If you’re used to filming in the almost perfect conditions that shooting on set or on sound stages affords you then the unique challenges of filming on location might come as a surprise the first few times you experience it. There are a lot of factors to consider, and there are a lot of things that are simply out of your control, like the weather or (if it’s a public space) pedestrians, cars and airplanes.
The conditions on location may also come with a few hurdles, getting to your location could be tricky (trucks or trailers might battle wilder terrain), you might have little to no reception to coordinate your crew, and the list goes on. However, filming on location brings an entirely authentic quality to your footage, so it is often absolutely worth it!
We’ve put together a list of things to prepare for or bear in mind before you next film on location that will help you save on production (this includes saving time, effort, and on costs).
Plan for the eventualities of weather
Inclement weather can set you back in a number of ways; heavy rains are dangerous and tricky to film in and they can make it difficult for your trucks and dollies to move around in the mud and on slippery surfaces. You also have to have sufficient shelter for your actors and crew, lighting is often an issue if there is bad weather, and heavy winds can be downright dangerous for all people and equipment involved! It slows down the shooting and makes some scenes impossible to shoot so make sure you pack enough pop up tents and umbrellas to cover all your gear and factor in some delays. Invest in a good all-weather jacket for yourself if you intend on doing more on location filming.
Plan for mud
Plan alternate routes for your vehicles ahead of time if the current route cuts through potential mud zones – large vehicles are the most at risk for getting stuck in the mud. As mentioned before, camera dollies are going to be useless after heavy rain or snow, so opt for gear stretchers, tarpaulins or plastic sheets to carry your gear around. Make sure you have a pair of wellington boots so you can get around easily too.
Pack two of everything
It might sound funny, but pack an extra everything, if you are far away from anywhere convenient then you need to make sure you are prepared for every eventuality. This extends to all departments, from filming equipment, props department, to wardrobe.
Remember to include extra bump in and bump out time
Unlike in the case of sets and sound stages, the time it takes for your crew to set up and bump out is far longer when out on location. Remember that moving equipment around on location is far less straightforward and often requires a lot more manpower.
Otherwise enjoy your on location shooting, it can be a rewarding process however taxing it can be. There will be amazing views, and breathless scenery, which hopefully through your storytelling will be appreciated on the big screen. Don’t feel intimidated by filming on location, if you are prepared then you will suffer less of the side-effects and have fantastic adventures that you will never forget.