Filming on the Go: Five Things to Remember

Remote locations. Lots of movies have them. Whether it’s going to New Zealand to film (I wish) or the park a few minutes away; be it in a European castle or a friend’s basement, getting from Point A to Point B (and back) in one piece can be a hassle. Not to mention the actual filming. Here are a few tips to help your next remote… adventure.

First: Check, check, and re-check

We grabbed the props we’d need on the day before the outdoor shoot.Never assume that you have all the props and equipment loaded into the car. Once during the filming of iSundae we got all the way to the park and started setting up when we discovered that Somindeo’s wig was still at home. It took twenty minutes for my grandma and me to drive home, find the wig, and bring it back. During that time the others had to film whatever they could.

Second: Know what you’ll be filming

Rebekah directing with the storyboards.I can not tell you how much time we lost by not knowing what angles we wanted to film. We would check the storyboards, film one angle, then everything would come to a halt while we looked to see what we needed to film next at what angle with which camera and with which actors. Repeat a dozen times and you can see what I mean. I’m estimating that we probably lost ten to twenty minutes out of each hour of filming time by not knowing what we were going to do next.

The easiest way to prevent this is to make a written list of shots divided by angle. It looks like something like this—

—Close shot Anthony:
“But what do we do?”
“Could we try the door?”
“Are you crazy? We’d be creamed!”
—Wide shot Anthony, Miranda, Charles (Zoe in the background):
Run through whole scene.
—Two shot Miranda and Charles:
Dialogue from Charles’ “Do you think we should try it?” through Miranda’s “Even a mouse would think twice.”

You get the idea. Experiment to see what works best for you. We’re still in the baby stages of this.

Third: Bring a repair kit

The repair kit.Things will always break. Whenever possible they’ll wait until it’ll be the most inconvenience to you. I put together a basic kit that always comes with us on a filming expedition.

  • A needle and neutral thread colors
  • Safety pins
  • Tape of various kinds (Gaffer’s, Scotch, etc.)
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks, if you’ll have an outlet handy
  • Scissors

You might also want to bring Kleenex, glasses cases if your actors aren’t supposed to wear their glasses during filming, band-aids, and yarn for tying things.

Fourth: Remember that you’re filming out of doors

Plan accordingly. Camp chairs for members of the cast to use when not in front of the camera, sunglasses, bug repellant (I never thought of that, but I wish I had), bottled water, snacks, umbrellas, and a quick getaway plan if it starts to rain.

The wagon we use to carry props.We were filming a section of iSundae under the threat of rain, so we kept a kid’s wagon ready and gave everyone instructions. Ruth and Jordan would grab the equipment and run for the cars, while the rest of us would pile any loose props on the wagon and follow. The moms were in charge of the folding chairs.

Fifth: The basics

Make sure you’re allowed to film in that location, know where the restrooms are, don’t say you’ll be there for one hour and stretch it into three. Keep the actors and crew happy, encourage as much as possible, and give peppermints freely. You might just have the most fun of your life.

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