Film Set Picture Tips

I have been playing with my new Canon 7D camera, shooting bits of high-def video. My God, high-def is good. Yes, and big.

And this video activity brings me to the following. A customer recently asked me: How would you take pictures on a film set?

I thought about this. If you have ever photographed a movie set, there is a good chance this experience was your last one. Or at least your last one on a film set. Because film sets are very intolerant of misbehaviour – even if you do not know the rules of misbehaviour. So to minimise the risks, here are a few tips. This is what I would do.

  • Be respectful. Stay in the background.
  • Unless you have cleared it with the powers that be, shoot with a wide open fast lens using available light. No flash (unless you are asked to, or at least have cleared it). A 50mm f/1.8 would be great on a crop camera for close-ups; or a 35mm f/1.4 on a full-frame camera.
  • Shoot when they are not actually filming. Meaning when they are rehearsing, or on breaks, or setting up, or taking down.
  • Like tennis or golf pros, movie pros are intolerant of noise, so use a small quiet point and shoot while they are actually filming, and turn off the sound.
  • Be sure to turn off the beeps on your cameras at all times. If your camera has a silent mode, use it.
  • Turn off your cell phone and anything else that might make a noise.
  • Shoot workers, minor stars, and other non-greats. They will be happy to be in the centre of attention, and it is easier. And having friends is always good. If not now, then later, when they are great.
  • When filming is going on, do not get into camera view, ever, ever.
  • Do not catch any actor’s attention while filming is on. You are like an Entebbe hostage: you do not want to be noticed.
  • Make the actors look great. Make the directors look powerful. Make the workers look experts. You are there not to cover news, but to make the people involved look wonderful.

If you follow all those rules, you will be fine, I think – so have a good time, and be re-invited.

0 thoughts on “Film Set Picture Tips

  1. Regarding shooting video with the 7D – take a look at this

    I think this photographer / videographer has made a Picture Style for shooting video with the 7D.

    How do Picture Styles relate to the 7D’s video capabilities?

    What tools do you use to process 7D video. Lightroom won’t have anything to do with them. I wonder if that is in the plan for LR3 since so many DSLRs shoot video now.

  2. Yes, the 7D honours styles in video mode. And.. since video is not shot in “raw”, they are actually important in this mode!

    LR3 will not, as far as I am aware, handle video. Ruins my workflow, that it just ignores it. How about at least copying it for me, LR?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *