Getting ‘match fit’ for filming again

Essex cameraman bellafilms

Match fit

So if like me, you’ve spent the last three months stay­ing at home and avoid­ing non essen­tial jour­neys you’ll no doubt be excit­ed about the prospect of get­ting back out in the field to work again.

The last phys­i­cal film­ing I did was in Decem­ber and since then I’ve only worked on edit­ing and After Effects projects so the cam­eras and pro­duc­tion equip­ment have bare­ly been used.

After lock­down #1 last year, one the first projects Bel­la Films worked was a com­mer­cial for a well known bet­ting com­pa­ny and I don’t mind admit­ting that all did not go smooth­ly that day.

Sim­ply put, I was not match fit. The three months of lock­down #1 had knocked me out of my stride com­plete­ly. The mus­cle mem­o­ry of using kit that you use day in day out had fad­ed, equip­ment had become unfa­mil­iar and as a result I made mistakes. 

For­tu­nate­ly I man­aged to enact a back up plan and res­cue the sit­u­a­tion, the project was fin­ished suc­cess­ful­ly and went out in Sep­tem­ber. I even worked with the client again in August on anoth­er project which thank­ful­ly went with­out a hitch.

Any time some­thing goes wrong, it’s impor­tant to reflect and learn from the mis­takes and one of my key learn­ings from that day was to ensure you’re match fit’ after any peri­od away from your role.
In my case it’s get­ting cam­eras and lens­es in my hands again, ensur­ing the core func­tions, assign­a­ble but­tons and grip are familiar.

To this end I took one of our Sony FS5MK2s with a new (only used once) lens for field test­ing yesterday.

The sim­ple tasks of chang­ing lens­es, putting the tripods up and down and mak­ing those fine adjust­ments to pic­ture pro­files, white bal­ance and expo­sure were a valu­able reminder of what the cam­era can do and how to use it.

It’s also impor­tant to charge and dis­charge bat­tery cells, after all they been sit­ting on shelves for three months!

I noticed quite a few things about my per­for­mance with the cam­era, how I’d for­got­ten cer­tain menu short cuts and assign­a­ble but­tons, how I’d for­got­ten to turn on the 48V phan­tom on the mic input (no audio on a shot­gun mic with­out it!), all things which you need to remem­ber if you’re going to be match fit for that first job out of lockdown!

Suf­fice to say it’s bet­ter to refresh your mem­o­ry of how to use your key equip­ment when a client isn’t pay­ing for that time!

So if I learned any­thing, it’s to pre­pare well before get­ting back in the field again, what­ev­er it is you do. Don’t assume things will imme­di­ate­ly feel the same as they did three months ago, give your­self time and don’t be too hard on your­self if you make a few lit­tle mis­takes, you’re only human after all!