Whether you call it production day, shoot day, on-set day, or something else entirely, the portion of your project when you’re actually capturing footage is often the most exciting. But, if you’re new to the video production process, you might not know what to expect from the day (or days) your project will be filming. That’s where we come in! We’ll walk you through what our typical on-set days look like at Lemonlight. And don’t worry if you’re not a Lemonlight client (although we’d love to have you!)—the process should look pretty similar across the board.
How to Prepare for Production Day
Decide Whether to Come to Set
Let’s start with some of the prep that goes into your production day and what you might need to know ahead of time. First, as a client, whether you come to set or not is often up to you. Clients often want to watch the shoot take place to give feedback throughout the day and generally make sure that their vision is being realized.
Having the client on set is often helpful for the crew because you’ll understand your product and business best. This is especially true if your brand works with a technical product. While we’ll test your products to learn them inside and out ahead of time, it helps to have a client representative on set just in case something unexpected goes wrong or there’s a misunderstanding about product use.
On the other hand, some clients choose not to come to set. If the shoot location would require travel on the part of the client, it’s not as common for the client to make the trek on production day. If you’re unsure, talk to your production partner to learn more about their approach to production day and whether it would be valuable for you to be there.
It’s also typically up to you how many people from your team come to set. We often have anywhere from 0-3 representatives from the client team on set, but we’d recommend sending as few people as needed just to help keep things organized. This information also needs to be communicated ahead of time so that we can prepare the space appropriately. If we think one person from your team is coming and four show up, it’ll take some time to adjust the space.
Review Production Day Materials
If you do decide to come to set, you’ll be sent a few resources in advance. The first is your call sheet, which we’ll describe in more detail in a second. The second is an order form or link for a catered meal (often lunch). Make sure to fill that out and send it to the appropriate contact so your food will be ready for you on set.
Now, back to the call sheet. Your call sheet is your most valuable asset during production as it breaks down the plan and schedule for the entire day. If you’re filming across multiple days, you’ll likely have a separate call sheet to refer to for each of the days. Depending on your involvement in the process, the call sheet may contain a level of detail that you don’t need, so here’s what you should focus on.
The most important piece of information is your call time. There will be a general call time (often at the top of the call sheet) that refers to the time the crew will arrive to start setting up for the day. Your call time as the client will be different, so go to the section at the bottom of the sheet where everyone’s individual call times are listed, and look for yours.
Why are the call times different? As a client, you don’t need to be there for the part of the day when the crew is setting up. Your time is valuable and better spent on the later portion of the day when footage is actually being captured. Talent will also often have different call times to reflect whether they’re needed in certain shots or not.
Your call sheet will also have the address of the location where you’re shooting and information about where to park. If you’re shooting at your own location (like your storefront), you likely won’t need this information. Review it just in case to make sure you know what to expect.
What to Expect When You Arrive
What to Bring and Wear
When you get ready to show up on set day, you may be wondering if you need to wear or bring anything special. The short answer is no. We’d recommend closed-toed shoes to help you navigate around the equipment, but otherwise dress comfortably and bring whatever materials you’ll need for your workday, like your laptop and charger or your cell phone.
We’ll have craft services (often referred to as “crafty”) set up, so you’ll have access to snacks and water all day. Five hours into the day, a lunch break occurs and everyone will take a break at the same time. Production will stop for this break and will resume when lunch is over. You’ll be able to see this break on the call sheet if you’re curious about what time it’ll occur. Note that if your production is taking place at an uncommon time (like an overnight shoot, for example), your “lunch” may fall at a strange time and you may want to plan your other meals accordingly.
Crew Members on a Typical Set
Next, let’s talk about who you can expect to encounter throughout the day. Here are the most common crew positions:
- The Director will be leading the set from a creative point of view. This is probably the person you’ll interact with the most, and if you have feedback throughout the day, it’ll likely be funneled through the Director.
- The Director of Photography (DP) will be in charge of camera, lighting, and visually executing the shots for the day.
- The Gaffer is the right-hand man for the Director of Photography, and will typically be the person physically putting up lights and making adjustments to the lighting setup throughout the day.
- The Art Director makes sure all the non-technical visual elements look good, including props, plants, and other aspects of set dressing.
- Hair and Makeup prepares the talent to look good on camera.
- Wardrobe prepares clothing for the talent. Wardrobe is often picked out beforehand, and talent will often bring their own clothes to set that match the desired look.
- Sound will be in charge of capturing the audio on set. If the only audio is voice-over, that’ll be captured separately and this person may not be present.
Where to Go When You Arrive
When you arrive on set, there will be an area set up for you to sit comfortably with your laptops and phone out. At Lemonlight, we provide a monitor that’s receiving video feed directly from the camera so you can watch and listen in a convenient spot. You’ll also have access to printouts of the schedule and storyboard so you can follow along with the day’s progress.
How to Provide Feedback
As the day unfolds, you may be consulted for feedback about specific elements of the shot. At Lemonlight, we’re pretty collaborative and look forward to this input. If you see anything taking place that you’re unsure about, we’d love to hear from you to make sure we get the perfect shot.
However, one caveat about feedback: there are some elements of your production that will be difficult to pivot on set. Remember that there’s a lot of communication between the production team and your team (the client team) leading up to the shoot day. That’s the time for you to approve your storyboard, script, and call sheet. When you show up to set, you should be comfortable with the general direction of your production and you should have an idea of what’s going to be captured.
Feedback on set is incredibly valuable when it comes to small changes like, “The actor needs to look happier,” or, “Can we remove that prop from the background?” Big changes, like moving the whole scene from a bedroom to an office, are different and can really derail your shoot. If you have bigger changes like that which will affect the creative approach itself, they should be communicated in advance when going over your script or storyboard.
If you do try to change something like this on set, just know that the shoot going overtime becomes a possibility, which can get expensive for you as the client. Crew and talent are often being paid by the hour based on a 10-hour shoot day, so anything that goes beyond the predetermined schedule can get costly.
If you have any final questions, make sure to reach out to your project’s point of contact to get the clarity you need. It’s important to us that you feel comfortable going into your shoot. Otherwise, get ready to have a great production day!