For a limited film you can make do with a director, camera man and sound operator. But you still need to follow all the instructions and spread the load.

To prove that you don’t need high end camera equipment, I found a short film that’s been entirely shot on iPhone. What you will still need are some lights and a good plan.


But let’s say you can get a crew.

First you need to find a Director of Photography (DP). They will need to have knowledge on:

  • The use of lighting i.e.
  • Colour temperatures, shadows
  • The use of cameras
  • ISO, white balance, frames per second, aperture


The DP is brought on to help you story board.

What is a story board?

It’s a shot by shot rendition of your idea. It doesn’t need to be fancy, so don’t worry. My art skills are questionable so stick figures will more than do.

Taken from


Now to find yourself an assistant director (AD). Their job is to

Sending out casting forms, arranging and coordinating food, make up so on. Plan a shooting schedule, use the clapperboard to mark the different scenes (you may thing this is not important but when it comes to audio editing you will be glad of it) and to hear any problems faced by crew (the director focuses on the cast).


What is a shooting list and schedule?

To make a shooting list, you will need to make a list of all your shots for each location. For example, number 1 in the above story board is a wide shot, whereas number 12 is a medium/close up. Once this list has been made, you plan the time it would take to film each shot (this is set up time and room for enough takes) that is the shooting schedule.


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Problems you face with different locations?

Inside a house there is limited amount of room and you will need to bring lights.

Outdoors, you can use natural light, which makes set ups a lot easier and faster, but you have a possibility of public ruining your shot especially with continuity* as a factor.

Cafes and bars, you will more than likely need a large group of extras. Also the lighting conditions will be poor and you will require lights.


My suggestion is to make your film as outdoors as possible to avoid too much lighting hassle, but try to find somewhere that you won’t be disturbed.

Most locations you will need permission for, so as soon as you know of a location, get in contact with the owner and always have some back up locations as not everyone wants a crew on their property.


Ensuring that a scene looks like what you would expect it to in real life… say the character has sunglasses on, if in the next shot he is not wearing them with no indication he took them off then this is a continuity error.

set design, makeup and wardrobe are also important
westerns need guns, warzones need combats and so on. The right location is one thing but also think about the character and what happens in the scene if it’s in the 1950’s you can’t have a mobile (this would fit under continuity also)


Audition your actors

If working on a low budget or student film, you can always ask them to work as a favour, but respect that some may decline and those who decide to help deserve a good feed over lunch. Always try and get proper actors who know how to work in front of camera if possible.

You need to get permissions written up just to keep you out of trouble. Just a simple permission document for the actors will do.

I allow this film ____________ to be shown anywhere


.. Signed ________________

Lastly risk assessment

This is where you work out the danger of something out of 3 and the probability out of 3 and if you add them together and it adds up to more than 4 then you think of a way you can make it slightly safe. If anything does go wrong and you have this and agreements signed then you should be fine.


Now all you need to do is find the rest of your crew and set a date.

For more information about crew members and equipment used on film sets, you can read my first film how to:  production and post