There are two types of video shoots: Set and run-and-gun. Set shoots give you time to create a set, adjust lighting and perfectly frame your subjects. Run-and-gun shoots require you to stay on your toes, move between locations and capture moments that quickly pass by.
Most of the videos I’ve made are set shoots that involve sitting down and interviewing a subject. This year, I’ve had the opportunity to get outside and work on a handful of run-and-gun shoots.
Run-and-gun shoots can be intimidating because there is little room for error. Most of the time, you only get one chance to capture the perfect shot, whether it’s a simulated crash, fire or event speaker. Being fully prepared and learning to be flexible is key to setting aside stress and replacing it with fun during run-and-gun shoots.
Following are a few tips I’ve learned this year.
Create a shot list
Before your shoot, write down as many desired shots as you can. The shot list can come from instructions from the client, brainstorming sessions with teammates and other videos you research. After your shot list is complete, save it to your phone so you can quickly access it in the moment and avoid missing any scenes that can’t be reproduced.
It’s easy for your mind to get overwhelmed and go in a million directions during a run-and-gun shoot. Having a predetermined shot list can help you stay focused.
Wear nice, comfortable clothing
At SPR, we always try to look professional when we meet with a client or attend an event. As one of my favorite professors said: If you look good, you feel good.
With that being said, there’s a little flexibility when it comes to run-and-gun clothing. Because run-and-gun shoots require a lot of movement and often take place outside, a suit isn’t the most practical choice. You want to choose an outfit that offers flexibility and can withstand a bit of dirt. After all, you want to be focused on your work during a shoot – not concerned about ruining a good pair of dress pants.
My most recent run-and-gun shoot involved filming demonstrations of a fire department’s new search and rescue vehicles, including a boat and an all-terrain vehicle. I knew I’d be getting wet, walking through dirt trails and squatting in tall grass. For this reason, I wore a waterproof coat, an older pair of khakis and a pair of outdoor shoes with good traction.
In my opinion, shoes are the most important piece of clothing for any video shoot. Be sure to wear a pair of shoes that give you plenty of support and are slip-resistant. Nothing puts filming to a halt like slipping and landing on your camera.
Make a list and check it twice
Give yourself plenty of time to double-check your equipment and perform any maintenance. After all, technology is great until it fails, and there’s nothing worse than discovering a dust particle on your camera sensor or malfunctioning battery in the middle of a shoot. These may seem minor, but they can be a huge hassle during a run-and-gun shoot where you don’t have direct access to all your gear.
To help prepare for run-and-gun shoots, I’ve created a checklist to keep myself organized and on track. Items on the checklist include:
- Charge extra batteries and put them in your coat pockets
- Prepare a backup camera
- Check lenses and sensors for hair, dust and dried water droplets
- Back up and clear SD cards
It’s also a good idea to schedule some wiggle room at the beginning and end of your shoot to allow for any late talent, redoes or vehicles stuck in the mud. It’s better to complete a shoot early than go over the scheduled time.
Things don’t always go according to plan during run-and-gun video shoots. Surprises are likely when there are many moving parts. Learning to adapt and creatively solve problems are skills that develop with experience.
Try not to panic when something goes wrong during a shoot. Instead, take a deep breath, put your thinking cap on and adapt to the situation. Openly panicking can unintentionally cause your talent to get worried and distracted.
I hope these tips help the next time you’re preparing for a run-and-gun shoot. What helps you when you’re filming on the go?