Being a video production company in New York City, we often get asked to film on street videos. When that happens, our video crews do their best to avoid recreating the infamous “I’m walkin’ here” scene from Midnight Cowboy.
The visual payoff of a crowded New York City street – bustling with people, cars, and intrigue – is obvious. But so are the perils and pitfalls of shooting on street videos. Here are a few tips to remember when shooting your next on-street montage or recording an interview:
- Get Permission – While most street videography and photography is permitted, there are areas around your town where you may not be able to film. Because of this, you should always ensure that you have a permit to shoot. If you are planning on capturing a scripted film or video with heavy equipment and a large crew, you will need to obtain the required permits.
- Pre-Production – If you’re grabbing video footage on a crowded street, you should know the amount of traffic you will face. Try to scout the location the day before to get an idea of the space. Look out for any obstructions to your shots and any areas that may be hazardous to you personally. Plan your shots carefully so that when you arrive with equipment on the street, you know exactly where to go and how to get there.
- Man-on-the-Street Interviews – There are entire television shows now that are based strictly with man-on-the-street interviews. There is something quite exhilarating and honest about grabbing an insight from a stranger on the side of the street. Make sure you have the proper release forms and waivers with you during the shoot. If you don’t, all that great footage will be for nothing. Also, be confident when you are approaching a stranger. If needed, prepare how you’ll approach the people during the pre-production stage.
- Safety, Equipment and Crew – If you are shooting on the street, try to keep a skeleton crew; only bringing along the bare minimum amount of people required. If you plan it right, you could carry a tripod, camera and a boom mic on your own to grab great video. If you do need another assistant, have them also help you navigate the street and watch your back for safety as you get your footage.
Go out there and shoot amazing video on the street! Be safe, plan ahead and bring a friend to help!