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How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck

Limited Resources for Shooting Video

I am an absolute video newbie and am now filming my Church’s small service on Sundays.

I have a basic camcorder, but our resources are few.  There is lots of movement and many things/events happening unexpectedly that are important to capture. I can’t position my self centrally in front of the speaker due to the arrangement of the chairs, so I have been filming him from the side.

I want to do a good job of this.  Any advice?

–Susan

Limited resources.  If I had a dollar for every time I heard a filmmaker whine about limited resources, I still wouldn’t have all the money I wanted for my next project.

Nobody does.  Resources are always limited.  There isn’t a filmmaker alive who doesn’t wish for more money, more equipment, or more time than they’ve been given.  A director on a $10 million film wishes she had another million.  A teacher in a video class wishes for an aide and two more cameras for the big student project.  James Cameron probably even has days when he wishes he had more money.  Okay, maybe not James Cameron.  But for everyone else, we can’t always get what we want.

In your case, there’s no money. There’s only one camera. Chairs are in the way. You don’t know what’s going to happen next. You can’t always be in the right place at the right time.

Start by prioritizing. Think about why you’re doing the video.  For example, if you’re shooting so that those physically unable to come to church can see the service, your priorities are different than if you’re trying to make short segments to promote the church on YouTube.

Next, do what filmmakers have done since time immemorial: produce resources out of thin air.  Sit with the speaker the day before to get a better sense of the schedule.  Ask a few big guys to help move the chairs so you can get as close to the speaker as possible. Beg a friend for a tripod. Put an article in the church newsletter about your work, and ask who in the congregation shoots video. Team up to shoot with two or more cameras, then find the congregation’s resident geeky editor and edit the result.

Great producers can always figure out a way.  It’s one of the jobs of filmmaking.  The more you practice asking for what you need, based on key priorities, the better your work will become.

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