Lower-cost camera and support technology makes capturing good video easier than ever. But don't forget the importance of skilled people.
Because of the the holiday season, a lot of young people now have new video gear and may be anxious to try out their video production skills. The good news is today’s technology can provide great images at a lower cost than ever. An important, less technical, skill is for the director to bring organizational skill to the shoot.
Luck is on your side, because only a few years ago the entry cost was much higher and opportunity was available only to the very fortunate few. Now the risks are lower than ever and it’s a great time to experiment.
But with all that said, mistakes are still mistakes and it is easy to make them. A big mistake can cost you dearly or upset your plans, so try to avoid them by being smart. Here are a few of the pitfalls that often trip up beginning videographers. It’s OK if you are not wealthy, but it’s important to be smart.
Get Experienced Help. Video is a complex beast and you definitely need all the help you can get, especially if you are a beginner. Every aspect of a production can be a mind-field. So find friends who have been there to help you. Then listen to them. If you are working with actors, get someone with acting experience to communicate with them. Then learn what to say and not say. It’s the same with lighting, sound, camera support, transportation and everything else you deal with. If you insist on starting out as the director, find the best producer to work with and support you.
You will need help so recruit the highest-skilled technical people you can afford.
Plan Every Detail in Advance. Think through your every move before the shooting day arrives. Draw story boards. Plan every detail. Give every person on the set an assignment in advance. Leave nothing to chance. Have an extra person there to handle unanticipated issues. Even if you get to the location and make change, at least you know you are making the change and why. Leave zero on your checklist to chance.
Be Well Rested for the Shoot. It may sound silly, but sleep well before the shoot and don’t worry about it. If you’ve done you homework, you’ve done all you can do. Whatever unexpected happens on the set, will require your skill to address it. It is better to face unknown issues in a rested condition. It’s just common sense but you’d be amazed at how many newbies go in stressed out.
Be Humble and Open to Ideas from Others. If you are the leader, then lead. Good leaders are never arrogant and always open to what others have to say. If you agree, then do it. If not, explain why and move on. Don’t brush anyone off and don’t express uncertainty. Listen to key crew members about sound, lighting or other issues. Deal with them and move on. Don’t hold up the crew over minor problems. Don’t be unreasonable or a slave driver — moderation is everything. Respect others and they will respect you. This, depending on your personality, may be easier said then done.
Treat and Feed Your Crew Well. Regardless of the deal you made with crew members, treat them as you would like to be treated. A major area that every novice learns is to have plenty of good food and drink on every set. It actually works better than money at keeping the crew happy? It was one of the first things I learned in video! You never want to have a crew member want to leave the set because they are hungry or thirsty. If you do it right, they will NOT leave.
The crew needs to work as a team and it is your job to treat and manage them as one.
Hire Real Crew Members, Never Friends. You want people who are motivated by their job — not just fascinated by the video process. Never hire non-professional friends to work on a video set. Motivation is very important. If friends want to observe, let them observe, but not participate. It is a good rule, always.
Make Sure Everyone Has Transportation It is your job to keep everyone happy. Make sure they have transportation to and from the set. Leave no one hanging and make sure they tell you if they have a problem or if one develops. Keep your crew as unstressed as possible. This attention will pay you back with rewards of loyalty.
Remember, any sized crew — from two people to twenty — must function as a group to accomplish a production task. Every member needs to do specific job and do it well. As the director, it is your job is to make sure that happens. Putting the right cast and crew together is the most important task. Personalities matter. Once that’s done, make sure they are comfortable and functioning well.
If all this sounds like the director is a babysitter, this is partially right. Running a smooth production operation so the end product comes out as envisioned is the name of the game. So taking care of everyone’s needs is part of the job. Of course, there is a lot to learn as time goes on, but one can never over-plan the basics of any production.
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