How to direct a shoot from 200 miles away.

“How do you direct a shoot from 200 miles away??”

This is the question we asked ourselves when a client approached us about producing and directing a shoot a few cities over.

Due to travel restrictions, it was impossible to be there in person. So we had to figure out how to run a professional shoot entirely remotely.

Remote jobs are tricky, but they’re no problem for us. With a little research, some testing, and the right team members, we figured out how to make it work.

There were a few key challenges we knew we needed to overcome to make this happen. The first was finding a trustworthy crew in the remote location.

The second was technical– how would we distribute the live video to the remote location. And finally, how would we enable the remote team to weigh in on the video while it was being shot?

Director Nick Szpara gives the inside scoop on how he was able to solve these challenges.

“We were able to find a great local crew through our professional network and personal recommendations. Within 24 hours of the client ask, we had a crew lined up that we trusted.

There were several pre-production video calls and sample references sent back and forth to make sure we were all on the same page.

Best of all, we were comfortable that they would work well with our client on-site, and be professional and efficient (like us!)”

Since the client wanted multiple stakeholders to be able to watch the recording, we had to get a system set up to accommodate multiple feeds – the camera and four participants.

“We’re all tired of Zoom calls, but it’s a pretty solid platform that most people are comfortable using these days.

More importantly, it interfaces with our monitoring solution. We have a device that takes a professional camera output and feeds it into a Zoom call.

Our local crew placed a laptop on set and we were able to see and hear exactly what the camera was seeing – just like sitting in front of a client monitor on set.

This way, I could give notes about lighting, framing, and other important details.

I could communicate with my crew, and the other Zoom participants could speak directly to our talent and make on-the-fly script adjustments.

I think it went really well and was pretty seamless for all involved. The key to success was pre-production and good communication – no different than a normal shoot!”

Following the success of this shoot, the same client asked us to do it again a couple of weeks later. That shoot was more complicated, with a larger crew, teleprompter, greenscreen setups, and visual effects supervisors weighing in from the UK.

We enjoy traveling for shoots, but that hasn’t been possible during the pandemic.

So, when you need to send a trusted crew to handle a shoot, this is a great way to make it happen.

FDM can produce, direct, and run the crew all from our office.

Plus, it has the added benefit of being more affordable – avoiding costly travel expenses.

Interested in learning more?  Reach out today and see how we can help you.

Posted on January 6, 2021 in Uncategorized

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