8 tips for getting through a film shoot

The art of filmmaking, much like 3D art and visual effects, is a complicated and time-consuming process. And takes a number of skills – organisational as much as technical ability – to be successful. Here VFX supervisor turned director Hasraf Dulull shares his expert advice for getting through a film shoot.

01. Be nice

The first advice I tell everyone is to be nice to your crew; don’t go all Christian Bale on them, because remember, they are here to help you make the film. The other advice I would give is to always come prepped but also be open to suggestion.  

02. Stay calm

Do not engage in a debate about shot creative decisions in front of the whole crew, just take your DP or producer to the side and discuss in a civilised way. Same with actors,  be more one-on-one rather than shouting from the digital village or behind the camera.  

03. Shooting schedule 

Shoot the scenes that require extras first, as you don’t want them waiting around all day, especially considering they are doing you a favour. Keep small scenes until last, as they require limited setups and smaller crew.  

04. Collect data

Use the clapperboard to record data such as takes, lens data, and so forth, as that will help immensely in the edit/post later. If you forget the clapper board then don’t worry, you can still use a notebook and clap for sound sync like we did. 

05. Capture multiple angles

Always shoot coverage; it’s so important to do this – and don’t get hung up about having lots of cameras. This is important for the editor but also, if you only have a day to shoot the scenes, then you want to have more than one camera capturing the scene at various angles.

06. Stay organised

Keep your file structure on the drives containing the footage clean and organised, otherwise your editor will be very angry and waste a lot of time trying to figure out what the footage is.

07. Spend on audio

Don’t go cheap or shortcut on audio, this part is just as important or equally as important as the visuals. Remember, audiences are more forgiving with a not-too-perfect focused shot than a bad audio. So make sure you hire a dedicated sound recording operator who has the right kit (boom, mics, and so forth), and also ensure someone is logging all the takes with each track recorded.

08. Unit photography

Have a person on set taking unit photography and shooting some DSLR behind the scenes footage. This material is gold for marketing your film and promoting it in magazines and websites as audiences always like to see how the film was made. But also you can use this for PR before releasing the film.  

This article originally appeared in 3D World issue 209; buy it here

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Hasraf Dulull is a VFX supervisor turned director, whose VFX-heavy shorts include Fubar Redux, Project Kronos, I.R.I.S and Sync.