Filming on Location: Advice and Insight


The most important thing I have learned and can share with others is, that filming in the field isn’t easy. In fact, it’s pretty darn difficult.

This is not for the weak and I mean that literally. You must to be able to carry heavy equipment in locations that are not always ideal or easily accessed. Which brings me to my next point; you must always be prepared.

First, figure out what you are shooting.

What’s your story, angle, and point? Then figure out the location and the obstacles that particular location may have for you. For instance, I was shooting a feature on a local musician. I wanted footage of him in his natural habitat. He just so happened to work at a local bar in downtown, Wilmington.

Bars are typically dark and a little dingy…among other things, which posed as a problem. How was I going to light him? How was I going to record audio? What angles should I use? What type of shots/frames was I going to get? These are all questions I asked myself days before the shoot. Reading the articles I listed at the bottom of the page confirmed that planning ahead of time and being prepared for anything and everything is essential.

After you have figured out the what, when and where, go scout your location.

Find out if there are windows and which direction they face. At certain times of the day, if the sun is coming straight through the windows, that could be a problem for you. Check out the lighting that is available, which will help you figure out what type of lighting kit you’ll need. Are there mirrors or decorations that will distract or interfere with your shooting?

This one is super important, check your power supply. Make sure that your location has an adequate power source for your equipment. If inside, locate where the outlets are and plan around that.

For shooting outside it is important to know the weather forecast and examine the elements. Will it be cold, hot, rainy, etc.? Following the sun and managing your time is also important. If you are wanting a sunset vibe in your video, get to your locations hours before so that you are set up and ready for that type of lighting. Checkout the articles below for more information on location scouting.

What should you bring with you while filming in the field?

This is something I struggled with and had to ask the advice of those more experienced than I. It never hurts to get the opinion of others on what equipment you might need. However, I have learned from personal experience and from reading articles online, that there are some essentials you probably always want to have on hand.

You will want to have a Camera kit, Audio kit and a Lighting kit. According to the first article listed below these are the basics for those kits.

Your core Camera kit should include:

  1. Camera + Lenses
  2. Tripod
  3. Camera Kit Bag
  4. Batteries + Charger
  5. Storage Cards
  6. Reflector
  7. A small lighting kit (perhaps two Dedos or LED LitePanels)

Your core Sound kit should include:

  1. Audio Recorder + Spare Batteries
  2. Shotgun Mic
  3. Boom Pole
  4. 2 Radio Mics / Receivers + Spare Batteries
  5. Headphones
  6. XLR Cable + Backup XLR

Kit Bag essentials include:

  1. Lens Cleaning Fluid
  2. 1-Inch Brush
  3. Multi-Tool
  4. LED Torch
  5. Camera Tape
  6. Dust Off / Compressed Air
  7. Spare Camera Batteries
  8. Spare Cards/Tapes
  9. A Camera Rain Cover
  10. A Small Umbrella

They say this is “traveling light”. From my own experience you might not always have people willing to help you. Be prepared to carry the equipment yourself and invest in a cart of some sort. If you do have someone to help you, I highly suggest bringing a colleague, intern, student, friend, family member or whoever! It’s not really smart to film by yourself. One person, alone with extremely expensive equipment is just asking to get “jumped”. As a female, I find it essential to bring someone along when I’m filming even if they are just there for moral support. My sidekick is my sister. Although she never went to school for film, she finds it interesting and always offers me a creative eye.

Filming can be exciting and rewarding.

It definitely feels good to look back at your footage and see what you have accomplished. It also can feel really crummy to spend hours and hours planning, setting up, and filming, to end up not having any usable footage. Make sure you prepare and do it right the first time. Don’t feel embarrassed about being Knit Picky. If you have a vision, make it happen.


External hard drives, extra SD cards, whatever you have to backup EVERYTHING, do it! If your computer crashes, so does all your media, time and hard work. If your external hard drive is stolen, make sure you have that info/media saved elsewhere. Prepare for the unexpected because chances are, it will happen to you at some point.

Never leave your equipment in your car. Not only for the purpose of preventing theft but also because equipment does not do well in extremely cold or hot  weather. You could come back to find your equipment not functioning properly or warped (it actually happened to me once).

Final thoughts…

I thought I knew so much more about filming on location. I have worked on numerous big name productions but I was never the sole camera operator. I was never the person in charge. It’s easy to sit here and write all of this or to tell someone what it is supposed to look like. Actually being out there is a different story. When I had to make all of the decisions, set up my equipment, and be the director and camera op, it was tough. As a bit of a perfectionist, the biggest thing for me was admitting that I don’t know something. I think of the Socratic Paradox, “ I know one thing: That I know nothing.”. This is what makes you the wisest man.

I have accepted that there is always something I can learn and the way to do that, is through research and just hands on experience. Prepare and learn from your mistakes.


Being a Big Girl In a Small World

Big, defined as, ‘of considerable size, extent, or intensity’.


I am a Big girl in a seemingly large world. However, when I take a closer look at the world around me, it seems so small. Splashed across fashion magazines, television, and film, are images of women who are small. Small equals attractive. Big equals unattractive. That’s the message that I have always received.

