Ready, Aim, Shoot – an essential checklist for filming

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Okay so you’ve got a video shoot coming up. That usually means there’s been some planning done, some time and money spent and you’re looking forward to a great outcome.

To ensure you get the best results here is a checklist of things to get right when preparing for the filming.

1. Charge the batteries
The best time to charge the batteries for your camera, your lights, your monitor, your microphones is the night before. Too far out from the shoot and they might deplete, too soon to the shoot and they might not be charged in time.

2. Do you have enough media and is it cleared for filming
Generally you’ll be filming on a SD card or similar. If you need to format the card so it’s clear for filming, make sure you have a copy of the previous footage (and preferably a back up of it as well). Then you can delete it. I tend to have at least one more card than I think I’ll need. Just in case.

3. Have a list of all the equipment you need for your shoot.

And make sure you have everything. It’s best to do this at least a day before. If you suddenly realise you are missing a necessary item you may still have time to resolve it. If in doubt include items in your gear. It is better to have it and not need it, than need it and and not have it.

4. Test any new equipment.
If you have a device that is part of your kit, then make sure it works as it is meant to. To test it, attach it to whatever it will be attached to, or plugged into whatever it will be plugged into. Don’t assume it will work. Check it and know that it works. There are too many things happening on a shoot to be wondering if it’s you or the equipment that’s not working properly. If you do the checks in the calm before the storm you’ll know if it’s working or not. You will also discover little issues that hadn’t occurred to you.

5. Have a call sheet.
This details who is involved in the filming. What their contact details are, what their roles are. It includes the address details, where to park, and a brief explanation of what will be filmed. This is sent out to the crew, the actors, the clients, and anyone else involved in the days leading up to the filming. It means everyone has the essential information.

6. Have a script and a shot list
The script is not just what the words are but also what needs to be filmed. You need to have your script done before you film to avoid missing any key elements. The shot list is a detailed list of every shot you need to capture. When you’re filming there is plenty to think about. Having a list you have prepared earlier makes it a lot easier to check off each shot as you capture it. On more complex shoots you many have a storyboard to reference for each shot.

7. Check the location
Is the location suitable?Is it large enough? Are you able to light it adequately? Is it free from noise – traffic, screaming kids, planes overhead, construction work? Do you have good access? Can you park nearby or unload the equipment easily?

8. Give yourself enough time
Rarely does everything go smoothly. When setting up you need to allow time for complications. If you think it will take you 30 minutes to set up, allow 45 minutes.

9. Allow for breaks and eating
If you are filming all day, your crew and you will perform better if they are fed and happy. Allow breaks so people can refuel and energise. Is there a cafe near by, or do you need to bring your own food?

10. Don’t assume
Assumptions are the mother of all stuff ups. If you ever find yourself saying things like “I assume it will be a quiet location.” “I guess they’ll know we’ll be there.” “I doubt they’ll mind being filmed” STOP and check. These are alarm bells that you need to listen to. A quick phone call is all it will take to clarify. If you ever hear anyone else making assumptions then seek clarification. It’s easy to do – it’s also easy not to do. Do it 🙂

Put these steps into your plan and you will have a much more enjoyable experience.

Do you have some favorite actions before every shoot?

If you are looking for some creative solutions to get your clients to take the critical next step, give us a call on

About Geoff Anderson

About Geoff Anderson

Geoff Anderson is the owner of Sonic Sight and has been producing videos for 30 years. He is an author, presenter as well as a video producer.

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