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How to Prepare for Marketing Video Shoots

Buy a production notebook to make your film or video marketing production extremely well organized. A good old-fashioned, three-ring notebook, the type often carried by schoolchildren, works perfectly. It’s the perfect one-stop spot to store all your shoot-related information, and it will soon become your new best friend.

Stock your production notebook with these items:

  • Dividers: Add instant organization, and make the items you need during the shoot easy to find.

  • Pens and pencils: Pens are the first thing you lose, so be sure to have more than one.

  • Blank paper: You may need scratch paper or sheets of paper to illustrate shots.

  • An envelope: Store the receipts from your expenditures.

After you have a production notebook, store these items in it:

  • Script: Your copy of the dialogue to be used in the shoot should always stay with you so that you can make notes, change the dialogue, or stay abreast of scenes that have been shot.

  • Call sheet: This is a list of your cast and crew’s arrival times on set. If you expect them to arrive at different times, keep track of their schedules.

  • Cast and crew contact sheet: This list of contact information (such as e-mail addresses and phone numbers) is the easiest way to ensure that participants can contact each other.

  • Schedule: A schedule is useful when a number of cast or crew members are arriving on the same day and you want to better schedule the shoot, by determining which scenes to shoot and when, and when to let everyone take a break.

  • Talent releases: Keep the legal paperwork ready so that you can request the necessary signatures to use the cast’s likenesses in your video.

  • Storyboard: This series of panels shows the individual shots within a scene. Keep the storyboard handy to show your crew the shots you want.

  • Prop and costume list: Double-check this list after the shooting day ends to ensure that all items are returned to the appropriate person or place.

  • Script breakdown: List cast members, props, costumes, and types of shots for every individual scene, and specify whether the scene is an interior or exterior scene.

  • Cast breakdown: This reverse version of the script breakdown lists actors and the scenes in which they appear. Creating this list helps you schedule the shooting order of scenes.

Though the script breakdown and cast breakdown may be unnecessary for a simple shoot, if you have multiple scenes and actors, consider the breakdowns as insurance against losing important elements of the shoot. (We’ve seen actors released from a shoot for the day only to find that they were still needed for another scene later the same day.)

The night before your shoot, complete these tasks:

  • Charge all batteries. Power up all related devices, such as your camera, lights, laptop, and cellphone.

  • Clear out any reusable media. If your camera records video to SD cards, format them (otherwise known as erasing them) and clear some space. If you’re shooting on tape, ensure that you have more than enough to shoot on.

  • Double-check your equipment. Quickly test your camera, lights, and microphone. Ensure that every item works and that the all equipment and accessories are available.

  • Pack props and costumes. Don’t wait until the morning of the shoot to pack everything!

  • Make copies of the script. While you’re at it, take the extra step of labeling every copy individually for your cast and crew.

  • Stock up on cash. Withdraw cash from a nearby ATM so that you can purchase food, water, extra batteries, last-minute cab rides, and any other necessities you may need for the shoot. This is where the receipt envelope comes in handy.

  • Confirm call times. Call, text, or e-mail all participants to ensure that they know when and where to show up.

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