We’ve all been there – you’ve got to your location, you’re in the middle of a shoot, and something goes wrong. This could be any number of things, but it’s always frustrating!
After years of experience in the industry, we’ve come across our fair share of incidents. We believe it’s always best to be as prepared as you can, so here’s some of the things we know can commonly go wrong, and what you can do to try and avoid them.
Changes in the weather and conditions are almost inevitable, and the worst thing about this is that it’s pretty out of your control. Of course, it’s always good to be prepared – in the days before the shoot, check the forecast and make any accommodations you can for it. This might include packing covers and plastic bags for your equipment in the event of rain, or shades for your camera in bright sunlight.
Sometimes you can adapt and use the weather to your advantage – light rain in the background of a shot might be just the atmosphere you’re looking for. However if conditions are too extreme or not right for the mood of your video, sometimes your only option is to be flexible and adjust your day plan, or even reschedule the shoot.
If you’re making the most of natural light when filming outdoors, it can be very changeable. Days of patchy cloud can be a videographers worst nightmare! The key here is to be constantly adjusting – make the most of any lighting equipment you have and make sure you’re on top of changing the exposure levels on your camera. This may get tiring if the conditions are changing quickly all the time, but trust us, you’ll be glad you made the extra effort when it comes to editing!
Unless you’ve booked somewhere private for your shoot, there could very well be some unwanted sounds or noise pollution. You may need to make a judgement call based on how obtrusive it is. If it’s faint in the background, can you work with it to build up the atmosphere and character of the scene? But if it’s too disruptive, it may be necessary for you to approach people and politely ask if they could be considerate while you’re filming, or pause what they’re doing briefly.
For example, we were once filming and outdoor scene when someone fired up a leaf blower that was completely overpowering. Once we’d asked in a considerate manner, they were happy to pause for 10 or 15 minutes while we got the shot.
There’s a number of things that can happen with regards to equipment, and we’ve all made mistakes like forgetting to bring spare batteries or memory cards. The best thing you can do is simply to be as prepared as you can – try to remember your spares, fully charge everything before you go, and bring back ups of any essential equipment in case of malfunction. It might also be handy to have a toolkit with you in case you need to fix any hardware.
When you’re including others in your shoot, there may be times in which people are late or there are delays to your schedule. There’s not much you can do to prevent this, so try to be flexible and adapt to the circumstance. Sometimes you’ll need to switch up your day schedule to accommodate for it, which might require getting creative and thinking on your feet.
Hopefully this is something that you’ll never encounter, but it doesn’t hurt to be ready in case something does happen. If you’re working on larger production shoots there may be teams in place for this kind of thing, but if you’re in a smaller team or working alone, try to have procedures in place and make sure everyone is aware of them before you begin. Carry a first aid kit if you can, and ideally have someone on your team complete first aid training.
We hope you’ve learned something useful from hearing about our experiences of what can go wrong on set. Our general advice is to try and be prepared beforehand, and be flexible and adaptable if anything does happen on the day.