Traveling for a Shoot: The Essential Guide to Staying Organized and Prepared

This article offers a comprehensive guide for individuals in the television and film industry who travel for shoots. It covers essential topics such as gathering trip details, planning routes, tracking expenses, understanding your schedule, and packing gear. The focus is on effective planning and organization to ensure a smooth and successful shooting experience.


9/3/20233 min read

If you're in the television and film industry, there will inevitably come a time when you'll have to pack your bags and travel for a shoot. Whether it's a commercial, a documentary, or even a short film, the logistical challenges that come with shooting at a remote location can be a little daunting. But fret not! In this article, we'll walk you through what to expect and how to prepare when you travel for a shoot.

Get All the Necessary Information

First and foremost, collect all the details you'll need for your trip. These include the hotel you'll be staying at, the transportation arrangements, and addresses of all the places you'll need to be. Usually, a production coordinator will provide this information at least a week prior to your travel date. If you haven't received it, don't hesitate to reach out and ask. Keep in mind that the production's schedule is constantly fluctuating as different challenges arise due to cast, locations, permits, etc. so be patient if you don't have all the details weeks ahead of time. Sometimes you may not get all of the info until just days before. It sounds crazy, but it's perfectly normal.

Plan Your Routes

Now that you've got all the necessary info, it's time to plot your journey. Determine if you'll need rides to and from the airport, and if you're driving, map out the best routes to take. Use Google Maps or a similar tool to estimate travel times and distances between your accommodation, the airport, and the shoot location. This way, you'll avoid any last-minute scrambles and ensure a punctual arrival. Do not miss your flight and do not be late. This isn't spring break.

Keep Track of Your Expenses

As you travel to the set, it's crucial to keep a meticulous record of your expenses. This is especially important if you're anticipating reimbursement from the production company. Save all your receipts—whether for meals, transportation, or anything else you might need to spend money on. A good practice is to take photos of receipts with your phone for digital record-keeping. Most productions provide a per diem for expenses, but having an organized record can help you recover any additional costs incurred during your trip.

Know Your Schedule

Usually, you'll have a designated "travel day" where your primary task is getting from point A to point B and setting up for the following day's shoot. However, it's always a good idea to check with the production coordinator about the specific expectations for your travel day. Will you need to attend meetings, or participate in any prep work once you arrive? Knowing the answer will help you manage your energy levels and plan your time effectively.

Don’t Forget Your Gear

This might sound like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how easy it is to forget an essential piece of equipment when you're juggling so many things. Before your travel day, make a checklist of all the gear you'll need for the shoot. If you have to check any bags, keep the tags and receipts for reimbursement. Remember, hauling your gear might not be the most fun part of the job, but it’s absolutely critical to your role. Be sure you know the regulations that are part of your destination, especially if traveling internationally or flying in general. Remember, always carry-on lithium batteries. They will NOT be accepted in a checked bag.

Traveling for a shoot can be exhilarating but also challenging. The key to a successful venture lies in meticulous planning, efficient time management, and detailed record-keeping. And while the logistics might seem a little overwhelming at first, remember that every shoot is a learning experience. So keep track of those receipts, make sure your gear is in order, and above all, enjoy the ride. After all, you're getting to travel and do what you love—it doesn’t get much better than that!