As adventure filmmakers, we are constantly on the move often utilizing a run and gun style of approach. It’s not uncommon for us to find ourselves in boats, or hanging out of cars to capture a shot. For example, this summer we have been producing a short film called “Life Is Motion” for DJI (soon to be released on their channel). Two of the scenes were captured hanging out of cars shooting with the Ronin.
Because no two stories we tell are ever the same, our ability to adapt determines whether or not we can capture the moment. Not to mention that that moment will never happen again, or at least not in that way. It’s up to you to be prepared for what will come.
Being prepared for what situations throw at you comes long before the shoot itself. Pre production is often overlooked when it comes to photography and filmmaking, but we’d easily consider it the most important part of the process. Walking through scenarios is absolutely essential. When doing this, it’s important to take note of the environment you will be in and the demands it may potentially have. Is it going to rain? Can you get usable audio in the room you’ll be in? The list goes on. According to Murphy’s Law, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Preparing properly will make or break your shoot.
We’ve all heard it… “Less is more.” This can be applied in so many areas of life, but especially in run and gun filmmaking. This is why making sure you have the right gear (and not too much gear I’ll add) is so important. We tend to like to condense all our gear to a single backpack per individual. Sticking by these guidelines allowed us to keep up with the action while working with G-technology for their first virtual reality production in Oakland, California earlier this summer. Having a reliable camera backpack is one of the simplest, yet best tools you can have. Our primary bag of choice is the Manfrotto Pro-Light 3N1-35. This bag allows us to stay light and nimble, while still having a well-rounded small camera package. Our gear list typically consists of:
Canon 5d miii
16-35mm 2.8 L
24-70mm 2.8 L
MacBook Pro 13”
Rode video mic pro
G-Technology ATC rugged hard drive 1TB
2 Manfrotto Spectra900 Bicolor Lights
The Pro-Light 35 is always our first “go to” bag. We can easily house enough gear for capturing on the fly footage. After we pack that bag, we will load up our second bag, the Manfrotto Pro-Light Bumblebee 220. We put this bag on the second shooter loaded with a second camera, longer lenses, more accessories, and a tripod or monopod strapped on the back.
Once you have your bags packed, it’s good to take inventory on everything you have with and get a good feel for where everything is located. By making sure your gear is easily accessible, you’ll save time when on set. A big time inhibitor is having to go through that process while on a shoot. This can slow you down to the point that you miss the most valuable footage.
The moral of the story is to pack light, and invest time into pre-production so that shooting can go as seamless as possible. As a general rule, we’ve found that for every five minutes of pre-production planning, you can easily save yourself 20 minutes or more of hassle when out in the field. This will allow you to stay present, and capture the moment in front of you.