by Aaron Bray and Shun-Yuan Tsai
If you are in film school, chances are you will find yourself on a film set at some point in your education. Regardless of the type of film you are making, the more order and efficiency there is during the shoot, the smoother that shoot will run.
Coming fresh off the shoot of our Masters Thesis film, “Bad Magic,” we have experienced learning what can work well on a student film shoot, sometimes learning the hard way. As a result of our experience, we have developed some “best practices” that you can adopt to ensure your own shoot will run more smoothly.
- Scout early, scout often
After a scouting trip with our instructor, it became clear one of our original secured locations wasn’t going to work out for our shoot. In hindsight, having alternate locations already prepared would have saved us a great deal of stress. Make sure the location you have is a solid choice; if it’s not, consider all of your options.
- Meet with cast and key crew members before shooting day.
Three words can sum up the best way to prepare for a thesis shoot: “Meetings, meetings, meetings.” Production meetings may not be fun, but trust us, falling behind schedule or having production break down due to lack of communication is infinitely less fun.
- Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork.
By the time production rolls around, you should already have your shooting schedule for the duration of the shoot well-secured. In addition to the shooting schedule, send out call sheets with any updated changes the night before the shooting day at the latest. Cast and crew work better when they know where they need to be, and when they need to be there.
- Feed People!
While we are on the subject of making your cast and crew happy, the easiest way to their hearts is through their stomachs. Greet your crew on morning call with coffee, donuts, and your smiling face, and they can work hard for you all day (especially if they are working for free).
- Be Prepared for Things to go Wrong.
Things can (and WILL!) not go according to plan on a film set, especially a student production. It is a learning experience; many of your crew members may be doing their jobs for the first time. You can save yourself headaches by brainstorming all the possible things that could go wrong, and what you will do when that happens.
Don’t forget, above all, filmmaking should be fun! Following these simple guidelines can help keep the process a fun and enjoyable one.
About the authors:
Shun-Yuan Tsai is earning her MFA in Film Production at Full Sail University, and was the Art Director for the Masters Thesis film, “Bad Magic.” She likes long bike rides and period dramas.
Aaron Bray is earning his MFA in Film Production at Full Sail University, and was the Producer for the Masters Thesis film, “Bad Magic.” He likes walks on the beach and vegan sushi.