The first day of a shoot is always a little disorienting. Even if you spent weeks or months planning it, there's always that "fish out of water" moment where your mind goes blank and you're pretty sure that you should be assisting customers with their camera purchase at a Best Buy somewhere. So, how do you get grounded? How do you get your head back in the game and thinking about all of the important filmmaking stuff that probably kept you up for hours the night before? In this video, Zach Ramelan shares some thoughts about what he learned while shooting a commercial for a gym in Toronto, all of which will not only help you make better films and videos but will also help bring you back down to earth when the ginormous task in front of you puts your head in the clouds.

Like I said earlier, no matter how much planning you went through beforehand, taking that first step on set can be a little overwhelming, so having a few go-to techniques, concepts, and tasks already swimming around in your head will help you hit the ground running, not to mention will also help you realize the potential of your projects' visuals. Here are the tips Ramelan goes over in the video.

  • Explore the location: Once you get to your location, explore it. Find all of its unique eccentricities, its most beautiful vistas and vantage points, and any props and objects that you could potentially use in your project.
  • Think like an editor: While you're on set coming up with shot ideas, you should be thinking like an editor. In other words, find out how you can use the space to perform better edits and unique transitions once you head into post.
  • Build atmosphere: One cheap/free way of adding style and depth to your images is by building atmosphere. What's atmosphere? It's essentially the tone, mood, or feeling of your shot. You can do this with lighting, either creating interesting lighting effects or shooting during different times of day (like Golden Hour), or with fog, smoke, or haze.
  • Change your perspective: If you want to create something that is visually intriguing, one way to do it is by shooting from intriguing perspectives. Try new angles, internal frames, and camera movements. Put your camera in places that you've never put it before. Experiment!
  • Stay motivated:  It's difficult to maintain your passion and motivation on a project, especially if it's particularly long. However, it's absolutely imperative that you do whatever you need to to keep that fire burning because that lack of passion will most certainly show up in your film. 

How do you ground yourself on the first day of shooting? What are some tips for seeing the potential in the visuals of your films and videos? Let us know down in the comments.

Source: Zach Ramelan