What to expect on your filming day

It’s finally here! You’ve completed the pre-production process of your project, and we’re ready to roll cameras on your next nonprofit video! It’s going to be a busy and fun day!


What can you expect while working with us on your production? Why don’t we have a quick walk through the day.


Your first decision will be whether you or someone from your organization will be on set. There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. We’ve worked plenty of times where the decision makers aren’t on set and other times where they are.  

Portrait of Mark Locki

Article by Mark Locki

Having someone from your team on set can be helpful as you know your organization better than anyone else. It can also help facilitate communication and problem-solving on production day quicker. At the same time, having too many people on set and involved in decision-making can slow things down.  


As long as we know ahead of time if you’ll be there and how many people from your organization to expect, we can plan accordingly.


What crew can you expect to find on set, and what are their roles?

For lower budget productions, you’ll find just me on set acting as the director/producer/camera operator.  I’ll run the day from beginning to end.

Usually, the first person I’ll bring onto a shoot is a Location Sound Recordist. Audio is the most integral part of a good video, so having a dedicated sound recordist can help us capture the best quality audio.

Depending on the budget level of the project, we may have a few more or different crew members involved:

Director: If the video requires more elaborate creative planning and execution or hired talent, having a director rather than a videographer may be helpful.

Producer: The producer ensures the day runs on time, on budget and smoothly.

They’ll likely be your key point of contact throughout the day.

Director of Photography (DP): A Director of Photography brings specialized visual knowledge to the set, usually above what a videographer is capable of.

This may include creating a unique look, specialized camera movement, and extensive lighting knowledge. They’ll work hand-in-hand with the director to help them execute the vision.

Gaffer: The gaffer will be in charge of lighting the scenes and operating and adjusting the lights as needed throughout the day.

Grip: If your shoot calls for specialized camera movement such as dolly moves, cranes or more, your team will include a grip. The grip is responsible for setting up and operating dollies, cranes, jibs, tracks, etc. They’ll also help the gaffer with lighting as needed.

Art Director: If an art director is on set, they’ll be responsible for setting the scene and ensuring all the props, plants, and the set look their best.

Hair and Makeup Artist: A hair and makeup artist will ensure the onscreen talent or participants look their best for the camera.

Wardrobe: Someone may oversee the wardrobe if the shoot requires different looks throughout the day. Usually, however, the producer or videographer will let the participants know beforehand what to wear, and they will wear their own clothing.

Production Assistant: A production assistant will help with anything needed on set, from doing coffee runs to helping set up equipment as required.

Digital Imaging Technician: This person is in charge of transferring media from the cameras to the computers and hard drives, making backups, ensuring that all the footage is not corrupted, and providing a preview of the footage for you or the Director/DP. They’ll also be responsible for transferring and prepping the footage for postproduction.


The day will start with us arriving – early. There’s a saying in the video and film world – if you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. So expect us to arrive early to start setting up.


Starting out, we’ll recap the day’s schedule and make sure everyone is on the same page.


Your preproduction schedule will tell you what you’ll be filming first. Sometimes, we’ll start with a scene or b-roll. Other times, we’ll be starting with an interview.  

Quick tip – if we’re doing an interview-based video and your participants are a bit nervous around the camera, it can be easier for them if we start with a scene where they don’t have to talk to warm them up. Then do the interview portion later in the morning or early afternoon, when the natural lighting isn’t great and they’ve grown accustomed to the camera.

My goal when working with participants who are not used to being on camera is to make them as comfortable as possible. Our interview should feel conversational and help them come across naturally. It takes trust and time to work through this process. I’m incredibly proud of how often I’ve heard, “You’re so easy to talk to!” at the end of our interviews, especially when discussing sensitive or emotional topics.

Expect the crew to take somewhere between 30 minutes to 1 hour to get everything set up and ready to film. This could include moving all the equipment into the filming space, setting up the camera, getting the audio equipment ready, setting up and positioning the lights and setting up the scene to make it look nice.

With all the equipment set up, we’re ready to roll!

The room will fall silent, and we’ll begin the shoot. Throughout the course of the shoot, your director or videographer will lead the action, guiding the video’s participants with the steps they need to get the outcome they planned. If you have a separate producer, they’ll help keep the day on schedule and help troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

If the decision-makers from your organization won’t be attending the shoot, clarify with the team beforehand how much communication you can expect on the shoot day. At the very least, you should expect a quick message when filming wraps, but you may want more contact with the team as the day progresses.

If you’re doing an interview-based video, leave time following the interview to capture more b-roll. Quite often, during the interview, a great piece of dialogue will come up.  We will keep a thought on that line and think of what b-roll is needed to show what was described in the interview. Allowing time to capture those b-roll segments following the interview can transform your video from good to great! After all, it’s a video, it’s better to show than to tell.


If the shoot is scheduled for a full day, you’ll have time for lunch and snacks. Depending on the budget level of the production, this could be anything from bringing your own lunch to a fully catered affair.

If it’s a half-day shoot, there will likely be time for a quick snack and water break to keep everyone recharged.


Before the day ends, we’ll review the shot list and preproduction documents to ensure everything planned was captured. Then, we’ll head back to our office to begin the postproduction process!


Let me know in the comments section below!

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