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10 Tips for Shooting Video in Memphis

Posted by Kim Moseman on September 19, 2017

Memphis, Tennessee is about as rockin’ and rollin’ as a city can get. Memphians love barbecue and Elvis with a passion. With a rich musical history and traditional southern roots, Memphis is full of character and good times that reflect strongly on video. But what should you know before you shoot video in Blues City?

We talked to Memphis local and DP Richard Copley about making the most of shooting video in Memphis.

  • 1. Permits: Permits are required on a case-by-case basis. Memphis and Shelby County Film/TV Commission ask that you contact them if you are shooting B-roll on Beale Street, using a drone, shooting on city/county property, or requiring uniformed assistance to film. There is roughly a 72-hour turnaround time for permits, so call in advance. For more inquiries on permits, visit this website.
  • 2. Music: “Memphis music runs the gamut, from blues to soul to rockabilly,” Copley said. There are live performances every night all over the city featuring all sorts of musical genres. Making a stop at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music will not only expose you to a chunk of music history but also provide excellent B-roll of the bright Stax red sign that welcomes you at the entrance.
  • 3. Beale Street: Located in Downtown Memphis, this bustling street is often referred to as “the Official Home of the Blues” and “Tennessee’s Top Tourism Attraction.” There is always something happening on this street, which makes for exciting shots that show off the spirit of Memphis. In your spare time, there are many shops and restaurants to enjoy.
  • 4. Mississippi River: Memphis is located along the Mississippi River, which offers a ton of opportunities for B-roll. Whether you capture a shot of this body of water from Big River Crossing, Tom Lee Park, or Butler Park, you can walk away with stunning landscape shots.
  • 5. Transportation: Getting around Memphis is fairly hassle-free. When it comes to transporting equipment, renting a car or van would be the most ideal for a crew. Downtown daily parking rates are some of the lowest in the country. Currently, many of the vintage electric trolleys are undergoing repairs, but the Downtown Trolley Shuttle buses can surely get you where you need to go for just $1.
  • 6. National Civil Rights Museum: Located at the infamous Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, this museum includes complex exhibits and historic buildings. Its mission is to share the lessons of the American Civil Rights Movement. This museum is iconic to Memphis and many will travel from all over the world to visit and experience the interactive exhibits. It is definitely a unique place to capture on film while in Memphis.
  • 7. Sun Records: “Sun Records is Memphis’s birth place of Rock & Roll,” Copley said. Elvis Presley, B.B. King, and Johnny Cash all recorded albums at this legendary location. Sun Records is one of Memphis’s most sacred landmarks and an absolute must-see while in the city. You can also plan a tour at this historic landmark by clicking hereShooting video in Memphis
  • 8. Hernando de Soto Bridge: Named for the 16th-century Spanish explorer who explored this region of the Mississippi River, this bridge is an iconic shot for the city. Carrying Interstate 40 over the Mississippi River, you will most likely cross over this historic bridge at least once during your visit. The arches within this structure that stand strong over the Mississippi River offer amazing shots for B-roll.
  • 9. Weather: You will enjoy all four seasons in Memphis. Winters are not bitterly cold and summers are known to be hot and humid. The majority of extreme weather happens from March to May and in November. There is always a chance of rain in Tennessee, but the Mid-South has enough variability that the saying “If you don’t like the weather, stick around, it will change!” holds true.
  • 10. Food: There are a variety of great restaurants in Memphis, but the city has one reoccurring food you absolutely need to get while there: barbecue. “I have to tell you, Memphis is the Bar-B-Q Capital!” Copley said. “Visit Cozy Corner, Rendezvous Ribs, the Barbecue Shop, Payne’s, or Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Q to name a few.”

If you need a crew for your next video shoot in Memphis, simply click here for a free quote!

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