Luck Favors The Prepared

Shooting a video project with a small crew can be a challenge, especially when you are shooting out-of-state and you have a very tight schedule. You don't want to find yourself out on location without the proper gear. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you find yourself on an out-of-state shoot with an exceptionally small crew and an incredibly tight schedule:

  1. Ship Ahead - If you are working with your own gear, don't fly with it. The airline charges are outrageous. Ship everything ahead to your hotel (except cameras and lenses; you can fit those into your carry-on). Be sure you ship at least a week before you check in.
  2. Rent - Online rental houses, like, are incredibly convenient. If you don't have personal gear for the shoot (or if you don't feel like using your personal gear), just rent what you need ahead of time and have the company ship the gear to your hotel. You will be responsible for shipping the gear back, so give yourself enough time after the shoot to drop the gear at a local FedEx. 
  3. Rent Local - For larger items, you might want to rent locally and have them deliver the items to your hotel. This is convenient if you need, let's say, a magliner for transporting your gear while you are in town. 
  4. Be Prepared - No matter how much you prepare, there will always be surprises that pop up while you are on a shoot. Make sure you are covered. This is especially true when selecting lenses for your camera. You will need a variety of focal lengths to meet whatever shooting situation you find yourself in. Talking with the client and the producer during pre-production will help you get a better understanding of the size/scope of the shoot and what exactly you will be shooting. For a standard short-form marketing/corporate piece or documentary, you might want to have the following lenses on hand: - 50mm prime, 85mm prime, and 24-105mm. These should cover the basics. From this starting point you could add a 16-35mm and perhaps a 200mm zoom.  

The key is to strike the right balance between being portable/efficient and being prepared. Go over the shoot in thorough detail with the client and producer. Know exactly what you're getting in to. Make a list of everything you think you will need for the shoot, then edit it down to the bare essentials (without compromising preparedness). Review the list with the producer to ensure that everything is accounted for. Remember, luck favors the prepared.