How To Prevent Issues When Supplying or Hiring Camera Crews And Kit: A Checklist

Organising crews and kit for shoots can present a host of possible issues. Here is a checklist I have found extremely helpful – I’m passing it on in the hope you’ll find it useful too.

First, make sure in advance that you have the right crew and kit for the job. This means having the full details for the shoot ahead of time and being aware of everything your client expects you to deliver. If it’s your own project, think of everything you’ll need to get the material you want.

I have seen crews show up without lights because they were told all filming would be done outdoors – only to find three interviews needed to be filmed indoors. Or a sound recordist shows up on location with a standard production sound kit and discovers he needs six radio microphones when the two he normally brings generally cover typical requirements.

Getting these details is not always easy. A standard list of questions can help:

What is the end use of the material?
What will we be shooting?
Where will we be shooting?
Indoors or outdoors?
Interviews? How many subjects at a time?
Where will the interviews be done?
Any tracking or jib shots needed?
Handheld shots needed? Camera stabiliser?
What are the sound requirements?

If possible, even if a client does not request lights, I would recommend always taking a basic interview lighting kit. And a spare radio mic package. Those two sets of kit can help sort many unexpected requests made on location.

Once you have the details for a shoot, you can also better match the crew to the job. If the cameraman is expected to run around with a camera on his shoulder all day, a fitness nut who likes this kind of work is your man. Match the skill set and strengths to the job.

Ideally, arrange for the cameraman to speak to the producer or director before the shoot to go over the details. This conversation can help identify any specific requirements for kit or additional crew.

Before the job, send an email to the client with the list of crew and kit you’ll be supplying and get the client to confirm the list covers everything they need. Best to sort out anything missing before the shoot rather than on location.

And when you schedule the call time, have the crew arrive 15-20 minutes early (or more). This offers some strong benefits:

If there is any delay on the way to the job, the crew has a 15-20 minute buffer
If the crew gets to where they think the location is – but it’s tricky to find – they have time to deal with any confusion
If the crew gets to the location early, they have time to sort parking, unload, confirm any security arrangements and check out the location

Following the procedures above has helped me many times. I hope there’s something above that you can apply.

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