Choosing a killer travel team starts with the leads, and more often than not the leads are full-time, in-house employees. Working together daily and being involved in pre- planning activities works to promote an atmosphere where creativity is the focus and logistics become second nature. When the team is all working at the same frequency, taking the show on the road can be exciting and gives you and your team a way to bond through travel. Below we have rounded out a standard away team. Some of the support positions are optional, but included to ensure that leads are able to focus on their creative decisions and allow their support staff to handle most of the logistics.

Director

Responsible for the creative direction of the entire shoot. The director makes the final call on set when it comes to every aspect of the look and feel of what ends up in the can. Think of this person as the conductor of the shoot. All other leads will offer their professional advice within their area of expertise, but at the end of the day, the director makes the final call on everything on set.

Support Position: PA (Production Assistant) or Swing

This person is a utility player. They are familiar with all aspects of the shoot and are ready to lend a hand wherever needed on set. Whether filling in for a grip for a few minutes, or running to a local shop to grab a last minute set piece, this person needs to be able to switch their mindset at a moment’s notice. When choosing a PA or Swing position, look for someone that is high energy and has the ability to understand what is needed of them quickly and accurately.

Director of Photography

Responsible for setting up each shot required for the final piece, including lighting, angles and camera movement. The DP often operates the camera or directs the cameraman to ensure that the director’s vision is captured.

Support Position: First AC (First Assistant Cameraman)

The First AC can have a number of responsibilities on set. As the assistant to the DP, the First AC is under their direction and can either work behind the camera as a camera operator, or as an assistant with responsibilities in everything from lens placement to camera movement.

Lighting Director

The Lighting Director is responsible for all things lighting on set. Whether that means choosing when to shoot (needing a specific light from a certain time of day), or choosing what gels and filters to use on an indoor shot, the LD is responsible for setting the tone using light and shadow.

Knowing that great lighting can make or break a shot, this position is incredibly important to setting the tone of the project.

Support Position: Grip

Grips are that utility player that can play third base and then do the team’s collective taxes. They are also the muscle of the shoot. Moving set pieces, helping to set up lighting rigs, moving equipment from the truck to the set, taping down cables, or holding a boom mic, the Grip is all over the set. When selecting someone for the Grip position, look for the same key traits you would look for in a First AC. Someone high energy and quick to understand what is needed.

Ancillary Positions

Some positions will not be necessary on every shoot, but can be incredibly helpful when budget allows. One of the favorites, is a Prop Stylist. This person is responsible for everything seen on camera, and works with the director to understand the nuance of the shoot. Time period, location and tone of the shot play into every decision about what makes it into the background. The prop stylist would procure and set each piece, paying close attention to continuity. Having a Prop Stylist on set can really help to get the emotional response we want from a single shot.

Travel or Local Hands?

The Leads are chosen and the support crew needs have been agreed upon, now you have a decision to make: Travel or Local?

Bringing crew you have worked with before, crew that you trust to carry out your creative vision, is ideal but not always feasible. Traveling with support crew is not typically within a project’s budget. Taking into account travel expenses, lodging and per diem, traveling support crew can quickly become cost prohibitive, and hiring local crew becomes a necessity.

But where do I find great crew in out-of-the-way locations? At Farmore we work with social media to build a base of local crew members from all over the US. Using services like Facebook Groups, you can find local crew advertising in every city. These groups often have rating systems, so that you can gauge the abilities and professionalism for every position you need.

Keep in mind these positions are unofficially tiered in a way where you may “get what you pay for”. Good work is not cheap, is a great way to gauge your selection process.

Finalizing the Team

Once all of the above decisions have been made, the next step is communication. Remember that the efficacy of your shoot will hinge on whether or not your team is all on the same page. Be sure to choose people that share your passion and your vision. Finally, take the time to thoroughly vet any crew you have not worked with in the past; ensuring that personalities align and you are all working towards the same goal.