If you’ve ever watched a behind-the-scenes documentary, you’ve probably got an idea about what video shoots are like: busy camera operators yelling at the sound guy to get their boom mic out of shot, directors fussing over details, musing on the elemental brutality of nature, and yelling at actors, the production assistant who brings out the clapperboard and yells ‘action’.
It’s not really true, or at least, not for us: we try to keep things as convivial and relaxed as possible. But a video production is still a well-oiled machine, and that means that certain corporate film set etiquette must be observed.
Ask for the call sheet
The call sheet is the alpha and omega of the shoot. It will tell you which members of the crew are doing which things at which locations, and how to contact them. If you want to know how your money’s being spent on the day, the call sheet is how you find out.
We love it when clients visit the set – it shows they care. But there are good ways to participate, and there are, ahem, other ways. Here’s how you can help us ensure a smooth shoot when you’re visiting the set, and maybe even enjoy it along the way.
Open lines of communication with the director
You’re the client, and it’s your video: we want to make it as high quality and on-message as possible. We’ll always take your questions or suggestions into account and implement them as best we can.
But if you have questions or suggestions, talk to the director – not the crew. Sets operate according to a rigid hierarchy: flat management structures are all well and good in the office, but a busy production needs someone from on high to get things moving in the right direction. The director understands what your suggested change means for the shoot, and they know if and how to make it a reality. If crew are taking their cues from the client and the director, the result is usually confusion.
Above all, if you do have something to say, say it once the scene’s been filmed. Interrupting to offer your suggestion could ruin the scene.
Don’t feel like you have to help
Look, we get it: we’re British, politeness is written into our DNA. But don’t feel like you need to help the crew carry their equipment or pack up their kit. If you’re visiting a shoot, you should enjoy it – it’s always cool to see your ideas and messaging translated into an actual corporate video.
And in any case, crew have very particular ideas about how kit should be carried or packed up, and are liable to get sniffy if you touch their gear without permission. Camera operators, they all think they’re rockstars.
It’s good corporate video etiquette to be prepared for what visiting the studio actually means: with bright lights switching on and air con blasting when they’re off, you should expect extreme temperature fluctuations. We’re not saying you should bring a parka and a pair of shorts, but do bring a jumper or a cardigan to put over any thin layers.
And while you don’t have to stay for the whole thing, if you do, be sure to snack and drink coffee/tea throughout the day (if you enjoy coffee or tea). Shoots can be long, they can be draining, and they have a habit of overrunning potential lunch breaks.