Carefully evaluate a potential location. If you don't find what you have preconceived,
get a feel of what is already there and try to use it to your advantage. Change
your script or preconceptions to fit existing conditions. Using what's already
there is usually cheaper, faster and often more realistic.
Don't delay shooting scenics and one-time events. Conditions often change, especially
the lighting and weather. Bring a production camera while scouting if only to
get an establishing shot, a good sunset or a one-time event. Don't rush shooting
real people. Get to know them first.
When faced with the question, "Should I shoot it?" "Tape and film is cheap."
If it helps the story, "shoot it". If it is the first time that you see something,
shoot. You can shoot it again if you find it better later on, now at least you
now have it.
Often that feeling that you should turn back to get something is wise. A few
minutes delay can save a much longer trip back later if you don't find it again
or something better.
Don't reshoot something if it isn't a lot better than what you already have
shot. It's easy to keep shooting something really interesting or exciting when
you should, instead, be getting cut-a-ways and coverage and other material needed
to advance your story.
Always consider what a small set, props or moving an event can do. Often things
happen in a less than ideal shooting location and can be moved for better lighting,
sound or backgrounds.
Any location can have people both sympathetic and non-sympathetic to your viewpoint.
Your success may dependent upon how you are perceived. Many people distrust
reporters, scientists, businessmen, writers, and filmmakers. But tourists and
students with the right attitude and appearance are often more readily accepted.
Your questions and attitude will often determine your access to things. Think
about what you say and ask. Make sure it will be HEARD as intended. If you have
a cause, suppress your need to tell people about it. They may or may not be
sympathetic or understand it. They may pass your tale or their interpretation
of it to others that may see you as a threat. Be considerate, listen, and don't
tread on people or their turf. .
When dealing in foreign languages, assume people understand English even if
they say they don't. Especially people in power.
Some interpreters color everything they tell you AND even your contact might.
They may not even understand your questions, but not want to be embarrassed
by saying so. Tourist guides and translators are notorious for having answers
to every question that are designed to satisfy the tourist. The information
might be 5% correct, but interesting. Often your request for clarification is
seen as a threat to their position as a knowledgeable translator or authority.
If you feel they are a questionable source of information, but are stuck with
them, humor them, don't make things worse. You need them.
Communications with locals can be frustrating. Words and names for things can
mean entirely different things. Time can be relative, especially in the warmer
climates. What someone considers fast may seem too slow for you. Respect their
culture and try to work with them, not around or over them. People can be very
willing to help you, but also be very busy in their own lives and your needs
will just have to wait their turn. Don't take tardiness as a lack of caring.
Things may just happen at a slower pace than you are used to. People who want
to help you may perceive your anxiousness as a lack of appreciation.
Often arrogant tourists and film people before you have left a bad taste in
people's mouths. Americans and Hollywood types can to be demanding, demeaning
and think that money will solve anything. Your attitude can break their perception
of US. Asking about their own lives, dreams and aspirations will show that you
do care about them and not just what they can do for you. If people already
have a full schedule, you might try "Is there something that we can do to help
make you available?" Don't start by flashing money.
EQUALIZERS IN PRODUCTION
Makes a plan: A schedule, LISTS of the actors, crew, locations, sequence of
shots, props, wardrobe. CHECK THOSE LISTS OFTEN.
Plan for problems: Consider all that can go wrong and make plans for what to
do if things don't happen according to your plan.
Prepare for the worst weather, lighting or sound conditions.
Know where the sun will be.
Make a conservative schedule with alternate "extra goodies" to shoot if you
happen to get ahead of schedule.
Get the most important shots "in the can" as soon as possible.
Know what to eliminate when you get behind schedule.
Save inserts for last or the next day. Save shots that can be shot later till
last. Get what you need in that location first. Consider crew, cast, location
and equipment costs factors.
Get an early start: It's less embarrassing to quit early than to not finish
on time. An "Easy day" can run long. Get enough sleep. Party after the awards
Have the right props and wardrobe. SEE THEM BEFOREHAND.
The Onlookers: Friends, relatives and strangers.
The Equipment: Doubts about technical things cloud your thinking.
The Crew: You need to know what to tell them to do and not seem inexperienced
or indecisive. Have a plan.
The Cast: (actors, talent) are often as scared as the director.
The Client: Most projects have a sponsor. A sponsor's rep. on the set has someone
to answer to and is not always the ultimate authority. They have to answer to
the sponsor and are terrified of coming back with the WRONG THING. Try to explain
what your intend to do.
The Elements: Heat, cold, noise. wind, rain, overcast, traffic
airplanes, sirens, helicopters, trucks. gardeners, tree trimmers.
Your own Ego: The fear of failure, looking bad, or the shoot not going as well
Time: It almost always takes longer than you planed.
The Budget: It ALWAYS costs more
A bad report about yesterday's film or tape.
THE LOCALS: The people who's domain you are treading upon.
Officials. Truly busy ones, petty ones and bureaucrats.
Businessmen with customers to be serviced.
Workers with a job to do; gardeners and tree trimmers.
Gangs or unions with jurisdiction over your location.
The school group that always uses your location on Tuesdays.
The minor official that has jurisdiction over your location.
Any of the above "who was not informed."
COMMON MISTAKES UNDER FIRE
Compromising too much when things are not going well.
Not compromising when things are not going well. "That's not what I had in mind."
Sit down and rethink your plan considering what isn't working and why. Don't
beat a dead horse.
© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.