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Be Positive

Staging the Independent Movie Shoot

Scott Shaw

This is a checklist that I pass out to my students when I teach courses on Independent Filmmaking. You may find it helpful in preparing for your next film shoot.
Note: Due to the auto formatting of the web this outline is not presented in the expected configuration. But the information is all here
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I. The Key Elements:
A. Location
B. Camera
C. Sound
D. Lighting
E. Cast

II. Location:
List of criteria:
A. Does it look the way you want it to look?
B. Can you make it look the way you want it to look?
C. Are you able and willing to spend the money to make it look the way you want it to look?

III. At the location:
A. Choose a location where you will not be bothered.
1. That usually costs money.
B. Stealing locations:
1. The world is available to you—you just have to go for it...
a. As long as you keep your cast and crew small you have as much right to be anywhere as anybody else.
b. You cannot lock into any location if you do not have permits. Be willing to move to a new location if you encounter any problems.
1. The problem with this style of filmmaking is that it may make some of the castmembers uncomfortable.

IV. The Camera:
A. Using the camera.
1. Always practice with a camera before you take it to a set.
B. Tripod
C. Monitor
1. Make sure all of your equipment is fully functional.

V. Sound:
A. What are the sound acoustics?
1. Will you be able to record sync sound?
B. Every location has particular sound issues, even if you rent a location.
1. Practice recording at the location before you actually film there.
C. Can you adapt for any sound problems at your locations?
D. If you end up with sound problems do you have the ability to fix them in post?

VI. Lighting:
A. What are you going to use to light the location?
1. Artificial light.
a. If you run into technical problems can you adapt to a new process of lighting?
2. Natural light.
a. Always try to use as much natural light as possible.
1. It is free and you will not blow a bulb.


VII. Cast:
A. Do you know your cast?
1. If you know your cast you can anticipate what to expect.
B. What expectations does your cast possess?
1. Can you meet those expectations?
C. How are you going to keep your cast content?
1. What will you provide for them?
a. Food
d. Drink
c. Seating
d. Shelter