In the business they call it Run & Gun filmmaking. There’s no script. There’s no schedule. There might not even be a Director. There’s just what’s happening and you have to capture it on video / audio to the best of your abilities. It occurs mostly on documentary productions, news reporting, live television, and reality shows. You can’t be sure that you’re in the right place at the right time because there really isn’t a right place or right time. If it looks interesting then you stay on it until something else looks more interesting. You just “catch as catch can” and hope that what you captured pans out in post. Let me tell you, it’s a lot of fun.
I got to do some running & gunning on a little documentary about healthcare providers and healthcare recipients. A New York City film crew came out to our little hamlet to shoot this short doc and hired me as a local gun. It was a lean crew, just four of us total, which allowed us to fit into some tight spaces and get great shots. There were a lot of interview setups in small medical offices which were challenging. Then there were several large gatherings of healthcare providers & recipients where we had to run & gun it. They also needed general around-town shots of our community so we often pulled over to the side of the road and just started shooting stuff. It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun.
They brought their own gear which included a Sony PMW-F3 camera (so popular right now that stores can’t keep them in stock), some Kino Flo Diva lights, and a Sound Devices Mixer/Sennheiser Boom Mic package. And I got to work with all of it. I love it when that happens.
Tip: a small crew is essential for documentary filmmaking. Bringing a large crew into someone’s house or a working environment is just not feasible. Also, having conspicuous crew members hanging around the production will alter the documentary subjects’ behavior giving the footage a falseness. Having a light crew footprint will allow you to get some great candid footage that will make for an interesting documentary.
The science videos I made for Point Reyes National Seashore (available on their Media Webpage) needed voice-over narration for their final cuts. Unfortunately, the Park Service did not have a sound studio to produce audio recordings. I had recorded “place holder” narrations using a consumer-grade microphone plugged into the Park’s old Canon GL2 camcorder. This worked fine for rough cuts but would not suffice for the final product.
Luckily, with the help of Professor David Sheerer and Timothy O’Malley, we were able to record the voice-over narration in a professional sound studio on the campus of Humboldt State University. We used Pro Tools to digitally capture the audio from our voice actor. We used a Sennheiser 416 microphone to give the audio an in-the-field documentary feel. The sound booth was acoustically dampened with fabrics and baffling. It was quite an experience and the narration turned out excellent.
Tip: use a “pop filter” in front of your microphone to dampen any hard p’s in your narration. If you can’t afford to purchase a pop filter then you can easily construct one from common materials. Check out this DIY link here