The Ultimate Producers Survival Kit
Have you ever been on shoot and had someone pass out on you? Or have you gotten to a location and realised you have no way of capturing the location release and no time to sort it out?
When approaching this blog post I thought back to my time producing and everything that has gone wrong, or could have very well gone wrong, if I didn’t have a pretty badass survival kit with me.
It’s the items that I squeeze into my carry bag every shoot (often cursing at how big it's getting), that continue to save my skin during production.
So, in no particular order, here’s my list of must have things to pack on your next shoot, and why it is that I include them:
No brainer. Thank goodness i'm producing in the year 2017 where there is wifi readily available, hotspots available on our phones and laptops that allow us to work anytime and anywhere. The laptop has enabled me to find countless last minute locations, book travel on the fly and get a head start on the call sheet during the rare moments of down time on shoot.
I swear I am not a sponsor for Apple! There have been a couple of shoots i've tried doing it without an iPad, believing it's silly to have a Macbook, iPhone and iPad. But the truth of the matter is, the iPad is amazing for taking releases (I use Release Pro!) without having to worry about receiving messages or phone calls. It's also great to give out to an assistant if they need to research something without taking your laptop. When I bring an iPad on shoot it is 100% for production use, so I don’t have emails or social media connected at any time.
And the all important smart phone.. of course. I am constantly getting phone calls or texting out group updates to the crew. I've had one shoot day when my iPhone failed on me and it was soooo crazy hard to get anything done without it. One of my top items for sure!
Where there’s technology, we must have power! I bring along my Macbook, iPhone and car chargers to every shoot. It doesn’t hurt to slip in a spare iPhone charger should anyone on your crew need it too.
5. Protein Bars
Regardless of whether there is craft services handy, I make sure I include a couple of protein bars in my bag every single day. You never know when someone might be getting a little faint (i’ve seen it before) or you may just be rushing around all day and completely forget to eat. Producers. Must. Eat.
6. Water Bottle
Similarly, regardless of whether there is water organised on location, I make sure I always have a water with me at all times.
7. First Aid Kit
This is a reasonably recent addition to my kit but an important one. I have things like bandaids, panadol, gloves, antiseptic wipes etc included - you never know when you might need it. You can get a basic kit from pharmacies and Officeworks in Australia, or work out what you need and make it up yourself.
I have sat through my fair share of emotional interviews and know how important this one is. Or it could just be that someone on your crew has a ridiculously annoying sniffle and you need to knock it on the head. Get a big pack of pocket size tissues and keep replenishing it throughout your shoot.
9. Makeup Kit
I am no professional makeup artist, but I do know the difference between someone who has a really shiny complexion, or a face that has had a small amount of powder applied and is completely unnoticeable. For this reason I carry a small kit of essentials, including loose powder, mascara and spare brushes, neutral lip gloss and tweezers.
You may be shooting a short project in a nearby city and think there's no reason to include a passport but I will never travel anywhere without mine. There have been a number of occasions i've been shooting something that should have been quick and easy and plans changed and we ended up flying interstate or even internationally. You may not want to carry it with you all the time but at least include in your clothing bag if you aren’t flying.
11. Media Pass
Whoever decided that media should be able to get cheaper luggage on flights, I thank you. The inclusion of this amazing card saved me about $3000 in luggage costs on a 4 week shoot. If you don’t have one already and are constantly flying, DO IT!
12. Petty Cash/Receipts Wallet
I usually have a separate purse for every production i'm on so that I can keep things very clear and ordered. In here i'll keep any petty cash or expense receipts that I get throughout the shoot. I tend to upload these receipts every day or two so I can keep it light and don’t have a massive job at the end of the shoot.
13. Business Cards
Have you ever been shooting in public, talk a few random people to jumping in as extras and they ask you if they can see it once it’s finished? Or the other one that i've had is being asked for contact details by a complete stranger who just happens to be looking for a production company at that moment. For this reason I carry with me a small stack of business cards so people can get in touch with me. Of course, if there is a potential job you could get out of the conversation it would be well worth taking their card as well to follow up with ;)
I still have a tendency to play it old school on shoot at times. I love scribbling notes down if i'm in a rush, or writing a to do list and working my way through it. There is a pretty sweet feeling that comes with putting a big fat line through a task on paper. So I always carry a notepad with me, and usually have a spare should anyone on the crew need it.
15. Pens & Highlighters
You will bring plenty with you and by the end of the shoot you will probably have one left that you obsessively keep with you at all times! Buy a big pack of pens at the start of the shoot and keep your kit replenished every day. I always have two, one for me and one for someone to use and normally loose.
16. Folder of documents
Imperative. I know we live in a digital age but please, please, please, print out some of your essential documents as a back up. I always have the days call sheet, at least 5-10 spare location and talent releases and any relevant scripts and shot lists. There have been many times the Director has wanted to see the shot list or script on paper so it's worth checking whether you can make anyone else copies - or just do it and be prepared.
17. External Storage
Whether it is a USB stick or an external hard drive, it is well worth including storage on shoot with you. I have had to transfer things over for printing for nearly every shoot I have been on, and, I have also been in situations where people have photo’s or video archival footage to give me and believe me when I say it is much easier to get it on the spot then at a later date.
THE ALL IMPORTANT WISH LIST:
This list is pretty short at the moment actually but one thing I have seen and must have very soon, is a portable power supply to charge my phone/laptop on the go. Thanks to my awesome friend Matt Jeppsen for that tip ;)
There you go… it feels like a lot but I honestly don’t know what I would drop if I had to cut it down. It is also always evolving, so if I am missing one of your must have inclusions please hit me up in the comments section, i’d love to hear what it is!
‘Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.’ - Alexander Graham Bell