Hi, my name is Saba and I’m an assistant producer at Made Better Media.
In February I spent 10 days on the U.S. Presidential Election campaign trail and documented my trip through videos and interviews. Here is what I learnt about filmmaking:
Right place, right time
During my trip I heard that Donald Trump would be taking part in a Q&A session at a town hall in Salem, New Hampshire and if I wanted to attend a small group would be leaving at 7am. I realised that this opportunity would be unlikely to present itself again and Donald Trump would surely make for some good footage!
I shot around one hour of footage and one my return edited this into several videos. In early May the last two Republicans running against Trump dropped out, defeated, and so I saw the perfect moment to release one of my videos. ‘Donald Trump on The Syrian Refugee Crisis’ received over 6,000 organic views and 53 shares within 24 hours.
Always be prepared/Set up properly
There may be times when you find yourself in a hurry to shoot but I guarantee you will not regret setting up your kit properly before you begin. There is nothing more frustrating than being in the right place at the right time (see above) but coming away with poor quality footage.
I made the mistake of not taking my tripod to a Hillary Clinton rally. My handheld footage was not bad but it was a gruelling task trying to make sure I kept perfectly still and as I was zooming in considerably my footage same out a little shaky. This could have been avoided had I done some better planning beforehand.
Lighting and Sound
Setting up so that you have good lighting is important. If you are going to film after dark or as light is fading then it would be a good idea to carry some lighting equipment with you. In fact if you are aiming to be in the right place at the right time then there is every chance that you might find yourself wanting to shoot in low light and so I suggest always carrying some lighting equipment - even a torch!
Poor quality sound can be supported by adding subtitles but this is no substitute for GOOD quality sound. I used a handheld digital sound recorder which provided way better sound than the inbuilt sound recorder on my camera. In some of my interviews there were moments of auditory disturbance and on listening back I realised I should, on some occasions, have asked my subjects to repeat themselves.
One evening I was walking to meet some friends at a bar and I spotted two Donald Trump supporters wearing Trump badges walking down the street. I stopped them and asked if they would mind being interviewed. I spoke with them for 12 minutes each but had no way of lighting my frame and so did not bother with any video footage. This was a mistake as the material I recorded was fantastic.
Look the part and be fearless
You may not know what you are doing but looking like you do can lead you to capturing great video. Be confident and fearless when approaching people for interviews. If you are relaxed yet commanding this will make people feel at ease when talking to you... which makes for a much more engaging interview.
I arrived at a Hillary Clinton victory rally and realised that there was no space at all left in the hall in which she was due to give a speech. I would have to watch from a big screen outside the venue. I noticed a special area had been set up at the back of the hall with a raised platform for the media. I took out my camera and put on a lanyard with the blank card part tucked into my sweater. I then walked straight past security making sure I appeared to know where I was going. I then set up next to CNN and Channel 5 journalists and cameramen.
Learn from your mistakes
As you can see I made several mistakes whilst filming but the important thing is that I have learnt from them! Next time my filmmaking will be better and the time after that even better - practice makes perfect!