Any film or video production, at some point, reaches the point of total chaos. Whether you’re shooting a gritty documentary, a corporate video, a product commercial, or a feature film, pandemonium is usually the common denominator.
The endless gauntlet of questions and conflicts waiting around the corner of every shoot will always be there. The good news: There’s a trick to achieving a solid, high-quality film or video production in the center of this seemingly perfect storm. You just have to put people first…all of ‘em.
Film and video production are collaborative by nature, requiring a team of talents to complete. A book may be written by one author, but a team of agents, publishers, and publicists is required to actually get it out there. Similarly, whether you’re in the concept development stage or in post-production, there’ll always be a team of skill sets needed to get things done.
How you deal with this mix of personalities will be a huge determining factor in the execution of your production, and how it’s received.
The why must be common knowledge.
First off, everyone must know why they’re involved. They must be informed of, or help in the initial development of, the reasons for undertaking this project and what it’s all about. Brainstorming to come up with a group of keywords to reference later, which serve as the larger themes of the piece, can help keep the project on track.
The why, once made universal knowledge among the crew, is like a filter for everyone to look through later when confusion or questions arise. You can just remind people of what they all agreed was worthwhile about this project and what they’re all working towards.
Know your weaknesses and delegate accordingly.
With film and video production being such a collaborative art, it doesn’t help to work under the belief that you’re the strongest in every aspect of filmmaking. Instead, know your weak points. Your opinion isn’t the be-all and end-all of every topic that comes up.
You have to make sure you’re optimizing the talents and abilities of each of your crew members. If you allow everyone to contribute their strengths to the project, it will only help heighten the overall quality. Also, it’s not enough that everyone plays a vital role, you need to make sure that they know their contribution is crucial, which brings me to the next point.
Open your ears and listen.
Open lines of communication are integral to the success of any film or video production. When they have a say, the crew feels reassured that their hard work is necessary and appreciated. You need to open your ears to their voices and your mind to other ways of thinking that may better serve the project.
The bombardment of questions and concerns can seem overwhelming, so it takes a distinct skill to prioritize the importance of issues and answer accordingly. You must be swift with your decisions or they’ll quickly pile up.
How you converse with your crew is another matter altogether. If you’re brief and snappy, they’ll think you’re brushing their thoughts aside. If you’re too passive, you run the risk of the crew losing confidence in your direction.
Communication isn’t just vital for the production crew. The cast or interviewees may also have something extra to offer, but it can be difficult to hear their suggestions among the barrage of questions and conflicts.
Create an atmosphere that encourages inspiration.
People can get a little weird on camera. Interviewees in documentaries, especially, are usually more comfortable and natural off camera and, once they spot that little red light on, they stiffen up like a board.
It’s your job to create an environment that cultivates a more natural atmosphere for the people in front of the camera. If that means sitting just out of frame providing emotional support or taking a break between takes to sit down and have an emotional discussion to revitalize their passion and energy, it’s worth the effort.
You also want to leave the doors open to new and unforeseen developments that may take the film or video production in an entirely new direction. You need to be willing to dig deeper to get at the true heart of any story. It’s easy to stop with the more convenient, faster interview than to thoroughly mine the territory for hidden gems that may take the project to the next level.
This also entails listening. There may be a truly sympathetic character out there with a heart-wrenching story that would serve as the core of your piece, but you need to be open to alterations and ideas to see it; that’s easier said than done.
Take a few to regroup.
Sometimes, someone just needs to say it. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em; those welcomed words that indicate everyone’s taking a break. It may seem like a waste of time, but it can mean just the opposite. A 5 minute break can ultimately save a lot more time than that.
On most shoots, you reach a point where everyone has had too much. They’ll forge on, yes, but like robot zombies waiting to be pushed in whatever direction you need them to go. A quick break gives you a chance to remind everyone how important all their hard work is and refresh their drive.
Also, it gives you the chance to see if, or how far, you’ve drifted from your decided-upon themes. You can make any necessary adjustments and get back to the necessary tone.
The bottom line is, every film and video production is, at least in some way, inherently insane. You need to learn how to control the chaos. If you put people first and make sure everyone’s on the same page, has a vital role and voice, and you cultivate an environment open to inspiration, you can actually end up with something better than you ever expected. There is a method to the madness that is making a movie.
P.S. – Keep an eye out for KVibe’s first full-length feature film, Walt Before Mickey, coming out later this year and visit the official movie site to learn more or to pre-order your DVD copy of the film.
KVibe Productions is a full-service video production company. Whether it’s a product video production, a corporate video, a feature film, or a commercial production, KVibe offers the total package of multimedia services from development through distribution.