If you have ever been responsible for videography work then you can probably relate to this article. Successful video production projects stem from good preparation and planning, but as we all know some things you just don’t account for. It may be funny to reflect and talk about video blunders on this blog now, but back then these problems were real nightmares that almost ruined a shoot. Hopefully I can help prevent potential problems from occurring during your next production!

Lights, camera, crash!

It was a cold wintery night and I had just walked in to my cozy apartment. I started taking off my boots and thinking of something hot to make for dinner. Then it hit me, that shoot I had booked weeks ago was tonight! Already off to a bad start I quickly laced up my boots and ran out the door. Bad things can happen when you are being rushed and you are very likely to forget important details, that was the case for me that night and I was in for a big surprise.
I arrive at the studio where I am scheduled to film a sit down interview with one of the area’s local basketball coaches. I had planned what I was going to ask as well as made sure I got there in plenty of time to set up all my equipment (at least I got that part right). Checklist in hand I started going through everything: Camera, wireless lavalier, headphones, external monitor, light kit, tripods, and then I get to the extension cords. Did I remember those? Furiously scrambling through all the duffle bags before the client arrives only to realize they are clearly hanging up on the wall, thank god. As someone who takes their job seriously, the last thing I want is to be embarrassed when someone comes in and sees that I don’t seem to have a grasp on what I am doing. Almost like clockwork, the client comes in the door and we get started. The questions seem to have brought on a good dialogue and I ran with it, the lighting was great and I didn’t over expose him in the shot, this was going to be a piece of cake.
We took a break for a bit because he needed to use the restroom which was located behind the lighting set up. I started picturing what I wanted for dinner again; at this point I would have taken anything and was going to wrap up the last few conclusion questions when he came back. I hear the door open and he comes back into the room and mumbles something like “Almost took a digger back there!” and laughs. I give a half-hearted laugh and position him back in front of the camera. I tell him we only have a couple conclusion questions left and then we are done, I start with the first question:

“What were some of the most memorable moments of the year to you?”

Just then I peer into the darkness behind him where the C-stand is holding up his hair light. It begins to tip ever so slowly, my heart instantly pounds and my stomach sinks. Everything for the next five seconds felt in slow motion as the light stand tips completely over smashing the light onto the cement floor.

“Oh no!” I shouted.

The coach knew something went wrong but didn’t know why. I called it a night and sent him on his way as I stared at the shattered glass and metal spread out on the floor. I began retracing my thoughts to find out why a light that should be secure would suddenly come crashing down right in the middle of a shoot. Then it came to me, the C-stand is always secured with a weighted sandbag so it’s arm can extend out to hold the light for the subject. When the coach came back into the room he must have accidentally knocked the sandbag off the C-stand causing it to inevitably fall over.

See, even when you seemingly have everything accounted for there are always ways to be more careful!

2 out of 3 ain’t bad

I had just received confirmation to shoot what was going to be my first on-location documentary. I wanted to make a good first impression so I dressed the part and when I met the people I was going to follow I shook hands firmly. It probably would have been a good idea to scout the area first and pick out my spots but hey, it was my first run at this. So I show up with all of my equipment and find a spot in their gift shop that was quiet, I figured it would be a great place to capture good audio. Being that it was my first real run at this I overlooked some pretty important information. First of all it took me forever and a day to set up my shot, I had the people stand patiently while I got everything just right. Of course after about a half hour of fiddling around with camera settings and audio monitoring I could see the talent start to get impatient. At this point I am sweating through my shirt and just trying not to make the shot look terrible, I get to my last step and everyone who does this sort of stuff has their own way of doing it and things they decide to do first, second, and so on. For me, at least on that day I left the lights for last only to realize the lights had 3 prongs and would not work in the gift shop’s 2 prong outlets. Ouch, this was going to be a rough start.

Though these stories were embarrassing at the time, they were an extremely helpful learning tool for me. I would never leave a C-stand without a sandbag and would always scout a location before filming at an unknown place. Learning from your mistakes is key to progressing in any facet of life; hopefully you can laugh and learn from my mistakes or even post some of your own below.