You’ve got the job,
the budget has been set, you’re starting your next production.
Now the hard work begins...
Here are our top ten tips to hiring the right suppliers for your upcoming on-location shoot:
In such a niche industry, experience is key to the success of your next production. If you’re looking for services such as catering or the running of Facilities Vehicles, there are plenty of suppliers at all ends of the market to choose from. Your budget will not only dictate the size and quality of items such as Facilities Vehicles available to you but also the level of input you’d be expected to give to run the shoot.
Larger, experienced suppliers will be able to help you plan and run the logistics of your job saving you valuable time in the long run. Bring them in early on and don’t be shy running through the bases, moves and even doing recce’s with them to ensure the vehicles will fit into the unit bases. Facilities vehicles account for a large proportion of the production budget and a reputable provider will be happy to run through it all with you in as much detail as you require.
The last thing you want is to turn up for a new filming day to find the trailers parked outside the unit base, causing pandemonium on the street, or your star trailer is wrapped around a lamppost because the entrance was not wide enough.
Bringing in an extra driver for the shoot can be more cost effective than bringing in swing drivers each evening
Filming on location is a feat of engineering. As the location manager or line producer, the logistics of the moves falls to you and it is not an easy task. Undertaking 3 or more moves a week, and / or long distance moves, can be particularly demanding on cast and crew. Don’t underestimate the number of, or length of moves to your facilities providers from the outset. Often, bringing in an extra driver for the duration of the shoot and / or planning to release the trailers in waves throughout the day and (when they’re finished with) can be more cost effective than bringing in swing drivers each evening.
WARN THE NEIGHBOURS
Filming in residential locations requires sensitive planning. A leaflet drop to explain your appearance at the end of someone’s road, or small tokens of appreciation through the neighbours’ letterboxes will help ensure your scene runs smoothly. Residents with disturbed sleep have plenty of power when it comes to complaining to the council who can restrict working hours or worse, make you relocate the set base.
USING THE LOCALS
Neighbours can also be a way to save money when filming on location. It is often cheaper to pay a local resident to utilise their electricity for the day than it is to bring in a generator to run your lights and cameras. However only consider approaching householders if your cable runs are short to minimise risk of tripping to pedestrians and local residents.
Before the job starts double check with your caterers whether they require a separate generator to power their kitchen. All catering equipment is different and some suppliers pull more power than others. When coupled with the Facilities’ electrical requirements some caterer's kitchens are known to trip the unit base generators and cause downtime on set. Ask the question early on so you’re not caught out.
PLAN YOUR PARKING SPACES
If some vehicles (such as catering trailers and diners) are not required after lunch, make sure there are signs and instructions to park them at the front of the unit base next to the exit. Once twelve other 40ft vehicles have blocked them in, it will be nigh on impossible to get them out.
With facilities vehicles the personnel are as important as the product
BASES ON A HILL
This is something of a logistical taboo for unit and set bases. Whilst flat uniform parking is always preferable, it is not always easy to find. Basing up on slight inclines is achievable by letting the team captain know in advance. He will ensure chock blocks are brought with to level the trailers, otherwise the crew will feel topsy turvy.
FRIENDLY TO DEAL WITH
If you’re looking for services such as catering or the running of facilities vehicles, the personnel are as important as the product. A friendly driver can make the difference to star actors, make up artists and busy production managers alike. They are working at your behest and are happy to help out where they can, even if it is not just on their vehicles. Make sure the drivers come recommended. Often the cast and crew have favourites from previous jobs and it might be worth checking with them to ensure cohesion throughout the shoot.
BACK UP SERVICE
As important as the drivers supporting the cast and crew on set, is the back up service you can expect to receive when things don’t go to plan. Filming demands long hours and last minute changes. Unforeseen obstacles can crop up along the way and it is then that using a reputable provider will come into its own.
Make sure you have a number of who to call in the event of an emergency for each service provider. Some facilities vehicles companies provide one point of contact throughout the shoot which is invaluable in saving you time and unnecessary stress when you need to iron out an issue. They will be fully up to date on the production logistics, enabling assistance when you need it most.
Something of a moot point with facilities providers. It is often not cost effective for facilities providers to dispatch extra vehicles at a moments notice for a shoot half way across the country and many will try to wriggle out of their obligations to you. Make sure your facilities provider knows that you might need extra vehicles during the production and that they are willing to supply you with them. Consider their network of yards across the country and volume of business and whether they can provide extra trailers at reasonable cost. If not, you might be caught out.