Any person working in production knows that working with celebrity talent can bring a host of challenges to a shoot. More often than not you’re dealing with restricted schedules, unique demands and sponsorship deals that need to be considered incredibly carefully. It takes a heck of a lot of pre-planning to make sure shoots run smoothly.
PSN tap into their worldwide network to explore what you need to be prepared for and what skills and tips are unique to shoot locations around the world. This week, they speak to PSN USA East & West. Based in LA, the home of celebrities, EP Eric Brown explores the do’s and don’ts of shooting the rich and famous.
Q> When shooting with high profile talent, what are the biggest challenges?
PSN USA> The biggest challenges when shooting with a celebrity are pinning down the last-minute details, working on a tight timeframe and keeping all of the stakeholders calm. With fast paced schedules that are ever-changing, most celebrities don’t seem to commit to timings until the last minute, making it harder for production to schedule the shoot day. Most of the time, we only have four hours or so to shoot everything so cramming in the creative and figuring out where to compromise are always some of the hardest steps. Clients and their agencies are always nervous about impressing the celebrity and their team while also trying to complete the creative AND get them out on time. The divergent needs are best managed with communication.
Q> What in particular do you have to be prepared for when working with celebrity talent?
PSN USA> When working with a celebrity, we have to be prepared for anything. Last minute schedule changes, security needs and catering requests can challenge production in unexpected ways. With experience and a good attitude, just about any request can be met with a solution that’s satisfactory to all parties.
Q> What do you think are the most common mistakes/assumptions made by foreign producers on shoots with celebrities in your country?
PSN USA> The most common mistakes I’ve seen in shooting with a celebrity is having unrealistic creative for the timeframe we’re given. Unless the celebrity is willing to work longer than the usual four hours, its best to come up with ideas that can be executed within the parameters set forth. Shooting in Los Angeles, we’re sometimes confronted with geographic challenges because the city is so large and spread out. Getting from Downtown to the Beach for a sunset shot could mean sitting in traffic for an hour. In that case, we have to be very smart about scheduling but also realistic in our approach to the day and the creative.
Another common mistake is assuming that the creative is signed off. I’ve been in situations where the creative is scouted and set but the celebrity doesn’t like something about the script, the wardrobe, the location, etc and nobody had run it by them ahead of time. In that case, we have to scramble to come up with a solution in time.
Q> How do you deal with clients nervous about celebrity time constraints ?
PSN USA> When clients are nervous about the celebrity’s time constraints, we do our best to schedule in great detail so that the client’s nerves are put at ease. By dialing in all of the details such as the rider, the catering, the dressing room, etc, clients understand that they’ve hired professionals who know exactly what they’re doing to make the day a success.
Q> Naming no names, what is the most grandiose request you have had from a celebrity?
PSN USA> We’ve been very lucky on our shoots not to have celebrities with requests that were too far out of the realm of normal. Without naming names, we did have to hire a member of the celebrity’s entourage to roll joints. Luckily the shoot was in Los Angeles where that is perfectly legal.
Q> What shoot was a highlight for you when working with a celebrity talent and why?
PSN USA> Shooting in Miami with LeBron James
as he prepared for his return season in Cleveland was a real highlight for me. In my opinion, he is the greatest basketball player to ever live and we got to see up close and personal what his preparations were like. It was very motivating to see someone who is clearly the best at what they do work so hard to do more.
Q> Which type of celebrities are hardest to pin down time-wise?
PSN USA> Musicians are notoriously difficult to pin down time-wise. Its best to prepare for them to be late and have a backup plan in place for this likely occurrence.
Q> Do you or your country have any special features which make it easy to work with celebrity talent?
PSN USA> Being that we’re in Hollywood, working with celebrities is very easy. We have the best motorhomes, soundstage are well equipped, vanities are top notch and there is amazing food to keep everyone happy.
Q> Which internationally recognised celebrities have you worked with in your country?