Video production: What’s important versus what’s urgent

Feb 12, 2018
Video Production

It’s 3.30 a.m. and the alarm attempts to gently wake me up for another day of filming. 

I reach for the high-vis costume, throw in some contact lenses and pull on the very classy steelcapped boots. Then I triple-check the gear, tumble into an Uber and sip on my airport long black before taking flight with multiple bleary-eyed FIFO workers all heading to work up North.

It’s hard to believe pressing the record button is still two hours away – not to mention the filming requirements of seven interviews to be filmed before we get back on our 2 p.m. flight.

It’s here I draw upon a classic little 1960s booklet I once read called Tyranny of the Urgent. In it, the author, Charles Hummel, highlights that there is a regular tension between things that are urgent and things that are important – and far too often, the urgent wins.

When it comes to filming, the list of requirements can all very quickly appear to be important. So, I take a deep breath, lean on my friend the clock and work backward to figure how much time I actually have to do everything.

FURTHER READING: Video Production: 3 Essentials for Indoor Filming

I sit in silence for about five minutes calculating how much time I have to scout locations, conduct interviews, set up and reset the camera, make sure sound is okay and ensure that everyone is not feeling stressed through the whole process.

So, what is important on the day of filming? Here is my list of important elements needed on any given day of filming a corporate video.

Have a contact on the ground with a company representative

Make sure there is always a point of contact or someone from the company on location. They are like traffic lights to the busy freeway of filming, and as a producer, I look to this person during the whole day of filming. They provide me with the quick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on where we can and can’t film. They enable the filming schedule to progress with minimal delays, and if problems or queries arise, they’re able to call the head office and dissolve any situation.

Scout the locations

Working out where to film and having a few options of different backgrounds in semi-quiet locations takes around 10 to 15 minutes. It’s important that the producer, camera operator and point of contact are happy with the different options. Keep in mind every interview needs to have a different background so the final product is full of multi-layered variations that keep the viewer engaged. 

Allow for set-up

I wish I had a magic wand that could set up all our gear with a flick of the wrist but, alas, I don’t. Setting up the camera, tripod, lights and reflectors and attaching microphones takes around 15 minutes. This process also has to happen every time you change locations or interviews. I liken it to creating the base of cheesecake; it takes time, but without it, your cheesecake (or video) is likely to collapse because it hasn’t been done right.

Interviews first

Where possible, I make sure the filming of all interviews is done first. More often than not the people who are roped into filming a corporate video have never done an on-camera interview in their entire lives. Making sure they feel comfortable and get the right words is a challenge and takes time. Depending on the number of questions, I try to allow 20 to 30 minutes per interview for a two-minute video. As a producer, I’m looking for responses that are honest, clear and not too lengthy. Sometimes getting this means I have to ask the question three or four times (sorry in advance).

Getting the overlay or B-roll

If I can, I save this part till last as we can always come back and get more footage at a later date. It’s not my preference at all, but reorganising interviews is much harder. If I don’t have this luxury, I try and get the fabulous camera operator to film a very quick and easy sequence of the person being interviewed. By sequence I mean the person walking across the location, or talking to another colleague or even the classic shot of chopping vegetables.

If your filming day gets a little frazzled, try to take a quick moment and remember what is important, over what is urgent.

If you want to work with a producer who knows all the tricks for a successful and efficient filming day for your next corporate video, get in touch with Lush.