To plan or not to plan?

Throughout an education in media production or film studies, you would probably have it drummed into you. Plan plan plan! Which is a good rule generally speaking.

If you are hoping to create the next Good Will Hunting or Juno on a shoestring budget, or if you’re looking to be a bit more ambitious and challenge a Marvel movie for a summer number 1. Well then it’s vital to have conducted extensive pre-production planning of course.

Ok let us draw back to more realistic goals! Even small productions with one or two man crews can benefit from planning. Storyboarding, shot list, scheduling, location recce, kit requirement assessment are just some of the things you may need to consider. But all combine to make a director as prepared as he can be.

There can be room for spontaneity on shoots, absolutely. Camera angles and shots which haven’t been considered in pre-production can leap out at you as you’re in the environment and inspired by the scene. Dialogue changes as the actors become more accustomed to the character. Personally I would always like to leave some wiggle room for this sort of off book activity, some of the best moments in cinematic history haven’t been planned.

But there is a lot to be said for creativity and a completely unplanned video. Of course i’m still talking small scale here, the one man heading out into the great unknown with a camera sort of thing. Except in this example it’s just the Gnoll park in Neath. Hardly the great unknown, granted.

I recently purchased the Ronin-S, a 3-axis gimbal for use with my Sony FS5. A fantastic combination of equipment which is extremely powerful (I’ll probably write a full review soon). But it just served as a reason to get out and film something, without a plan, without a storyboard.

Without a music choice yet confirmed and without any other thought to what the final video would look like. It became a joy to just hit the record button and be free in what I was capturing. As I was walking through beautiful woodlands following my family around, an edit started to form in my head. ‘This shot can lead to this’, ‘Then I need the reverse shot’.

The video I produced here as part of this unplanned impromptu forest walk around took me about 30 minutes to complete the first rough edit, it changed very little after that. It was simply a joy to film and edit and I am so happy with the result.

If you’ve never worked constraint free then I’d thoroughly recommend it, just let yourself experiment with a camera and a subject and see what happens, it may surprise you.

‘A little journey’


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