Whether you are able to direct your contributors or have to film then without interuption the end goal is the same. To create visually interesting pictures that tell the story and can be easily edited together. An editor’s job is to cut out the boring bits of any event and give us a complete idea of what has happened (unless you wish to create dramatic tension!)
1) Think for the viewer.
You are the viewer at this event so give the viewer at home what they would wish to see. If a child is being told off by his mother then show us the child’s reaction; if a dentist is talking about a new drill then we need to see it. It sounds obvious but in the heat of the moment, in a busy location, it is easy to miss essential shots.
2) Move the camera.
As a general rule every time you have finished a shot move the camera to get the next shot. This creates 3D pictures on a 2D camera by giving us the third dimension in the location. It also makes it easier to edit the shots together by limiting continuity errors. Make sure you move the camera at least 45’ to help with this. Get the camera in unusual positions to create more drama. High angle looking down, on the floor looking up for example.
3) Get a 3-shot sequence.
If filming someone doing something start with a 3-shot sequence and then get the more creative shots.
- Get a wide-shot of the person and what they are doing.
- Get a close-up of them doing the action making sure to exclude their hands (the action) in the shot.
- Get a close-up of the action they are doing avoiding the face.
4) Remember cut-aways.
Cut-aways are shots that are not directly relevent to the action. They give the viewer more information and enable the editor to pace the action. Get plenty of them but make sure they are relevant to the story. A parade needs people watching and cheering. A young teacher, nervously leading their first assembly need kids listening and the headmaster looking on worried!
5) Remember the line but don’t panic.
The shots you create will be edited together into a coherent sequence. By understanding what the line is you will avoid crossing it and not give the editor a headache. The line is between two people talking together or the direction of travel of a car or footballer running with the ball.
6) If you make mistakes.
(and we all do) admit them and learn from them. This is how you improve in life as well as in filming. Neurologists have found that humans learn quicker from trying new things and failing than from always staying in the comfort zone. Even the most experienced filmmakers are always learning and it keeps them fresh and keeps them creative.
Keep learning and stay creative