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filming a night shoot

Night Shoot Survival Guide for Film & TV Crew

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Night shoots aren’t the most convenient or comfortable working day you’ll come across, but inevitably they pop up from time to time. Some jobs may even require weeks of unsociable hours, depending on the subject matter or story line. Here’s a few quick tips to help you prepare for night shoots and make them go as smoothly as possible.

Check hours and overtime rates

First of all, check the hours and your overtime rates. Rates change depending on the hours and you may be entitled to a rest day or overtime payment. For example, a night shoot that wraps at midnight and will be classed as a standard day but once it goes past midnight you should either have an additional payment or rest day. Have a look at the BECTU website for the current and accurate rates and conditions. You should also talk to the Line Producer or Production Manager beforehand, to make sure you’re on the same page with regards to hours and fees.

Always bring snacks on a night shoot

There will be catering as usual, but you could find yourself running low on energy and it’s a good idea to keep a supply of snacks on hand. It may be tempting to stock up on fizzy drinks, sweets and chocolate but these will play havoc with your sugar levels and won’t help you maintain energy and focus on a night shoot. Fruit, protein bars and other high-energy foods are much better and will keep you going for longer.

Bring a head torch

Any torch will be useful but a head torch is the best option, as you can remain hands free and focused on your work. Most smartphones have a torch function but these drain your battery and are fiddley, which is where the head torch comes in handy. The important thing is to remember to turn it off during takes! You don’t want to shine the light in the actor’s eyes or cast a mysterious shining light over the set.

Try to nap before call time

The day before a night shoot you’ll probably feel tempted to get up at normal time and make the most of your day. And naturally your body clock with wake you in the morning. But rather than staying up all day and trying to force your body clock to adapt straight away, the best thing you can do is try to nap in the afternoon or evening, as this will make you the most energized. It’ll also help you adjust to the time changes.

Research nearby accommodation

You might not live very far away from the location but night shoots take their toll so it’s useful to research nearby accommodation in case you become too tired to drive home. If you live far from the location as if production can provide accommodation and if they can’t, then still consider organising it for yourself. Either way it’s always safer to stop and sleep than push on and drive.

Bring layers

Temperatures can drop suddenly and go surprisingly low on a night shoot. Bring lots of layers, including hats and gloves, even when shooting in the summer or in a warm location. As always, make sure you’ve got your waterproofs and spare clothing too. You should always have lots of options when shooting on location, but even more so for night shoots.

Figure out your route home

Normal service may not apply and nobody wants to be stranded on location after working a night shoot. If possible, its always best to have your own personal transport but not everyone has a car. If you do have to rely on trains or buses, make sure you know the times and have an alternative plan in place in case there are any problems. Download the Uber app or source details of a local taxi firm as a back up.

Be prepared for people to be grumpy

Night shoots are exhausting and people naturally become tired, especially if working a series on night shoots in succession. Try to be considerate of this and be prepared that some people may not seem their usual selves. Then again you may find you bond with your fellow crew members even more during this trying time. Which leads me on to…

Be extra nice to the Sparks!

During a night shoot the Gaffer and Sparks will be working at their absolute hardest. And in the dark, more than ever, everything everyone else does depends on them. Try to keep out of the way and be considerate of the fact that night shoots are particularly trying for them and they will be busier and in more demand than ever.

Although night shoots might not be the best time during a production, they’re a great experience for pushing you to your limits and learning to overcome obstacles. If you can learn to work happily and efficiently during nights, you can handle anything a production might throw at you.

Danielle Johns
Danielle Johns
Film / TV / Commercial Production Person, Writer and Blogger
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