A Filmmaker's Checklist: 7 Things to Double-Check Before You Hit Record

Filmmaking ChecklistHitting the record button can be nerve-wracking. It's the culmination of the entire pre-production phase of shooting your film, and by all accounts it should be a cathartic experience knowing that your vision is being translated into a tangible image. However, there are a few basic (and easily avoidable) missteps that can ruin your shoot and your final image. The folks over at Videomaker have compiled a list of 7 things that you should always do and/or check before hitting record. Check it out:

Here are a few of my favorite tips from the Videomaker post:

1. Test Your Gear: Just because your tools worked last time doesn't guarantee it will work this time, so always take time to pull out all of your gear and put it through its paces a day or two before your shoot. Do it every time with every piece of equipment: camera, lights, mics, monitors... all of it. It's important to test your gear in advance of the shoot so you have time to make repairs or find replacements in case you do discover any defects.


3. Prep Your Media: Depending on the type of camera you shoot with, prepping your media may mean buying tape or clearing off your digital media cards or hard drives to make sure you have room to record. Allow adequate time for this task, just in case you need time to transfer media off the cards before swiping them clean.


6. Clean Your Lens: Once you're on set, your prep work isn't done. There are a couple important things to do before you roll. One of the simplest is to clean your lens with a lens tissue. I have two tips for you here: 1 - always clean the lens before you shoot. Always. I can't tell you how many times I have seen beautiful footage corrupted by dusty, streaky, dirty lenses. Always wipe your lens. 2 - Your lens is very sensitive to abrasives, so only clean it with a genuine lens cloth designed for cleaning camera lenses. Don't use a facial tissue... or your sleeve.

I can't even begin to tell you how many times one of these three things, or some combination thereof, has bitten me in the ass during a shoot. I've brought gear to sets only to find out that it wasn't working. I've had improperly formatted cards and cards with old data that hadn't ever been transferred hold up the production process. And I've had dusty and smudged lenses ruin some pretty spectacular shots.

While it's fairly easy to make and follow checklists to avoid these types of rudimentary problems, the best possible thing that you can do is to make an in-depth pre-recording routine and then force it to become habitual. That way, no matter how frantic or hurried your production might be, you will never (or just very rarely) fall victim to these common plights of the modern filmmaker.

You can check out the rest of Videomaker's tips here.

What do you guys think? What is your process as you get ready to hit record? How do you avoid these common pitfalls? Let us know in the comments!

Link: 7 Things To Do Before You Shoot - Videomaker

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Your Comment


8. Check exposure/settings - aperture, frame rate, shutter, white balance & ISO

July 30, 2013 at 11:12AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Hey Smarty pants, that's what #1 states, "1. Test Your Gear".

July 30, 2013 at 12:05PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I think what Wes meant was to double check your exposure, aperture, frame rate etc. one last time before you hit record. I've rolled 30fps instead of 24 before. Didn't notice it due to lack of motion in the scene. It sucks cause it's so easy to check, and so easy to forget when you're in a rush.

July 30, 2013 at 12:48PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I interpreted Step #1 with my 2nd grade reading skillz as "make sure your stuff actually works before you head out the door." I hope you don't set your exposure before you go out and shoot ;)

July 30, 2013 at 2:09PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Check your hamburger....

July 30, 2013 at 1:56PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Good one to check before you hit record: that you're not already in record. There is nothing more shameful than to miss a shot because you got out of sync (and I say that from personal experience).

Also I wouldn't necessarily clean lenses every day. Even unused lens cloth could have picked up some lens scratching grit. Check the lens front and back, yes. But only clean it if it needs it.

July 30, 2013 at 3:34PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Check the weather.

July 30, 2013 at 6:18PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


The article's #7 suggestion about zooming in to set focus only works, of course, if the lens you're using is parfocal. Most professional video/cinema glass is parfocal, but if you're using cheaper lenses or lenses designed for still photo cameras, they'll usually be varifocal, meaning that your image will end up at least a little out of focus after a zoom.
The digital zoom/"punch in" functionality on most video cameras is a nice substitute for parfocal lenses, at least in terms of setting initial focus.

July 31, 2013 at 8:49PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Ditto on the cleaning lesn... lol I've been guilty of that way too many times.

August 1, 2013 at 1:52AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


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April 5, 2014 at 1:48AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

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July 14, 2014 at 1:41AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Make sure you have you check list with you.

July 14, 2014 at 6:47PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM