How to Manage Team, Time and Cops While Shooting Outdoors

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Things to keep in mind while shooting outdoors

From dealing with inquisitive cops to managing crowds, with unforeseeable aberrations that can pop up in between, if you’ve attempted to shoot anywhere outside the confines of four walls, you’ll be aware of the innumerable challenges we have to come across before calling it a day.

For Sriram, an aspiring filmmaker currently a part of Studentfilmer’s production programme, things were no different. We talked to Sriram on surmounting these difficulties and he had quite a bit to share from the misadventures of their shoot and the lessons learnt.

Lie, Lie And Lie Some More

A camera is a cop magnet, if you are seen with one, you’re bound to attract the other. Most cops demand pre-acquired permission for shooting in public spaces. However, if you are lucky, you can get away with a valid college ID. Even if you are not a student, it helps to take with you a couple of ID card wielding friends.

Add to that a letter from the college authorities validating the purpose of your shoot, and you’re almost set to go. This shouldn’t be too difficult to acquire if you have friends in VisCom or Electronic Media Departments.

Always carry around brochures of upcoming culturals and events from your college. In the case of Sriram, an IITian, his ability to produce SAARANG leaflets is what got them off the hook, from the cop that confronted him while shooting on a bridge in the city.

However, there is a high probability that these might not work. Worst case scenario-  cameras are confiscated and their memory cards formatted when the crew hasn’t acquired the necessary permissions. So it is best to carry around a faux camera, take a bunch of pictures wherever you go, enough to make it look believable that you’re working on a college project. So in case you see trouble approaching, quickly switch cards and hide the original.

Plan A, B and C

Always have multiple options that you can resort to while choosing locations. You can never tell what can go wrong, who decides to fall sick and what the weather will be like. In any case, it is sensible to observe all the locations, including the backups and note the timings suitable for your shoot and to inform the locals/ owners in advance.

Perfect As You Progress

Due to time constraints while shooting outdoors, or shooting anywhere for that matter, having a rough plan helps. We say rough plan here only because it may be difficult to visualise if you haven’t yet seen the location in all its detail. Also, keeping in mind that the location maybe subject, create a loose script, flexible for adaptation and interpretation, keeping in mind all the locations.

Trust Your Team

Always pick a team that you are confident of and trust completely. Once you entrust the crew with their respective tasks, step aside and let them carry on with it. Constantly interfering and prodding will lead to dissent and uneasiness in the team.

Another thorn on the fence is the director- DOP relationship, which plagues every other crew today. Sriram, however, proposes a simple solution to the age old conundrum. Pick all the elements- in the form of shots, dialogues, props, whatever you think is necessary to the story. Trust the DOP with the aesthetics and rest assured that you won’t be disappointed.

Plan a Break

In all the excitement, what is often left out of the planning is taking a break. Shoots often tend to be long and continuous, and some of us even forget to eat. Sriram and crew were so engrossed in the day long shoot, that they ignored their growling stomachs and by the time the shoot was done, well after midnight, there wasn’t a place open where they could eat.

Add a time keeper to the crew, who’ll tell you when it’s time to eat and to wind up, because time is key while we’re shooting outdoors. Also, always make arrangements for food for the crew, because you might be shooting in far-off places and at odd hours. Make sure regular breaks are a part of the plan, because it’s known to lift moods and energies that tend to taper after long hours of toiling.

Lt final

Happy filming!


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