5 Production Lessons We Learned On the Set of ‘Unexpected’

July 28, 2022

Since 2005, we have completed over 3000 video and media projects for clients in our community and around the world. We’ve produced videos for a wide range of clients, including nonprofits, corporations, governmental entities, and local businesses. We have a deep understanding of how to create an effective visual message, and one of the most enjoyable parts of that process is production. 

Production is the time in which we capture all of the material and footage necessary to build a video. It’s the most recognizable phase within video production. But, it’s more complex than arriving with the proper cameras and lights and recording the action. A successful production day requires intention, flexibility, and a little bit of luck. Here are five lessons we’ve learned from our experience in production.

1. Don’t Just Work Within the Budget, Play in It 

A man and a woman kayak in St. Francisville

Most of the budget for the Eco-Tourism Marketing Campaign was allocated toward production rather than paying talent. So, as avid outdoorsmen and women, the Launch Media team was excited to take some of the starring roles and literally put our “play skills” to work. “All of the talent you see here is friends and family and favors.” – Chris Jeansonne, Creative Director. 

Additionally, in order to manage production time efficiently, our team chose to shoot this particular project with only available light, meaning the production crew relied entirely upon the natural light of the sun for all lighting sources. This requires less setup time and lowers cost while still producing remarkable results when approached strategically. “This was a super cool creative decision that ended up being a fun challenge. There are certain shots like hiking, where most of the sequence takes place under the canopy of the forest. So, we can shoot that at high noon. So, even if it is a high, harsh sun, the light is still getting broken up by the tree canopy. It’s all in the planning.” – Chris Jeansonne, Creative Director 

2. Never Underestimate The Importance of Location Scouting   

Cyclist bikes across a bridge

Location scouting is finding the places to film for a video and determining the logistics of what is required for the crew. It’s a survey of a potential area for production. While this sounds straightforward, the responsibilities of a location scout are not limited to selecting a compelling, cinematic spot. They must consider many other factors, like budget, distance, resource availability and accessibility, and lighting. 

When we produced West Feliciana Parish’s eco-tourism marketing campaign, Unexpected, we planned for extensive location scouting. The primary goal of this campaign was to successfully capture the focus of young, active professionals by showcasing the various eco-tourism offerings throughout West Feliciana. But, in order to film hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, and all the wonderful joys of outdoor recreation, we knew production would occur almost exclusively outside. In addition, the challenge of shooting with only available light required strategic visual forethought. 

For example, the shot above depicts a moment from the road biking sequence. Because it occurred in an open, uncovered stretch of road, the crew decided to capture the scene first thing in the morning. “We needed to get that nice, low, golden hour light. You can still get a little bit of shape on their faces without having to follow the bikers with a lighting rig through the roads.” – Chris Jeansonne, Creative Director 

3. Be an Enthusiastic Problem-Solver  

Cyclists bike through the forest in St. Francisville

Even with strategic planning, the reality of capturing certain shots often requires some modification to achieve the desired look. The key is to balance time management while exploring solutions and figuring out ways to adapt original plans.

In the sequence of the bikers coming down the bridge, a typical production crew might shoot the scene with a car rig or a crane. These features are mechanically designed to hold a camera and follow a fast, moving object, like a bicycle. However, in light of budget constraints, the crew got creative.  

“This shot was pretty tricky to pull off, especially with a small crew. So, we had a small transit van. And, we opened up the back doors and the side doors, and we had our DP <Director of Photography> Brock Gomez in the back of that van holding his camera and his rig which were not small. So, there wasn’t a whole lot of space, but that’s what it took to get the shot. I was driving, trying to match the speed of the bicycles, like they’re yelling at me, slow down! But, we did it, and it ended up being awesome.” – Ari Ross, Production Coordinator & Assistant Editor 

“It’s arguably some of my favorite footage I think I have ever personally been a part of. Like this is just an absolute taste of what we got on the day from that. Like we could create an entire commercial spine just revolving around this shoot, you know? It was definitely one for the books.” – Taylor Stoma, Editor 

4. Get to Know the People You’re Working With  

Owners of The Saint

Visualizing what matters is easiest when we really get to know the people we’re working with. Because of our past work with West Feliciana Parish, we’ve had many opportunities to understand the community and cultivate our relationships. We believe that fostering a relationship of trust and understanding can really take a message to the next level. 

“One of the greatest assets for this spot was how welcoming the town was and how welcoming the parish was. I would say by the end of this, we felt like we were part of the community.” – Chris Jeansonne, Creative Director 

As a small town, St. Francisville has a particular essence with a unique history, traditions, and idiosyncrasies. And, because of our relationship, we were able to bring our perspective and understanding of what they value to production. 

“If you get somebody who doesn’t understand the people there, the internal dynamics, you know, just how they operate, what their day to day looks like. You know, if you get somebody from the outside who comes in for a day… that wasn’t going to capture the right vibe.” – Chris Jeansonne, Creative Director 

5. Prepare to be Flexible  

Couple on a porch toasting each other

Production would be disastrous without the diligent planning of pre-production. However, while it is important to prepare well, production also demands a high level of flexibility and a willingness to adapt as challenges arise and perspectives shift.

The Unexpected shoot was challenging as many of the hiking and biking locations were very remote. So, all cameras and production equipment had to be hauled in by our four-person crew. And, one shot sequence was a two-mile round trip hike. Given the level of rigor and the nature of Louisiana weather, a good attitude and healthy dose of que sera, sera is certainly needed. 

“This project was a crazy two days. It was nuts. I mean, there are so many sets, so many shots that we got that are so beautiful. We’re such a small crew. Essentially it was, it was four of us. Always shooting outdoors in Louisiana. It’s tricky. You know, you never know what’s going to happen on a day. So, for it to come together as perfectly as it did, it’s awesome.” – Ari Ross, Production Coordinator and Assistant Editor 

Looking to start a project? We can help!  

Contact Us

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY

Back To Top