Event Film Planning – Planning Steps Before Shooting

Filming an event can sometimes become quite hectic. For certain shots, there is no second opportunity. That’s why careful preparation is especially important in event film planning. Since event film planning requires close collaboration between the organizer and the film team, this guide is intended for both parties.

While the camera team typically handles the detailed shooting schedule, it’s helpful for the organizer to know what information they need to convey about the venue and the event’s proceedings. It’s essential to ensure that the camera team is well-informed about the on-site conditions. This article covers the key points that one should consider before shooting a successful event film. By adhering to these points, as little as possible is left to chance. This sets the best conditions for a thoroughly successful day of shooting.

Plan early but remain flexible

However, this doesn’t mean that a film team should strictly adhere to a pre-established plan throughout the entire process of creating an event film. Deviating from the original event film plan is often necessary, especially when there are spontaneous changes in the event’s schedule. It’s also true when additional creative ideas emerge during the event that seem more promising than the planned ones. Sometimes, the best shots arise from spontaneity. Nevertheless, one should never completely abandon a plan. In uncertain situations, it can serve as a guiding reference. A pre-defined plan, executed step by step, ensures that no important shot or crucial element is forgotten. Additionally, it helps keep track of the available time slots for specific shots.

The points mentioned in this context of event film planning should be addressed as early as possible. That means, once the implementation phase is underway, the film team can also refine their plans. In the immediate lead-up to the event, there might be occasional changes to the schedule. However, this doesn’t imply that film planning should only begin when the event schedule is finalized. On the contrary, the event organizer will be particularly busy just before the event. Therefore, they will appreciate having the basic framework of the film plan in place, which might only need minor adjustments.

Eventfilm-Planing: Pre-Shooting Phase

Defining the video style with the client 

To establish the desired style of the event film, it’s recommended to exchange sample videos that serve as references. This means that if the client has seen a video they want to use as a template, they send it to the film team. Alternatively, the film team can send the client 2-3 event films with slightly different approaches. This allows the client to choose the pieces they like the most and wish to emulate as examples.

This way, you can already establish a stylistic direction beforehand. (For example, how fast the cuts should be, your vision for the color palette, or even specific perspectives you already have in mind). Additionally, it can be helpful to select the background music before the shoot to set the overall mood. You can find a more comprehensive article on the key points in the initial discussion between the client and the film team here.

Is the creation of an event trailer desired?

Especially when hosting an event with ongoing ticket pre-sales, it is advisable to release an event trailer in advance. This trailer can then be shared through the event’s website and social media channels and/or the venue’s platforms. An event trailer enhances anticipation and provides interested individuals with a brief glimpse of what they can expect from attending. Event trailers typically include snippets from previous or similar events. If the client possesses relevant video material, considering the possibility of creating a trailer is recommended. However, the following text pertains to the actual filming of the event itself

Who exactly should be represented and portrayed in the video? 

Usually, for an event film, there is a client who is showcased in the video or whose vision is being realized. However, in some cases, the client might not be an individual company. It could also be the event organizer or the host of a trade show where multiple companies are present. As a filmmaker, you’ll need to make choices regarding how much focus you give to specific participants of the event. In such cases, it’s crucial to communicate with the client: Are there event sponsors who should be featured more prominently? Or are there companies that the client would prefer not to highlight? (Perhaps due to a strained relationship or an unwillingness to promote them unintentionally?) To shape the video in alignment with the client’s goals, understanding their relationship with various participants and identifying the ones they would like to feature is essential.

Are there any other camera team or photografhers present? 

For larger events, it’s possible that the client has hired multiple camera teams or photographers. In such cases, it’s crucial for these teams to communicate and coordinate their event film plans beforehand. This involves discussing who will be filming or photographing in which area at what times. This way, they can avoid interfering with each other’s work or accidentally appearing in each other’s shots. Even teams from different production companies should collaborate and strive to complement each other’s efforts, all in line with the client’s objectives.

Visiting the event location and addressing key questions

Many events have some form of rehearsal before the actual date. Alternatively, there might be a similar event with comparable conditions. These instances provide excellent opportunities to become familiar with the location while it’s in operation. If that’s not possible, the camera team should still make sure to take a look at the premises before the shoot. For a successful event film, it’s crucial to thoroughly understand the shooting location. If possible, it’s also beneficial to become acquainted with the individuals who will be present at the event.

