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Getting organized

Getting organized

Buy a production notebook to make your film or video production extremely well organized. We recommend a good old-fashioned 3-ring binder, the type often carried by schoolchildren. It’s the perfect 1-stop spot  to store all your  shoot- related information, and it will soon become your new best friend.


Stock your production notebook with these items:


» Dividers: They add instant organization and make the items you need during

the shoot easy to fi

» Pens and pencils: Pens are the fi     thing you lose, so be sure to have more than one.

» Blank paper: You may need scratch paper or sheets of paper to illustrate shots.

» An envelope: You need something to store the receipts from your expendi-

tures, right?




Completing your checklists and shoot sack

After you have the basic items for your production notebook (as described in the preceding section), expand its contents by storing these items in it as well:


» Script: Your copy of the dialogue to be used in the shoot should always stay with you so that you can make notes, change the dialogue, or stay abreast of

scenes that have been shot.

» Call sheet: This is a list of your cast and crew’s arrival times on set. If you expect them to arrive at diff                                       times, keep track of their schedules.


» Cast and crew contact sheet: This list of contact information (such as email addresses and phone numbers) is the easiest way to ensure that participants

can contact each other.

» Schedule: A schedule is useful when a number of cast or crew members are arriving on the same day and you want to better schedule the shoot, by

determining which scenes to shoot and when, and when to let everyone take a break.

» Storyboard: This series of panels shows the individual shots within a scene.

Keep the storyboard handy to show your crew the shots you want.

» Shot list: Similar to the storyboard, this lists all the shots you plan to capture

during your shoot and any relevant details, including the type of shot or specifi lens you intend to use.

» Prop and costume list: Double-check this list after the shooting day ends to

ensure that all items are accounted for and returned to the appropriate person or place.

» Script breakdown: List cast members, props, costumes, and types of shots

for every individual scene, and specify whether the scene is an interior or an exterior.

» Cast breakdown: This reverse version of the script breakdown lists actors

and the scenes in which they appear. Creating this list helps you schedule the shooting order of scenes.


Though the script breakdown and cast breakdown may be unnecessary for a sim- ple shoot, if you have multiple scenes and actors, consider the breakdowns as insurance against losing important elements of the shoot. (We’ve seen actors released from a shoot for the day only to find that they were still needed for another scene later the same day.)


The night before your shoot, complete these tasks:


» Charge all batteries. Charge up all related devices, such as your camera, lights, laptop, and cellphone.

» Wipe any reusable media. If your camera records video to SD or CF cards, format them (otherwise known as erasing them) and clear some space.

» Double-check your equipment. Quickly test your cameras, lenses, lights, and audio equipment. Ensure that every item works and that you know the exact

location of all your equipment and accessories.

» Pack props and costumes. Don’t wait until the morning of the shoot to pack everything!


» Make copies of the script. While you’re at it, take the extra step of labeling every copy individually for your cast and crew. Make sure you have extra

copies of any important documents (schedules, contact sheets, and so on).

» Stock up on petty cash. Withdraw cash from a nearby ATM so that you can purchase food, water, extra batteries, coff                                        and any other necessities you

may need for the shoot. This is where that receipt envelope comes in handy.

» Confi     call times. Call, text, or email all participants to ensure that they

know when and where to show up. Make sure you get a response guarantee- ing their confi

» Check the weather forecast. Make sure that the atmospheric conditions

won’t aff     you adversely. Pay attention to rain forecasts and storm warnings, and prepare for all conditions.


While you’re charging batteries and anxiously awaiting the last of the cast to con- firm their call times, turn your attention to another vital element of the shoot: the shoot sack. Simply fill a gym bag, large backpack, or (our favorite) rolling suitcase with the following essential items, and then you can take this film-production survival kit with you anywhere:


» Batteries and chargers: Store any batteries that aren’t already installed in your equipment, and add any extra AA or AAA batteries you may need.

» Extension cords: Bring along at least two long heavy-duty cords.

» Power strips: Bring two of these also.

» Gaff   and spike tape: These heavy-duty tapes have millions of uses, from taping down equipment to labeling spent memory cards.

» Lights and mic: As long as these items fi into your shoot sack, add them.

» Screwdriver and knife: You never know when you’ll need to tighten the bolt on a tripod plate or cut some rope on set.

» Work gloves: The lights may become too hot to touch after being on for a while.

» Tripod and monopod: Even if these items don’t fi in the bag, pack them

as part of your preparation ritual. (A monopod is a 1-legged tripod, typically used for shots requiring a more dynamic feel or a quick-paced live event or production.)

» Laptop (and optional external hard drive): These devices are likely to have separate cases, but you should make them part of your preparation ritual,

too. You may need them for transferring footage among cards on the set. Bring a card reader as well, if your laptop lacks a built-in one.


Take a moment to look over everything you’ve packed. You’ve created a produc- tion notebook, double-checked equipment, charged batteries, confirmed sched- ules and locations with your cast and crew, and made for yourself the world’s best shoot sack. You’re ready to go, so take a deep breath and get a good night’s sleep.