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5 Things You Need To Know When Hiring a Camera Crew

Original publish date: January 11, 2013

Camera CrewSeasoned HD video producers know that the best way to ensure a successful shoot is to surround themselves with a reliable, experienced freelance camera crew. But hiring camera crews for productions locally or internationally can be a challenge, with shrinking production budgets and timeframes, plus more competition than ever for top end talent behind the camera.

So how do you find and secure the best camera crew for your projects, time and again? Here are a few basic tips for hiring a camera crew for your next project.

  1. Get a Reference or Three. Ask potential camera crew members not only for a demo of their work, but for references from their last three clients. You’ll want to be assured that the crew you choose are not only creatively and technically competent, but are professional in every aspect of their service – including communications and client interaction.
  2. Hire Locally. If you’re shooting overseas, recognize the inherent issues with time zones, cultures, and the speed of doing business. We often think about travel and working conditions only in the context of what we experience in our own town or country. But each location has its own set of challenges. Getting from here to there looks simple on a map, but can take far more time on mountain roads versus superhighways. Getting shooting permits is a little trickier in Morocco than in Michigan. A well-vetted local camera crew that knows the terrain, permitting regulations and local customs is a must.
  3. You Get What You Pay For. Budget worst case scenario for freelance camera crew rates. Freelance camera crews are working for different producers each day at rates that are sometimes determined by program complexity, length of assignment, and their own availability and interest. While you want to get the best value from the freelancers you choose, don’t tie your hands in the budget stage by lowballing rates.
  4. Happy Crew, Happy You. Treat your crews well on the job. Make sure that you plan for breaks and meals during your shoot – especially if you are shooting on a long day or in difficult circumstances. A happy, well-fed camera crew is a productive camera crew! And a crew that is happy with their last work with you will be happy to return for your next project…and perhaps at a favorable rate!
  5. Safety First, Second and Last. Always be safe, and make sure your camera crew is safe as well. Make certain that your crew have the appropriate safety equipment that may be required by the environment. If you’re shooting in a construction site, steel-toed boots can save a foot. And be sure to know ahead of time where the nearest medical facility can be found.

These basic tips can help get you on the right track with hiring a camera crew on your next project. As with other elements in the production cycle, it’s your choice as to how much time to devote to finding a crew, whether to turn over this job to a production manager, or to utilize a crew booking service like Media Services Camera Crews Worldwide. Often, getting the best camera crews can be a combination of all of the above. But it always starts with careful and comprehensive planning by producers on just what level of talent they need to make their show sparkle.

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