However, this narrow-minded image of beauty has never really phased me. I have always been a big girl. As a child there were a few playground bullies that would pick on my weight, yet thankfully I am left with no emotional scars. I had some harsh uncles who would also say things about my weight. Once, my uncle even called me a walrus. I find the insult quite humorous now, when I was 13, not so much.

The most critical of the lot was probably my father. He would stoop as low as to use gifts or offer me money to bribe me to lose weight. I recall him making snide comments about everything I ate “That sure is a big helping.”

He would order for me when we would dine out and he constantly berated me for my cheese consumption.

The criticism made me resent him. I never wanted to eat around him. I’d try to eat before he got home from work or I’d take my meals to my room so that he wouldn’t harass me. I know he was concerned for my health and worried about bullies, but it still hurt my feelings. I hated that he couldn’t see that I was already beautiful as I was.

I knew I was attractive. I never had to fret over not having friends. Friends came to me like bees to a flower. I also never felt cast out by anyone. I was intelligent, good in school and often favored by my teachers. I never took the back seat. I always wanted to be in the spotlight. I was told I had a way with connecting to people that made my presence relatable even desirable. All of these things kept me strong against the attacks and criticism from the people around me.

But, I am Big. My body and my personality has never been small. How is this confidence possible when the odds are supposed to be against me?

My mother, father and sister were all gifted with natural beauty. Both of my parents tried their hand at modeling. They prided themselves in being small because they felt being small made them beautiful. One sister was often compared to Angelina Jolie or a Kardashian, however she is one of the most modest and sincere people I know. Despite the vanity of my parents and my sister’s own natural beauty, she never let it corrupt her pure soul. Although she did not use her beauty for success, she still believed small equals beautiful. My mom told me once that my sister’s beauty would get her far in life, but my charisma would take me to the top. At the time I felt like she meant I wasn’t beautiful but I know now that was not what she was saying. She was saying I was beautiful in a way that very few people are. I was Big, I was intense, I took up room and was impossible not to notice.

Have I had to fight adversity? Of course! Any women over a size 6 feels body shame at some point. In fact, women of any size are capable of feeling body shamed. One of the most embarrassing instances I have encountered was the horrifying moment someone assumed I was pregnant. Yes, that’s right, this woman broke the golden rule, never openly ask a woman if she is pregnant if you are not 100% sure. I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who can relate to this situation. I was coming into work one morning and happened to be wearing a dress that cinched underneath my breast, which left the dress flowy around my mid section. I was the manager of a retail store at the time and we had security issues the night before, so a female security guard had spent the night in our store. I began putting my belongings into my locker in the back office where the security woman was sitting. She greeted me politely and said,

Gee, you’re about to pop, aren’t you?”

Immediately I knew what she was insinuating. I hoped she had meant that she could tell I was stuffed from my breakfast, which I was. I had just scarfed down an egg sandwich and a large coffee. However, I couldn’t help sounding surprised when I retorted,

Excuse me?”

I wanted to press my finger to her lips and stop the words from coming out of her mouth. The look on her face said it all. She knew she had f**ked up. Her face washed red with embarrassment.

I’m so sorry. I….I assumed you were pregnant.”

I could hear her pride somewhere down in her stomach grumbling in pain. I wasn’t sure who I felt more embarrassed for, her or myself. I sarcastically assured her that I was not pregnant, just fat. She winced at the word fat as if I had hit her. I could tell she was mortified. She apologized again before quickly grabbing her belongings and rushing out of the store. I must admit it left a damper on my mood but who was she to ruin my day with her small minded assumptions? Not to mention, she didn’t call me ugly or really use any harsh or harmful words. She simply assumed I was growing a child in my belly, when really I was only growing a food baby. In fact pregnant women are often marked as glowing and beautiful. I suppose I could take it as a compliment, right?

I’ve also dealt with the “Mean Girls”.You know? The ones that cake on makeup and wear the least amount of clothes possible to get attention…yeah, those girls. I’ve heard whispers of, “How did she bag that guy? He’s so hot and she’s so fat?” or the backwards compliment, “You’d be really hot if you just worked on your body”. I always smile and say “Thanks” while thinking in my head, I already feel hot. I don’t need to be small to feel attractive.

The point I am trying to get to with all of this is, the views of the world will always change. It’s your view of yourself that truly matters. I don’t condone being unhealthy, but I do believe you have to love yourself even when you aren’t at your healthiest weight. I have my moments of insecurity but ultimately I know my strengths and that is what makes me feel beautiful. I can find humor in almost any situation. I make people laugh with my random rants. When I do my makeup I know it’s on fleek. I dress my body appropriately and keep up with styles that fit my personality. I can give a sexy stare like nobodies business and I have no problems attracting men. I am Big. Bigger than the adversity I face. Bigger than the close minded individuals who think it’s ok to judge and shame others’. My personality is of considerable size. I am intense and my beauty is extensive beyond my dress size. Could I improve my health by eating better and working out more frequently? Absolutely. I do desire to do right by my body. My temple deserves to be treated right and I have made steps to do so. Whether I lose weight or always stay thick, I will always hold the same confidence and love for myself.  My view of who I am is not valued on my weight or size of my clothes.

Find a way to feel beautiful about yourself and once you do you can be Big too.