Winging It

If ever we thought about trading in our faithful shooting script for the glamorous storyboard, we shall remind ourselves of a shoot we did for another video production company.

Now, generally the advantage of working as hired crew is that we pretty much turn up and shoot. All very simple for the majority of jobs we do as hired crew, which is multi-camera vision-mixed coverage of events. But from time to time our crew are taken on to film for other video production companies, producers or directors. And that’s where it can get interesting!

The particular job we have in mind was for British Trust Hotels. Our technical crew were hired to work under the producer and director of another video production company to film a hotel induction video. It was an enormous job! The video was to comprise of many sections covering staff training in all the different departments of the hotel i.e. reception, housekeeping, restaurant, kitchen, bar as well as health and safety etc. The hotel relied heavily on seasonal staff therefore the video was to be a comprehensive training tool!

However, all we had to go by was a storyboard. This was two pages of A4 paper containing a maximum of four images per department. That was it! The rest of it was what we would call “winging it” where the plan of what, where and how we would cover the training information was being worked out as we went along. As a result such an unnecessary amount of filming time was spent thinking not doing. And another great chunk was spent to-ing and fro-ing around the hotel given that filming had to be carried out in the order of story development and not in any logical geographical manner. People needed for filming were on standby for the entire day as there was no way of knowing when we would get to whatever we would be doing. The other great frustration about having no shooting script in place meant that we were asked to film absolutely everything that moved “just in case”!

It was agony!! And it was startlingly obvious that this filming was not, and would never have been, achievable in two days – not using this approach anyway! Eventually we stepped in and pretty much ‘produced’ the whole video for them using the skills and experience we know make successful productions. Every free minute was spent developing bits of shooting scripts and filming schedules as we would have done, and had signed off by the client, prior to setting foot in the hotel to film.

Our crew were mentally and physically exhausted after what was miraculously only a three (fourteen-hour!) day shoot in the end. And we vowed never to skip the all-important pre-production process or attempt to head out filming without a shooting script and filming schedule.

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