Looking at a completed puzzle and looking at a box of puzzle pieces are two very different things indeed. When our fans and clients see our videos they see the final production. They see the completed puzzle, but we know full well that the final product is a direct result of it’s many parts…and planning…lots and lots of planning.

At SolidLine Media the shoot day preparations are extremely important. We work hard to stay on or under budget whenever possible. Time is money, so the time and effort that go into pre-production is the most valuable because it will save us loads of time later in the shoot, and keeps us on budget. SolidLine Producer, Kevin Wright, provides a succinct example: “A national 30-second pet food commercial with cats or dogs running through a house to get a snack might have had a budget of about $250,000+. Most of our budgets are 25% of that cost and require multiple locations and multiple shoot days.” In other words, we aim to save a penny in every place we can in order to create the high quality content we’re known for, on workable budgets.

Let’s face it, there are more important things to spend money on, such as equipment and talented people. I asked our Producer, Wright: What pre-production secrets make a successful SolidLine shoot?

Location(s)

Shooting a documentary interview in Telluride, CO. We had to work with the staff to shut the lodge lobby down for 2 hours to conduct this interview.

Shooting a documentary interview in Telluride. We had to work with the staff to shut the lodge lobby down for 2 hours to conduct this interview.

The client wants the perfect shooting location for an interview, advertisement or model demonstration. Obviously, we too would love a perfect location. However, the budget has to stay on track. So what do we do? Do we pay to use a house or business for a few hours? Do we rent a stage and build a set? Do we shoot guerrilla style on the streets? “Location scouting can be extremely difficult,” says Wright, “It takes time, patience and the skill to get the right place.”

 

Oh, and once you find the place, you need someone onsite with you who knows the location and can fix problems, open doors, etc. Locations are a necessary and stressful beast to battle, but completely worth it when you find an absolute perfect place.

The Team

The SoldiLine Media crew is always ready at the drop of a hat, but it isn’t just us on set. Clients, advisers, cast, set decoration, props, everything needs to be prepped and ready to go.

Recently we shot at an airport on the tarmac with trucks, planes, helicopters and actors. “Not only do you have to have permission to do all this, but you need to know what airplane is available at what time and what the weather conditions will be, the camera set-up, script, actor availability and a host of other things” says Wright. Now, at SolidLine we’re used to the challenges of shoots of all sizes, but trust us when we say that if you take the time to prep everyone, you save a lot of headaches further down the road.

Truck and Gear Logistics

The SLM bus outside Vail, Colorado.

The SLM bus outside Vail, Colorado.

Wright comes from a cinema background, so he “prefers whatever we do to look great and make complete sense from every angle.” Having the right gear with you at all times makes this much easier. Sometimes, SolidLine is driving or flying our gear thousands of miles to reach a location. And, because we don’t charge extra for travel, those trips are on the company dime. Making sure the right gear gets to the location on time and undamaged takes a good amount of logistics and coordination.

In the past 12 years our gear has traveled around the world on 500 airplanes, and over 750,000 miles on the ground. With loads of shoot experiences and a little ingenuity, we know how to handle through gear hiccups and travel logistics.

Shot Lists and Logs

It's extremely important to slate each shot and take detailed notes.

It’s extremely important to slate each shot and take detailed script notes.

We shoot everything from single-location, two-camera interviews and multiple-shot, multiple-location brand videos and stories. To stay organized, we keep up with shot lists and logs, and make sure each and every shot is slated on camera. According to Wright, on more complicated shoots, “the shot list becomes the bible.” It can take days to come up with a solid, working shot list. You start with the script and then work to figure out how you can bring that vision off of the page.

 

“We rarely shoot a script in chronological order.” Explains Wright, “Just like in the movies, the shots are meticulously arranged to optimize the time of client, talent and crew.”

Call Sheet

Last, but certainly not least, is the call sheet. The call sheet lays out the who, what, when, where and hows of the shoot. The SolidLine Media call sheet is simple, elegant and packed with all of the information we need for an efficient, effective shoot. Every member of the cast and crew receives a PDF copy so that everyone knows what is needed throughout each shoot day.

From wardrobe to camera, transportation and set direction, call sheets are an invaluable part of a successful shoot.

Notice a theme? Prepare, prepare, prepare. The more time spent planning and preparing every last detail of your project; the less time spent tracking down equipment or cleaning up logistical messes.

Want SolidLine to keep your next brand production on track, give us a call.