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Safety First: The Unseen Risks of Filmmaking

18 October 2023
Published on November 26, 2018 by Vanilla Bear Films under the Unsplash License
Published on November 26, 2018 by Vanilla Bear Films under the Unsplash License

As I embark on my journey through the MA programme in International Journalism at Cardiff University, the allure of filmmaking assignments beckons. These practical tasks are not just about capturing stories; they’re about immersing oneself in the art of storytelling. However, beneath the surface of creativity lies an aspect often eclipsed by the glamour of filmmaking—safety. In this blog, I’ll delve into the often-overlooked safety concerns in filmmaking and explore how diligent preparation is the key to a seamless cinematic experience.

  1. Risk Assessment: Navigating the Unknown

Before the camera starts rolling, a meticulous risk assessment is paramount. The teachers provide invaluable guidance—detailing potential risks, engaging in discussions with mentors, and choosing to shoot alongside colleagues. But what about shooting in dynamic, unpredictable public spaces? Picture a bustling city square, teeming with life. While it promises compelling visuals, it also presents an array of safety challenges. This is where risk assessment goes beyond paperwork; it’s about adapting to the unexpected.

  1. Do’s and Don’ts: A Filmmaker’s Safety Code

The do’s and don’ts of filmmaking safety are akin to the unspoken rules of an intricate dance. Collaborating with colleagues is not just a suggestion; it’s a strategy to enhance both creativity and safety. Think of it as a pas de deux, where the partners watch out for each other’s steps. Conversely, don’t be a hazard to others. It’s not just a safety measure; it’s an ethical imperative. These guidelines are not shackles but rather the rhythm that keeps the dance of filmmaking flowing seamlessly.

Published on August 30, 2020 by Joppe Spaa under the Unsplash License
  1. Where to Film: Navigating Legal and Ethical Boundaries

The canvas for our visual storytelling is vast, but not every inch is free for our artistic strokes. While outdoor locations offer an expansive backdrop, the legal and ethical boundaries become more pronounced. Public spaces might seem fair game, but they too have their intricacies. Consider the urban park—a sanctuary for both nature and privacy. Navigating these boundaries requires a keen understanding of legal nuances and a respectful acknowledgment of the spaces we choose to capture.

  1. Dealing with Challenges: When Things Go South

Filmmaking is not just about capturing the planned scenes; it’s about adapting to the unexpected twists. Encounters with irate individuals or unforeseen hurdles are part of the script. Yet, responding to these challenges is an art in itself. Ceasing filming and avoiding confrontation, as advised by teachers, is the initial refrain. However, think of it as an improvised scene; the real challenge lies in knowing when to gracefully exit, leaving room for a future take.

Lights Out on Ignored Dangers

In the vast canvas of creativity, it’s easy to be enchanted by the allure of visual storytelling and overlook the safety risks that lurk in the shadows. This blog, an exploration of risk assessment, a filmmaker’s safety code, suitable shooting locations, and strategies for handling challenges, serves as a call to arms for every storyteller. As we navigate the path of creativity, let’s not only illuminate the scenes we capture but also shine a light on the often-ignored dangers, ensuring that the lights stay on for many storytelling adventures to come.

And, as the lens of our narrative zooms out, stay tuned for my next blog. It will delve deeper into the practical and legal aspects of where we can film, providing a comprehensive guide for fellow storytellers. Because in this journey of visual storytelling, understanding the nuances of our chosen locations is not just a technicality; it’s a passport to unlock new dimensions of creativity.