Top Tips: Festival Filming Survival Guide

Going to a festival for pure enjoyment can be daunting enough to prepare for, all the kit you have to take for 3 days is extensive, so imagine having to actually work at one as part of a film crew with all your equipment plus supplies for yourself… the thought of it makes me a little scared ! In aid of us having just accomplished this, yes, ‘accomplished’ is the only word for it, at the wonderful EroicaBritannia, in Bakewell, we thought this month’s #VideoInsider’s Top Tips surely had to be our ‘Festival Filming Survival Guide’. So here it is, the low down on how to survive a festival as part of a production crew!

  1. ORGANISATION is Key to a successful outcome. This is the first and most important thing in my opinion, as it will decipher a successful outcome to the overall job. Plan where you’re staying with a lot of consideration – too close to the festival ground can be congested but equally, too far may cause timing issues if you encounter traffic heading to the festival each day. It’s also pivotal to know the layout and breadth of the festival grounds before you go so you can calculate accordingly. Personally, I would add 10 – 15 min on top of the planned times; crowds, unexpected toilet breaks and general surprises will always pop up so be prepared for anything.
  1. TIMING! is everything. Planning your filming times at a festival can be difficult, especially if it’s a big festival. It’s important to know every detail of the event from running orders to locations of just about every place, so you can you determine whether you have enough time to get to and from your shoot location without delay. Having enough crew is imperative, especially when there is so much to capture at a festival, you almost want to a crew stationed in every section so as not to miss anything, but this is often unachievable and with a little key planning, you can be more efficient with your work load, which can be heavy and hectic.
  1. BREAKS are a necessity but sometimes impossible. As any professional and hard working production crew, we know that often a decent lunch break is hard to come by. Often it’s a sandwich on the run, a 5 min tea break here and there and so on, however, festivals are long days and keeping your energy up is essential, I would advise you plan a decent break into your schedule. Also, keeping yourself hydrated is crucial so make sure you always have a bottle of water to hand. We know festival food can be expensive so my advice is to make up some sandwiches in the morning and keep sugary treats with you always for that instant pick me up when you’re needing it.
  1. WIFI is your best friend and your worst enemy. Be sure to look into this before you leave and make sure the area you’re in has a good super fast broadband as any film crew will know, the post festival uploading is necessary and without a good connection, well, you better have a few hard drives to keep you going! Most places will have super fast broadband, I mean, we are in the 21st Century after all, but as we recently discovered there are some lovely towns which are still trying to get there.. Lets just say we didn’t have 5* dining but this pub sure did have a fast connection!
  1. Expect the unexpected! If it’s forecast sunshine don’t ever take this as a given, especially when you have extremely expensive equipment that you don’t want to get damaged. I can’t stress enough here, to have waterproofs, for everything, yourself included. The last thing you need is to be stuck on your own with two cameras and no waterproofs when the heavens open. Trying to run that to some dry area will be nearly impossible and you, or your equipment definitely won’t come out of it dry and undamaged.
  1. Try to have fun along the way. Yes, you’re there for work and it can often be tiring with long hours and heavy work load but if you just take some moments to enjoy the surroundings and see other people enjoying themselves, this will translate through the lens too. Also, it’s a festival…so get into the vibe!
  1. Stay focused. Stay positive. Now this is really important for me and I think is a good lesson for any work place environment be it in the office or on location filming somewhere… always stay focused on the job at hand and remain positive throughout. I know this is easier said than done as I can guarantee there will be hard times and unforeseen issues will arise, but I can also assure you that as soon as you start letting this affect you and become pessimistic, this will not only make the job harder but it will affect the other team members and bring moral down on the whole. I’ve found that all can be solved with a drink at the end of the day so don’t worry… be happy (and productive)
  1. Last but not least…. Keep a record of what you’ve filmed and people’s names, this makes life a lot easier in post production.


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