This article’s objective is to prove to you that you don’t always have to spend and spend. A talented,swinging crew, great ideas and implementation and lots of your free time can create some amazing masterpieces.
Finding your Crew
If you’re passionate about your video project, you’ll find it easy to connect with others who feel the same way. Low budget film projects can be the most exciting because they require a lot of creativity. They’re educational for all involved. If you take good care of your crew – feed them and entertain them and make sure they have fun – they will be ready to go the extra mile to make sure you get great results.
A producer’s job is to supervise production, making sure that the right people, equipment and resources come together at the right time. Producers need good business sense, an understanding of the industry and a lot of drive. They need to organise studio access, pick the right cast and crew, and deal with any major difficulties that arise as the film is being made.
A director has creative control over the development of a film and is responsible for supervising what happens on set. It’s useful if directors are familiar with other aspects of production so they have the technical skill to arrange camera movements, sound and lighting effectively as well as working with actors. The director decides when material is up to standard and makes sure enough material is shot to give the editor flexible options later.
The Production Manager
Production managers make sure that everything runs smoothly on set and that everybody has what they need. They usually have assistants they can send to fetch things as required, and it is their job to find a solution if something breaks or goes missing.
The Camera Operator
The camera operator takes direction from the director, DOP or cinematographer. Good camera operators have extensive knowledge of their craft and can recommend lenses, filters and other equipment conducive to getting the best results on the available budget. In a digital shoot, a digital image technician (DIT) may also be needed in order to manage the feed from the camera.
The Sound Technician
The sound technician is responsible for recording audio effectively, keeping microphones and other sound equipment out of shot and, in a small production team, supervising dubbing and adding further audio effects later as required.Having more people (especially on camera) will give you more flexibility, but with these essential crew members and a good assistant, you’re ready to go.
Getting the Crew on Board
If you can’t pay very much, it’s always going to be a challenge to get talented people on board and to keep them there through any difficulties on set. The best way to do so it to be honest about your situation and encourage people to be involved at a creative level. Show an understanding of what they do and be specific about what you hope to achieve.If you have a good plan for publicising your video, you will find it easier to get people involved, as it could provide them with good publicity and boost their career prospects. Consider what you could do to improve their visibility. Submitting your work to film festivals, for instance, is fairly easy to do and can attract positive attention to their work.Look for crew members with multiple skills so that you can work with a smaller team overall. Ask the studio you’re shooting in if its staff can assist with smaller jobs or advise on technical issues.
Some good places to find crews:
• Production Base – has easily to access profiles and is great for mini showreels and ‘at a glance’ job hunting. Has well used message boards and Low to No pay listings, with individuals keen to put their kit into use
• Mandy.com – has a great section on freelancers looking for experience. Has been around for ages and has a great deal of production advice as well as lots of contacts.
• Shooting People – is great for intercontinental networking and advice. Prides itself as the market leader.
• LinkedIn – Reaches out to the film community and has excellent forums with discussions on many relevant topics.
• Network Events – Expo’s, film festivals and universities are great places to hunt down diamonds in the rough. Production Base runs a good annual network event at which you can chat to cast, crew and 3rd party suppliers.
Finding the right kit for the job
Many freelance camera operators, sound technicians and cinematographers have their own kit. Working with people like this can significantly decrease production costs.Larger kit rental houses can cost a lot of money. They may charge high delivery rates and ask for large deposits, refundable after the kit is returned. You may need to open an account before you can work with them, so they are not ideal for all types of shoots.
Know what to look for
DSLR’s (Canon 5D mrk3) or the Canon c300 range give excellent results and offer some great lens options. They are easy to use and have so much dynamic range that adjusting colours and keying in post is much easier. The C300 range requires some work in post but it is better for keying in the camera’s EOS Std setting. The greens pop out a lot more. The new black magic cinema offers some beautiful footage but there are some problems with its functionality.All camera options involve compromise and are ultimately limited by the size of the budget. RED epics require a DIT/data wrangler to manage the work flow. DSLR’s have less colour space to work. They may also have limited inputs and offer limited control of audio levels.If you can use only one lens only then an 18mm to 55mm lens is the best choice, as it offers adequate range for most shoots. A 50mm prime lens can also give you a good range of shots.Good lighting is essential, significantly increasing your creative options and asking you video look more professional. A 3x redhead kit can provide standard three point lighting and is good for most sets ups.A decent storage device will be needed to go with the camera. Remember to format the hard drive so it can work on either PC or Mac. This article tells you what you need to know to do this. A good monitor makes it easier to follow what’s going on. You can get by with a good quality TV with HDMI inputs (if the camera outputs HDMI).This should give you the basics of what you need. When sourcing equipment – and even props – keep in mind that many people will be willing to give you extras if you ask nicely. Your cast and crew may also be willing to help out with useful contacts. By bringing all these talents together, you will soon be ready to make your video, and to make it well.
Written by Sam Parkinson, Studio Manager/Fixer