Dan Holden's Blog

Screenwriting, Film-Making and Web TV

Five Ways to Instantly Improve Your Indie Film Shoot

SVLAFC12You have a great story, an awesome crew, excellent actors and an outstanding location. Which means everything should go as planned on your shoot day or days.


Well, perhaps so, but there are always opportunities for improvement. Here are some suggestions that may resonate:

  1. Establish your set well ahead of shoot day. Even for productions that are planned to be shot in one location on one day, you’re going to need sufficient time to create the set, place the art, sound, and lighting equipment, store craft supplies, and establish camera angles and positions. Give yourself at least one full day for this activity in each location.
  2. Make introductions! Many Indie films are produced as a collaborative effort by artists and crew who may not have met before going into the studio. So before you get started filming on day one, take the time to gather up the troops and introduce them to each. Then, group them together into functional teams for further introductions. This enables operational teams to meet, establish relationships, and create a cadence for operating together. It will also cut down on chit-chat on the set later on. Caveat: Leave the actors out of the introductions unless they wish to do so.
  3. Treat the script supervisor as the most important person on the set. The script super’s job is to note every shot and take, including comments from the director and PA. This information is vital to the editor and is as important in the editing process as the film itself. For this reason, the script supervisor should be given every opportunity to grab the director’s ear, question the camera operators and even take a break if necessary. A backup to the script super who is practiced in the art is also a great idea.
  4. Photograph everything for consistency. Any modifications to art and electrical work should take place off the set. It’s the set designer’s nightmare that an item from his or her kit – a hammer, some tape or a paint can – will appear on the set in the final cut. As much as possible, any artistic adjustments should take place off the set and be replaced only when finished. Check photographs for consistency and don’t let camera operators move anything without permission.
  5. You’re a director, not a dictator. Designate a small team to help you review the first take of every shot. This team should be candid and insightful in their critique of the shot and all of its various elements … lighting, sound, cadence, color, shot angles, everything. Time each take from start to finish and ask for suggestions as to how to speed it up.

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This entry was posted on April 3, 2015 by in Uncategorized.


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