Production Tips

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  • Test everything before going into production
  • Assume something will go wrong. That could be a location issue, someone not showing up, weather, breakage of equipment/props/set dressing. Be prepared to problem solve on your feet.
  • It’s the sum of many small things done right that make the difference between amateur and pro media.
  • Do a ‘virtual walkthrough’ of your shooting day to make sure everything is accounted for. Visualize the day from start to finish. Who is showing up? Who will greet them? What and when will they eat, etc.
  • Remember to take the proper steps before production. Breaking down a script helps production know what props, wardrobe, special effects, etc. are needed. It can also help in the development of a shot list and shooting schedule.
  • Once you know the location, blocking prior to production can help save time. Know where the actors will be and where the camera will be. What focal length lens are you going to use? Always be free to change this during the shoot if an opportunity arises to improve. This will not get any easier the morning of the shoot so do not procrastinate decision making.
  • Talent and Script must be good. Even poor lighting and sound can be somewhat excusable, but audiences will not excuse poor quality content: talent and script.
  • Communication, planning, and making sure everyone is on the same page are all vital components to a smooth production. The importance of something like a call sheet becomes immediately apparent. You want an assistant director making sure you’re keeping schedule, not answering where the bathrooms are located twenty times in a day.

Directing

  • High energy when directing isn’t always as good as focused composure.
  • During an audition, you should see how the actor can handle direction. Have them deliver the exact same line in three very different ways. Many “actors” can not take and apply direction. Gauge their personality and attitude. This is equally important to acting ability and it will show up on set when relationships are strained.
  • Spend time before production starts in rehearsal. Unionized actors may charge for time spent before an audition becoming acquainted with a script, but rehearsals before production are extremely useful and will ultimately save time/money.
  • When directing, try to avoid giving actors a list of things to “do”. Giving them a motive which naturally leads to those specific things you’re looking for is much more honest and powerful. It may seem to make you less ‘impressive’ as a director, but get the actors together and everyone on the same page about who the characters are and what the scene is and then aim to give them as little direction as possible. For dramatic acting, it’s often offensive to tell an actor what to do. For corporate video work, it may be essential. If you’re using employees or untrained actors, the key is often to make sure they don’t try acting.
  • Directing is about trusting your instinct and knowing what works.
  • Be confident in your opinion, and ultimately serve the need of the spot you’re making above all else. Don’t ‘overHollywood’ it to be cool.
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