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Production Values

movie_set3

While actually shooting the video can be the most intense and fun phase of the whole process, it is the most expensive in terms of time and other scarce resources. Good pre-production maximizes the potential of the production phase.

What follows is a compendium of good advice, things that I’ve learned from experience, AKA mistakes and dumb decisions. The best one-stop source for more:

MediaCollege.com

a free educational website for all forms of electronic media. We have hundreds of exclusive tutorials covering video & television production, audio work, photography, graphics, web design and more. You’ll also find utilities, reference material (e.g. user manuals), industry news and a helpful forum.

What to do
while you’re the director on the set

First and foremost, this is teamwork. You won’t be able to do this without the help of your actors and crew. Running a close second behind teamwork: you’re the director! Everyone is there to help, but you have to tell them what to do. Everyone is busy and wants to get on to their next class or to the after-shoot party. Do everyone a favor by being prepared and decisive.

The best thing you can do for the actors is to give them a script and have them rehearse it.

The best thing you can do for the crew is to have a well thought out, detailed shot list.

movie_set

Crew

You will need at least two crew in addition to the actors. If you try to perform any of these roles yourself, you are asking too much of yourself. That’s like trying to play two positions on the field during a game.

production manager(s)

You will need one or more classmates to manage the set during the shoot: lights, sound, sets, props, costumes. Every production will have a unique set of tasks that will fall to the production manager.

Everyone on the set needs to take responsibility for the production values. However, the checklist below will be very useful for the cinematographer and production manager(s) in the sense that attending to them will lead to Genny Award nominations. Plus you’re learning something useful.

cinematographer (camera operator)

The director will spend most of the time next to the camera, looking through the viewer, telling the actors and production manager what to adjust, and discussing things with the cinematographer. The cinematographer is responsible for the camera and the tape, for monitoring the sound through a headset, and for keeping the shot in frame. The cinematographer has to be able to say that another take is necessary because the sound/lights/framing wasn’t what the director wanted.

You will need a second camera operator only if you will use a second camera during a given shot.

a movie set: note the crew members and their tasks

a movie set: note the crew members and their tasks