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Preparing for a Long Production Day

Media professionals can all relate to the long production day. Whether youre a landscape photographer waking up at zero dark thirty to capture the first light or a wedding photographer shooting from bridal prep straight through to the reception, weve all had those days. In the video world, Ive had my share of long production days, especially when theyre back to back.

While Im not one to jump out of bed ready to go, there are a few routine things I do to make dealing with long production days easier.

Get Yourself Organized

Have the location name, address and phone numbers of important people (such as the site director) ready to go either printed out or saved somewhere quickly accessible on your phone. This doesn’t mean saved in your email somewherebut rather a place that one, maybe two, clicks and you can find it. Ive had success using the built-in Notes app on my iPhone or Evernote, which syncs across all my devices.

If you’re in charge of the shoot, check out this article I wrote on creating a production book to keep all of this information in.

Plan out your drive

I hire a lot of freelancers to assist on my shoots and one of the biggest problems I see are people underestimating the time it takes them to arrive to a location. Look it up the night before and plan your route. Give yourself an extra 15 minutes in case you hit traffic, have to stop to get gas, or make a routine stop at Dunkin Donuts.

Know where you’ll be working

Are you working inside or outside? Is the weather going to be pretty nice or cold and miserable?

Plan accordingly. If youre going to be inside, bring a sweatshirt in case its cold. A lot of sets are cooler to keep the talent from sweating in costume. If its nice out and the shoot is taking place outside, be sure to bring a hat, sunscreen, and rain jacket in case the weather starts to turn.

Lay out your Clothes

Yes, picking out clothes can be difficult in the morning. I almost left my house wearing a black sandal on my left foot and a navy sandal on my right foot one day. Planning out your wardrobe, just like my mother used to do, can save time and aggravation when youre rushing out the door.

If youre traveling for multiple days, make sure youre bag is packed the night before and set next to the door.

Set Multiple Alarms

Everybody likes to snooze their alarmsespecially if youre only getting a few hours sleep each night. If youve got to be up at 6am, set alarms for 5:55am, 6am, 6:05am, and maybe even a 6:15am just in case you shut the alarm off rather than snooze it.

Also, don’t assume that your alarms will turn on automatically. Ive worked with a freelancer who sets alarms to wake up Monday-Friday, but not on Saturday or Sunday. When we worked on a Saturday, he showed up late because he forgot his alarm isn’t set to go off on the weekend.

Pack Snacks

Some larger productions might be catered, but don’t get caught without food. You’ll feel terrible and could aggravate those around you if you get hangry (hungry and angry).

Stay Hydrated

Throughout the day, make sure to stay hydrated. Youre pushing yourself hard to stay focused and work long hours, and drinking lots of water is important.

Check and Charge your Gear

This should go without saying…Make sure all youre gear is working and fully-charging the night before. This includes your cell phone. Don’t expect to be able to charge things when you arrive on set. Double check that you have all our your memory cards and accessories to make your shoot day go smoothly.

Some things on this list may already be second-nature for you. If not, you’ll get the hang of this after going through a few shoot days. Each production is has its own challenges and over time you’ll become more prepared to handle anything this industry can throw at you!

Did I leave something out? Share your pre-shoot routine in the comments below.

*Feature image THPStock / Dollar Photo Club

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