Discussing all essencial questions on the location in advance

The cameraperson and the event organizer (or alternatively, the location manager or venue’s caretaker) should discuss the following questions about the location in advance:

  1. Equipment and Storage:

    • Is there a secure area for storing equipment?
    • Are there power outlets available in the storage area?
  2. Main Event Area:

    • Where will the main event take place?
    • What are the specific spots where filming is allowed or not allowed?
  3. Camera Positions and Stability:

    • What are the best camera positions to capture the key moments?
    • Are there safe locations for setting up tripods or other equipment?
  4. Sound and Lighting:

    • What sound system will be used?
    • Is there an option to connect recording devices to the sound system?
    • How is the lighting in the event space? Will it change during the event?
  5. Location Rules and Special Considerations:

    • Are there any specific rules or guidelines for filming in the location?
    • Are there any peculiarities about the venue that should be taken into account?
  6. Test Shots and Preparations:

    • Is it possible to conduct test shots before the event?
    • Can the cameraperson and the event organizer visit the location together to identify potential challenges and solutions?
  7. Communication and Contact:

    • Who should be the primary point of contact on the day of the event for addressing any location-related issues?

Open communication and thorough planning between the cameraperson and the event organizer, along with the involvement of relevant venue personnel, will contribute to a successful event filming experience.

Write a Shortlist

Even if you only have a few specific performances or show acts on the agenda, it’s recommended to capture overall event impressions. This could include shots of the venue setup and decorations, the audience, backstage activities, and any other unique aspects of the event. These additional shots add variety, depth, and entertainment value to the video, making it more engaging, meaningful, and enjoyable for viewers.

It is advisable to always create a shot list or storyline before the event. This way, you can plan ahead and consider the angles and details you want to capture, which significantly facilitates the filming process. A shot list is one of the most crucial aspects of event film planning. It provides guidance, helps you keep track of shots you’ve taken, and ensures you cover all the necessary aspects of the event. It creates a sense of direction and helps you monitor the shots you’ve already captured and those that are still needed.

Being creative and avoid cliches

At a business event, it’s natural to capture participants holding champagne flutes, engaging in conversation around high tables. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these scenes; they can certainly be included. However, the film should never solely consist of these predictable and potentially monotonous shots. Even when crafting your shot list, you can unleash your creativity and devise shots that surprise and intrigue. Balancing familiar scenes with innovative and unexpected visuals can make the event film much more engaging and memorable.

Das Listing,labeling and checking the required equipment for completeness  

Especially at larger events, it’s highly likely that you won’t be the only person on-site with camera and audio equipment. To easily identify your own equipment after the event, using adhesive labels with your initials or company logo is recommended. To minimize confusion, store your equipment in a clearly delineated area. Ideally, avoid storing your equipment alongside other people’s gear in the same space.

Creating a checklist of the required equipment before the shoot ensures that you pack everything you need. After the shoot, this checklist helps ensure that you don’t leave anything behind. The list should include not only the main equipment but also smaller (yet equally important) items such as spare batteries, extra batteries, memory cards, cables, adapters, and mounts. This level of preparation ensures that you’re organized and well-equipped for a successful event filming experience.

The filiming day

Arriving as early as possible on the shoot day provides ample time to unpack and set up your equipment calmly and have discussions with the event organizers. Additionally, it’s advisable to capture some establishing shots before the event begins. The lighting conditions and overall ambiance after the event might not be suitable for these shots, or the event location might appear different (lights turned off, debris left behind, etc.). The earlier you capture and secure the establishing shots, the better. This proactive approach ensures you have the necessary footage to set the context of the event before it unfolds.

If the event takes place in the evening or after sunset, it’s indeed sensible to capture the establishing shots during that time as well. The period when guests are arriving is always suitable for capturing these shots. Such scenes enhance anticipation, especially when you can see the excitement on the attendees’ faces. In addition to the introductory establishing shot, it’s advisable to consider which scene will serve as the closing shot during the event film planning. Actively seek out compelling visuals for this purpose. While it doesn’t necessarily have to be a scene at the end of the event, it should symbolize a conclusion. Strong opening and closing scenes are particularly important for creating a compelling overall impression in the event film.

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