Allied Pixel has been out of the office quite a bit lately. Last quarter we filmed in Dublin, Ireland; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Boston, Las Vegas, New York and Washington, D.C.
If you’re planning to shoot out of town, here are some travel tips.
Sometimes I take the Allied Pixel crew with me; other times I work with local crews. It often comes down to budget and the requirements of the shoot. If it’s a complex or challenging shoot, it can be well worth the expense to fly the Allied Pixel team out. If it’s a more basic shoot, I’ll often fly out as producer/director and work with a hand-chosen local crew.
We always prefer to bring our own camera equipment on a shoot, but it’s not always practical. Equipment is fragile. We have a special flight pack that breaks down to three carry-on cases and one check-in case. Sometimes it makes sense to supplement our gear with equipment from a local rental house. Examples include big lights, jibs and so forth.
Do your homework to see what local regulations may pertain to your project. Depending on where you’re going, you may need to get a visa. If you’re shipping equipment, you may need a carnet certificate. Some cities require a permit for filming in public places. Know the local holidays and customs.
If you’re going to a non-English speaking part of the world, make sure at least one person on your crew is fully bilingual. It may sound obvious, but I’ve been on shoots where language was a major obstacle. A person who’s fluent in both languages is like having a translator on set. Actually, it is having a translator on set.
If you’ll be traveling between multiple shoot locations, make arrangements for moving the crew and gear. It’s easier in some cities than others. In Sao Paulo, we used a helicopter because the traffic is so bad. In other places, it may make sense to hire a passenger van and driver.
As an American film crew, you can be a target. Know what you’re getting into. Avoid locations that are high in crime or politically sensitive. I’ve traveled with people who put a Canadian flag on their backpacks. Maintain a low profile. Travel with a local who can serve as a fixer if you run into a snag.
You’ll find that cinematographers have their own unique thoughts about shot composition, lighting and so forth. If you want to maintain a consistent look and feel throughout all your shoot locations, be sure to communicate that in advance. Share any example videos you may have.
Shooting out of town can be a lot of fun. Enjoy the trip.
P.S. Have a topic you’d like to see discussed? Let me know and I’ll try to get to it in a future post.