I’ve been experimenting with my ‘crew of one’ theory a little too often in the last few months. Due to low budgets, micro budgets or no budget I seem to find myself shooting without a crew. It’s not always a choice, but something that has been forced upon me by the realities of low budget filmmaking. And in the moment, it usually seems like a good idea.
I’ve been running tests to see which scenes I can shoot with a crew of one. Surprisingly, you can shoot almost anything on your own; you just have to shoot it slowly. Here are two key things I’ve learned so far from these tests:
- You need to have a plan. Don’t make things up out of thin air on the day of the shoot. Prepare a clear shot list and a (flexible) schedule that limits what you’re going to do to twenty shots or less. And don’t forget to give yourself plenty of time for set up and preparations.
- The main issue you will run into is the focus pull. You can add more light and keep the ISO a little higher than you’d like to keep things sharp, but even then you have to limit your movement. It’s a small price to pay.
Due to a recent back injury I’ve been forced to rethink ‘my crew of one’ experiments. For situations where I just can’t do it on my own, I think the trick will be in dividing up the scenes of future projects in such a way that clearly defines which scenes can be handled solo and which scenes need all hands on deck. It comes down to, how much more time can be added to the production? A crew of one leads to a slower shoot, but is faster always better? When I can, I’m going to keep rehearsing my ‘crew of one’ until I can get things as smooth and efficient as possible.
Looking back I've learned the the crew of one is a myth. It only works for very small shoots. It was an experiment that can only be pushed so far. Use the number of people needed for each shoot. Find a good team of people and build from there.