitement levels are high and the craft services (a term for on-set catering) are dishing out bagels and coffee. It feels like the energy of the morning will carry you through the day, but one of the first things you’ll realize about being on set is the rule of “Hurry up and wait.” There are many, many moving parts to filmmaking, each and every shot must be planned, setup, lit, dressed and that’s all before the talent arrive from wardrobe and make-up and require direction, and blocking. It may seem that things are progressing slowly, but rest assured that a trustworthy production manager has everything under control. We mentioned a call sheet in last week’s article - this is a schedule for the day so keep a copy in your back pocket. You’ll be able to get a good estimate of when to expect different scenes to shoot, when there will be meal breaks and when you will likely wrap (finish for the day).
IT’S NICE TO BE NICE:
On set etiquette is paramount and it can be dumbed down to “be nice and respectful to everyone”. When everyone respects each other, the location and the equipment - a smooth and happy production day is had by all. Each and every person on set (including yourself) has a specific job to do and that’s their area of expertise. If you would like have some creative input into the day’s happenings, then be sure to make that known to the production team before the big day, and mutually agree on a method of communication that works for everyone. Very few Directors appreciate a client standing over their shoulder and “backseat-directing”. However, this is your company’s shoot and you should feel comfortable expressing any needs that you don’t see being fulfilled, it’s all about HOW you do it. And if you notice something that you think might be dangerous or problematic on set, then choose a time between takes and whisper it respectfully in the ear of your Production Manager.
ON CAMERA TIPS:
If you’re going to be a spokesperson for your company and will be on-camera, here are some tips to reduce nerves and improve your performance:
Memorization. If there is a script then be sure to read through it a couple of times before shoot day and then when you’re on set. If you find memorization easy, then by all means get “off book” (that means you know it so well you no longer need a script). If you find that trying to memorize the script is causing you stress, then it’s far better to let go of it. Be familiar with the material, and place trust in your production team to guide you through. A great Director will be your friend on set, after all they want the same thing you do - a great performance. It’s a much more favorable outcome to NOT be word perfect but appear relaxed and confident, than to get the words 100% correct but have the charm of a DMV employee.
Trust that you, and all the unique traits that make you you, are enough. There’s no need to put on a character, or to try and look or sound like you think a professional should. Charisma is being comfortable in your own skin, owning who you are and leading with it! It can be challenging when you’re under the spotlights, but one of the best ways we’ve found to capture wonderful moments is to smile a bunch! Keeping the mood light and the jokes flowing is a foolproof way to stay relaxed and enjoy your 15 minutes of fame.
Breathe. This might sound obvious, but nerves cause us to breathe more shallow and in turn this makes us feel even more nervous! Instead, take a couple of seconds after the Director calls “Action!” and take 2-3 deep breaths, then begin. Don’t be afraid to take these moments to calm and prepare yourself, everyone on set will understand what you’re doing and why and will be completely supportive. Another tip is to sit up straight (although not rigid) and lean back in your chair. This posture alludes to confidence and is the most flattering too!
Communicate. Remember that everyone surrounding you on set, holding their various pieces of equipment and conducting various duties, are all there to support you. If you need a break - ask for it. If you need to clarify something - ask for that. If you want to try another take - express that need. It may feel that you are alone under the spotlight and all pressure is on you - but keeping an open line of communication with Director and other members of the crew will remind you that you’re a team with the same objective.
Insecurity. Be prepared to hate seeing yourself on camera. Just about everyone does, even the pros who do it for a living. If you do get to see dailies (rough, unedited takes) then don’t freak out! A lot of a performance is created in post. I guarantee that by the time you see the finished, polished video, you’ll be considering switching careers!
We hope this information has answered some questions for you, and but your mind at ease. Next Monday we will continue this series of articles and PART 3 will delve into the mysteries of POST-PRODUCTION.
In the meantime, if you have questions we’d love to answer them for you - send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or give us a call. If you’d like to see what we do and meet the team, then head over to our website: www.frontrunnerfilmsllc.com
One final tip: Raid craft services at the end of the day - there’s often tasty leftovers that would otherwise go to waste!