You might never forget to bring your camera, lighting kit, tripods or microphones to a location shoot; most likely when you think of video production those are the things that come to mind. But there are some smaller pieces of gear, that get overlooked sometimes. Some because of their size, but some others because they just get overlooked.
When you first start going on location to film, you might not even know what types of tools you need. Understandable, you’ve never done it before. But when you have years of experience under your belt, you start bringing on small tools that have proven useful throughout the years.
Doh! Do they get overlooked because of their size? It’s dangerous to assume that you can make it with the batteries already inside your gear.
If you’re a seasoned player, you have likely forgotten to bring a new set of batteries to your shoot at some point. When you’re shooting solo and have the time to spare, it’s no big deal. The battery problem gets ugly and nasty if you have a crew waiting on you.
Often times you have a tight time frame, and every minute that you lose is worth gold! Don’t be that guy, avoid making extra runs to the store or back to the production room if possible.
Simply put, the lack of new or recharged batteries could ruin your shoot.
- What type? Make sure you know what type of batteries it takes to have your equipment running. AAA? AA? And also, what batteries do you need for your cameras. I’m assure you those don’t run on AA or AAA.
- Buying in bulk. Whether you need AAA, AA or 9V, buy a stash of them. You will run out less frequently, and in the long run it’s cheaper.
- Rechargeable. Make sure you at least buy 2 sets of every rechargeable battery needed for your gear. When you’re on the road juice is sparse.
Phillips and Flat Screwdrivers
This is one of those tiny ones that makes sense to have. They are super handy tools. You might not use them a lot, but they provide easy fixes.
What do you need them for?
- Emergency fix. An emergency might arise, something might break and you will have to fix some gear on the spot. This is likely the job for a Phillips head.
- Tripod plates. I hate using my keys to secure a tripod plate onto my cameras, that just looks unprofessional. Having a flat head handy will keep you looking sharp in front of the talent.
Fact number one: *START RANT* Gaff tape is not duck tape! Get it together! *RANT OVER*
Gaff tape, gaffer tape, gaffer’s tape, gaffing tape, call it whatever you want. It originated in film production a while back. Meaning, it’s specifically designed for our field; to tape down cables for safety reasons.
Gaff tape gets it’s name from the Gaffer or Chief Lighting Technician. The guy in charge of all the lighting crew and the placement of lights on set. I say all this because all the gaff tapes in the world need to be respected. For as much as it costs, you might as well learn a bit of where it came from.
This tool has saved my skin more times than one. You literally need one if you’re going on location. Like for reals, take it because you will likely need it. It’s that essential.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a few months, I mention gaff tape on this article on how to shoot a green screen. Then I used green, but that’s purposeful, because I needed to key it out. When you go on a normal location shoot, where there are no green screens involved, you will need a black tape. Black is the color of production, it doesn’t reflect light, and that’s essential for anything behind the scenes (hence why all production gear is black).
The other day I was shooting using a GoPro suction cup mount. If you’ve ever used a GoPro, they come with little links to mount it to different stands. I needed to add a link to change the angle of the GoPro.
I pulled this little piece from a link I wasn’t using at the time with some pliers. True story, until then I didn’t know you could pull out those screw nuts. They’re hard so you need pliers.
The point is you never know when you’ll need pliers, but in this field they come in handy once in while. You don’t wanna be caught without a pair in your bag. I usually just keep a pair in my car.
As easy as it is to dismiss these small tools as insignificant, they’ve come in handy to me while in location more than once. You might not always need them, but it’s always good to know you got a back up. Remember, you don’t want a tiny tool putting your production on hold. Time is a luxury you don’t have on location.
These are my 4 things I try to always bring on location. Do you have a tool that has helped you in the past? Please share with us in the comments!