Shooting Schedule – Keep or Throw?

Based on my last post, I received another question regarding clients and client relations. My last post discussed those who like to include a little too much information into their videos. This particular question focuses on clients who can’t stick with the shooting schedule. Here’s the question:

My client is very knowledgeable about his business, but won’t follow a cut sheet to save their lives! We’ve been there to give directions and they are great about that. However, any general advice on how to shoot this smoothly (even w/o the cut sheets) so the post production isn’t a hair puller?

Let me first say that video shoots rarely stay on schedule. Once you get on location, things can get shuffled around and your day can run late. So, don’t panic if you’re at the end of the first day and you haven’t accomplished all that you hoped. I have written some articles on this blog that discuss shooting schedules. Hopefully you can find some valuable info in my archives that will help you schedule your video shoots.

Second, when you’re talking to your client about the shooting schedule, try approaching the subject from a financial angle. Staying true to the shot list will help everything run more efficiently, which will save your client money. I always tell clients that spending the time in pre-production to create and maintain a solid shooting schedule is vital to staying on budget.

Third, realize that many times you will simply have to “go with the flow.” As I said earlier, things fluctuate. Often, the activity on location will dictate how and what you shoot, not the other way around. For example, while working on a video project for a manufacturing company, I simply had to shoot the action as it happened. I couldn’t tell the foreman, “Hey, we need to shoot ‘X’ at station 2 right now,” because the manufacturing process has its own schedule. Sometimes there was no activity at station 2. I simply had to stay flexible and go where the action was. It did mean I had to jump around quite a bit, but that’s part of the documentary process. Sometimes it can’t be contained in a nice, neat shot list.

If you find that you are shooting your project in this style, remember to do one of two things (doing both would be even better):

  1. Maintain a running log of what’s been shot
  2. Slate everything (simply write down on a piece of paper what the camera is looking at, hold it up in front of the camera, and film it for a few seconds, just for reference).

Having a reference marker in your footage will help tremendously in post-production. That way, your editor can easily match up your shot with what’s mentioned in the script. Let’s say your video is for a drilling company and the script reads, “With our new, state-of-the-art Hole-Maker 9000, we can…” Well, if your editor has hours of footage showing different types of machinery, how is he/she supposed to know which piece of footage is the Hole-Maker 9000?

Yes, staying on schedule will make everyone happier and it will keep production costs down, but remaining open to new possibilities means that you may find a great storyline when you least expect it.

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2 Responses to “Shooting Schedule – Keep or Throw?”

  1. Beth Sowell says:

    We have similar issues at shoots trying to stay on schedule, but you just have to rearrange a bit here and there and go with the flow. We make notes on the schedule when we’ve moved things around so editing will run more smoothly. Using a labeled clapper between scenes helps as well.

  2. Clint says:

    Beth, I agree about the clapper. Your editor will definitely appreciate it when you slate your shots.

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