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How do I plan a filming day?

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

When making films and video planning is paramount, a lost minute on set multiplies when you may in fact have a whole crew standing around waiting. There is a knock on effect if you lose too much time, you may miss the opportunity to get all the planned content, or in extreme circumstances you may even need to get people back to finish off the shoot - all of which could cost end up costing more.

Therefore when we plan a shoot day, it is critical to consider what content should be made a priority. Are there any locations or people you cannot afford to get back in. In the terms of businesses this could be getting one of your customers to give a testimonial, or for a school this could be getting a parent or governor in specially. Reducing the amount of time wasted for those people will keep them happier and help maintain a good relationship with them. Think about how much time is required for each of these, how many questions do you need to ask or what process you need to capture at the locations – Then allocate the time accordingly.

Once you have identified what is the most important content to capture, we call this the A roll. Then identify your B roll opportunities and you can build time around the A roll to make sure you can capture shots which compliment what is being said.

As an example; with our films for schools we know that our A roll is actually going to be the head teacher interview. But we know we have time pressures because we are only going to have the opportunity to capture the students learning and participating in class from roughly 9-3. Therefore our priority is capturing the USP’s of the school, showing the sports facilities, artistic opportunities and maximising the learning. We can plan for the head teacher interview to be at the end of the shoot day, as this will mean we have no set time limit to finish. Then we will ask the school to break each subject down into a 15 minute slot, meaning we can maximise filming across the site to capture a real variety of what the school has to offer.

When working with businesses, we may try to prioritise the interviews first, in case some of the staff members need to leave at a specific time due to child care etc. Then the rest of the time we will have planned how to capture the shots which compliment what is being said. This could be capturing the design, manufacturing or testing processes. It could be capturing the service or the staff member’s passion; all these possible shots help show your audience why they should purchase the product or service.

Interviews usually take around 30 minutes to capture, but it can take some time to set up the cameras, lighting and audio equipment beforehand. With this in mind, we do always try to arrive around an hour earlier that when we need to begin shooting. This means we can set up the lighting and a camera within the interview area, but then we can also set up additional cameras that we can then use to capture the B roll. If we need to then capture any interviews throughout the day, we have minimal time lost as the equipment will be ready for us to operate.

In summery here are a few key points, or a checklist to help you:

  • Identify your A roll: Interviews or processes which cannot be re filmed.

  • Plan the B roll around the A roll – simple processes could be captured in 15- 30 minutes.

  • Try to allocate a designated space for interviews – a bonus if you can leave equipment there.

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