There’s a reason why we show up with a cargo van of production supplies for each shoot. Call it our “bag of tricks” if you will, it’s got all of our must-haves to ensure that any production we’re running is done as efficiently as possible, and that the people involved have everything they need for a successful job. Curious what’s in our bag of tricks? Here’s a sneak peek!
Neoprene floor runners
This is one of the biggest items in our production storage locker, and they make it onto every set. Neoprene is the material that wetsuits are made out of, and the thickness provides a level of cushion to the location floor. Traditionally, people buy gator or ram board to cover the main walkways, but then you’re running a higher risk of damaging floors. Others hire Simflex to cover a house inch-by-inch. But it’s super-expensive, and it takes half a day just to set up. We did our research, and while these were a big investment up front, we can now protect the heck out of any location, move it quickly, store it easily, and it’s a greener option because we re-use it time and time again.
It used to be that photo assistants would always have to bring these. Now, we just keep two dozen of them in our bag. We use them on every stand, every chair — anything that scrapes! — to protect floors and walls. Even the most careful crew can accidently slide a stand or chair and wreck an otherwise pristine floor.
Catering & craft services supplies
We bring extra sternos — those little gel cans of fuel that you re-light under chafing dishes — because every once in a blue moon, a caterer will forget to bring those. So we’ve got either cold food, or we’re 20 minutes late on lunch because someone has to run to the store. Along those lines, we pack a sterno key, the tool specifically designed to turn those off, so no production assistants have to risk burning their hands. We’ve always got extra dishes and platters for presenting craft service, and we also have all compostable paper goods for either serving, or just in case catering doesn’t provide those. So whether we are doing a run-and-gun shoot with several company moves, or if we have three sets running in different studios, we have the tricks to keep everyone’s taste buds happy.
Along the same lines as the floor runners, this is a great home protection hack we’ve always got on hand. We use it as a base layer on counter surfaces, followed by a moving blanket on top of that, and then we lay a tablecloth on top the whole set up. Sure, the moving blanket is heavy and protects surfaces from dings, but what if something spills and seeps through the blanket? Especially if we don’t notice and it’s sitting there all day, the shower curtain will protect the surface from potential liquids. Many homeowners have high end and custom surfaces in their kitchen, and one spill can end up being quite costly.
Off! mosquito coils
These do such a good job of keeping bugs away — better than any bug spray. They protect from 30 to 50 square-feet as a mosquito repellant, and people don’t mind them as much as having to be sprayed down. These are super-handy if we’re staging or eating outside or near a garage, etc.
Obviously, bringing in our own toilet paper or bathroom spray is pretty common. But we always like to have a few more amenities, such as Kleenex hand towels (they’re much nicer than standard paper towels, and they don’t get soggy sitting on a counter), Charmin Wet Wipes (great to have on hand — just in case), and we bring in our own hand soap. For the soap, we always ask our location scout if we need to use a particular brand. If a homeowner has a specialty copper sink, traditional soaps can be too harsh and leave a stain in the basin.
Portable phone chargers
Not just iPhone chargers, but as many different versions as we can find. People are using phones constantly on set, and spare cords and portable batteries are hot commodities.
Extra catering items
Not just standards like salt and pepper, but also hot sauce, honey, Cholula sauce, sriracha sauce, and so forth. Caterers may bring some of their own hot sauce, but some of our crew may be particular. People are serious about their sriracha! We even recently had a photo assistant travel with a special homemade hot sauce to share with the crew.
A must! Our water dispenser set up was one of the first things we tackled upon going green. And now, in addition to our traditional water dispenser (like those in an office) that can dispense hot and cold water, we also have portable electric water pumps that travel the country when we don’t have the option to rent a full dispenser.
We bring three. It’s funny — people always assume that they’ll be on location, or that we don’t need them. Thankfully we’ve never had a fire on set, but if that were to happen, it’s not something you want to spend even two minutes asking where they are. So, we bring three and spread them out among stations on set.