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Top Tips for Shooting on Location

Posted by Meredith Kain on May 18, 2015

Every month we feature a different city around the world and our favorite need-to-know tips for shooting there from our local crews, but there are some tips that are universal to every location. This time around, we’re giving you some of our own favorite tips. I chatted with the talented and knowledgeable Production Managers here at Crews Control, and here are some of our top tips for shooting on location:

“If you’re shooting internationally, choosing the right date can make or break your shoot. For example, Spring and Autumn Golden Weeks in China means the whole country is traveling. Check for holidays that may be unknown to you, but important to your interviewees and crew. Using resources like http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/ can help you avoid possible conflicts,” says Valerie Nolan, Vice President of Production

Be prepared! You never know what could happen when you’re on location for a shoot. It may seem trivial, but having a medical kit on hand is critical. “I always carry an ice pack, gauze, alcohol wipes, anti-bacterial gel, and adhesive and ace bandages with me on shoots,” says Production Manager Cricket Capucci. “I was once working a wake boarding show and one of the skiers came in too fast – he hit the dock and cut his foot. Since I had my first-aid supplies on hand, I was able to help him out until a medical crew could get to the dock.”

Different locations have different requirements, so always check with your location first. “Some require a COI from the crew prior to shooting,” according to Production Manager Becky Holzman Garzone. “You’ll need time to contact your insurance agency to get the building listed under your COI beforehand.” Another thing you’ll need to check on? Union requirements. Becky tells me a lot of hotels and conference centers are buckling down on union rules. “If you arrive with a non-union crew at a union hotel or conference center, you will be required to pay for a shadow or forced to cancel the shoot entirely. Don’t go in without knowing.”

Another great tip is travel logistics for shooting of the beaten path. “Every once in a while, we’ll book shoots that are so far out there we’re just given location coordinates,” says Production Manager Brittany Conley. “Make sure the roads leading out to your shoot can accommodate your vehicles. Tight roads are difficult to navigate with a big van and can negatively impact your time for loading on and off.”

A tip from yours truly? Power, power, power. Back in my days of being an audio engineer, I would always scope out locations beforehand for power sources. Nothing is more frustrating than showing up to a location and finding that all of the power outlets by the stage (or wherever you need) are two-pronged. Even worse? Finding no outlets at all. This is where surge protecting power strips and extension cords come in handy – they’re invaluable tools to keep with your gear. Some places I would go as far as using a VOM (volt-ohm meter) to test available outlets – especially in older/historic locations. If you’re going wireless, have backup batteries for ALL of your gear, especially your computer if you’re expected to do any editing on-site. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s something that can easily fall through the cracks.

When it comes to information and location shooting, Crews Controls’ Production Managers are my top reference. What are your favorite tips for shooting on location? Let us know in the comments below or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


  1. Great info, keep it coming!
    One tip I have for location shoots, especially if they are just pick up shots.
    I always keep a plastic trash bag in my back pocket.
    I can't tell you how many times it has saved my camera from an unexpected downpour, dust storm, or ocean spray.
    Any of these things can bring your camera and production to a screeching halt.
    It cost nothing, and is great insurance for your camera!

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