6 Tips for filming in extreme locations
Video production can be thrilling and challenging when you’re filming in extreme locations. Whether capturing stunning landscapes or shooting in a pitch-black forest at midnight, the key to success lies in preparation and planning. Here are six tips to help you produce high-quality videos in unique locations.
1: Safety first
Safety should always be a top priority when filming in extreme locations. Make sure to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of yourself, your crew, and anyone else in the area. This includes following any safety guidelines, carrying first aid equipment, identifying the nearest medical center, and having a communication plan in place should a medical emergency occur.
2: Scout it out
Before you even pack your bags, do thorough research on the location you’ll be filming in. This includes learning about weather patterns, terrain, surrounding areas, traffic and flight patterns, and any unique features or hazards. Once you have a good grasp of the area, plan a location scout. This will give you an opportunity to get a feel for the space, plan logistics, identify any potential challenges, and select the best angles for your shots.
We’ve been from one extreme to another
Filming high up in the beautiful backcountry near Park City, Utah
3: Have backups
We don’t realize how many things we take for granted on an everyday set – like hot coffee, bathrooms, and climate control. But when your call time is 4 am and your first shot of the day is in the middle of a frozen lake, you’ll be kicking yourself for failing to think through considerations like these well in advance. Logistics like tents for talent holding and wardrobes, power options, bathrooms, parking, lanterns, and flashlights for early mornings or late nights, and transportation for gear, crew, and talent across a large set are all considerations for extreme locations. And as with every aspect of production…have a backup plan for your backup plan.
4: Have a guide
If you’re planning a shoot in an unfamiliar area, consider bringing your location contact along during production. Let them be your sherpa! They can show you the ropes and point out important things to know about how to get around and where nearby facilities are. Having someone with you who knows the area like the back of their hand – and can help you navigate – is always better than guessing and reduces the risk of making potentially catastrophic mistakes.
5: Communication is key
Make sure your cast, crew, and client partners are well aware of the more unconventional aspects of your shoot. Send reminders about weather conditions and what to bring for safety and comfort. You may think it goes without saying to wear closed-toed shoes or layers, but calling out specific considerations can be a lifesaver since your crew may not necessarily be accustomed to working in a more extreme environment. Of course, it never hurts to supply enough food, water, and extra gear to take care of the folks who might come to set less prepared.
6: Positive attitudes
Anything can happen when you’re 15,000 feet above sea level or deep in a national forest after midnight. Not everything will always go as planned, so having a positive, flexible attitude and remaining calm will allow creative solutions to be found. Production days are long and can be taxing on the crew mentally and physically, especially in extreme or remote conditions. Being positive, encouraging, and supportive of your crew (and making sure they’re properly fed and hydrated) will go a long way to keep your crew in good spirits and working great.
Some gear is precious and you need to take it back by hand
Hiking back to our location while filming at the Red River Gorge