Traveling for Photo and Video Shoots — 12 Mission Critical Tips for Pre-Production

So you’re going on the road to shoot photos/videos for fun or for a client? Kate here again, Executive Producer over here at Team Chase. This is part 2 of 4 on how to make it happen. In my last post, I shared 10 Mission Critical Tips for Booking Photo and Video Travel, which focused on getting you there. Now it’s time to dive in to your production.

12 tips for your Destination Production

1. Plan early! I am a firm believer that, with time, you can solve most production challenges. So, do yourself an enormous favor and allow yourself as much time as possible. Here are some of your very first to do items when you pull the trigger on traveling.

2. Do your homework. Educate yourself about where you are going. The more you know, the better off you will be. Read, talk to people, get recommendations, look at maps. Cast the net wide and gather information about the city, getting around, the lay of the land, time change, phone and internet, the kinds of electrical plugs needed, language, currency, local customs.
Great sources of info:
_US Department of State Travel Site:
_local film commission where you are headed. They promote and regulate filming in their area and can provide info on services, permit process, locations. a production directory & guide

3.Budget to Build in some Contingency Funds. Whether you are working for a client or doing personal travel or work, you should make a budget and try to stick to it BUT also allow for a buffer. When you are on the road, opportunities come up, problems need to be solved and things will change. It’s best to plan on it and know how much wiggle room you have.

4. Get in with the locals. Local production companies are the bomb!!! A local production company can give you access to knowledge and resources that would take literally years to accumulate. These folks are solid GOLD and can help you create amazing work and save tons of money and work!!! Two of my favorite international production companies with which I’ve had the pleasure to work are:
_One League in South Africa. Celeste and Marli are the best!
_The Search in New Zealand. Phil rocks!

5. Production Details. Whether you are working with a local production company or you are on your own, there are a number of shoot logistics to consider early on. If it is possible, a scouting trip in advance is a great way to recon a new city. You can meet people in person, start building relationships, check out locations and really dig into the local specifics. Here are some to do items that you or the production company may be tackling:
_crew bookings
_talent bookings
_location sourcing
_film office communications
_daily schedules
_ground transportation

6. Keep your options open. If our team has a hard decisionchoices on any matter, for example 2 different locations or 2 different talent, I always try to reserve or hold both and cancel one later. It’s a much smarter option than being stuck with no options. Sometimes, to keep an option, you may need to pay a ‘kill fee’ or cancellation fee to be able to hold the dates as you get closer to the shoot. Balance that benefit against your budget.

7. Make up your mind. This is the polar opposite to the above, but when you can, don’t waste your time, money and energy. Just make sure that you have buy off from the client to lock in the details.

8. Be a stickler for the details. When filling out any official forms, spend the extra time up to do it correctly the first time (it may be your only chance!). The most common reasons for delays on location permits, visas and other official paperwork have to do with missing information or lack of organization. Read and reread ALL directions. Call and ask questions. Browse the website for additional information. Proofread your application. Have someone else proofread it too.

9. Make sure people know how to reach you. An auto responder for your email and/or a custom voice mail while you are gone are both great ways to keep people informed. When you are not available, it is best to be able to provide a backup contact. Let people know the preferred way to reach you while you are gone: email, call, text, hotel.

10. Phone/Internet. Talk to your provider to see about plans that will cover international travel for calling, texting and data. You may even want to buy a local rechargeable phone/sim card and even a mobile wifi device like this one:

11. Back yourself up… just in case.
_Leave copies of your itinerary, passport and visas with family or friends.
_Locate the closest gear rental company and retailer before you travel.

12. Be flexible. As you are scheduling your activities, allow enough space in your plans to allow for organic opportunities to emerge.

In the next post of this series, I’ll have some packing specific tips for packing, for yourself and for your gear. Stay tuned. Until then, be well! Kate

12 Responses to Traveling for Photo and Video Shoots — 12 Mission Critical Tips for Pre-Production

  1. Forest September 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Live by #4 and #12 and whatever else goes wrong you’ll be able to work through it, and probably have a grand time in the process. Nice post.

  2. Christy Harper September 5, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    Thanks for the tips, your posts are always awesome, :)

  3. faisal September 6, 2012 at 5:43 am #

    Awesome tips, very useful.

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    Kate…you’re the BEST blogger ever!!! :)

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