Five Filmmaking Mistakes to Avoid on Set

The filmmaking process is a deceptively complicated practice. No matter how experienced you may be, you’re bound to make a mistake every now and again which is absolutely fine since no one is perfect. You may think you have everything all figured out when all of a sudden, something on set goes wrong.

Lack of time at the location, bad weather, or even poor planning could result in having an entire cast and crew breathing down your neck wondering what to do. The goal before every production is to try and avoid these mistakes so the reasonable question that always stands is what are the things you should pay close attention to that will keep you out of trouble? Jordy Vandeput from may have some of the answers for you with his video on the Top 5 filmmaking mistakes you should avoid on set as well as in post-production.

To avoid running out of time in the production day for all your shots, Jordy recommends planning out your schedule in advance. A good rule of thumb is that when shooting a feature, short, or commercial, you should always account for a 30 minute setup time for shots. This includes getting the camera ready, switching lenses, rigging lights, etc. Besides the prep time, another guideline to follow is that for every minute of story in your film, you will require 7-10 shots. Having this time guide in mind will help you shoot more efficiently and avoid shooting too much or too little.

Just because you think you can do everything on set doesn’t necessarily mean you should If you aren’t extremely confident in completing a task, or if you think your effort on set should be focused more on one role than another, just ask for assistance. For example, if you need to pull off a complicated visual effect or if you need a custom score for your film, don’t waste time trying to learn such intricate aspects of production. Instead, ask someone who specializes in that field. By doing so, you will have a much better outcome in your project since everyone is invested in their niche.

When you have a budget to buy equipment, do not spend all your money on the camera itself. Sure, you may have the cash to shoot 8K on the RED Weapon camera, but does that mean you should? Do you even have enough money to purchase the ‘optional’ accessories to make the camera run? Do you have money for a tripod, microphone, or even lights?

Rather than spending all your money on the camera, try buying one that will allow you to expand its abilities in the future. Remember, cameras, like smartphones, are not commonly future-proof. Doing some extra research and digging around to see what will give you the most flexible upgrade options in the future will result in a better overall investment.

When you’re on a shoot where time is a luxury, you may get pressured and just think you can easily fix imperfections in post, whether it be the white balance, focus, or framing. More often than not, what you think you can fix in post ends up being virtually impossible, and you inevitably drown in regret having to fix a problem that would have been easier to solve if you had been more careful in production.

Lesson learned: don’t always rely on post-production to fix mistakes. Double check your camera settings and take the proper time to ensure that everything on set is as perfect as can be. An easy way to save your soul from despair in post is to do a safety take just in case your original take may have problems that you did not notice in production.

Even if there may be someone out there in the filmmaking community who you deeply despise, remember that in the end, we all have the same goal: to make films. It’s important to remember to put your ego on hold and to open yourself to learning from those around you. There will always be someone who is better than you at what you do. What’s important is that you try to improve upon yourself however you can. Even if you’re an established visual effects veteran, there will still be those out there who may know new techniques you may be interested in.

What are some of the tips and tricks that you have learned the hard way through trial and error on set? Let us know in the comments below.


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