Be prepared - better self shooting

Boy Scouts and Girl Guides make the best self shooters, according to BBC Academy trainer Ian Hider. We find out why.

I spend most of my time as a television trainer helping people out with self shooting. My best advice to any self shooter is to adopt the motto of the Scouts - "be prepared". The job will always be difficult but you can avoid trouble by planning and good house keeping. If everything is working properly and you have a plan you are free to focus on being creative.

Check your kit
We've all got stories of people who've forgotten to take kit on shoots. My favourite is the two man crew that turned up on location for a Saturday morning shoot each expecting the other to bring the kit.

It's dull and boring and probably the last thing you want to do the night before a shoot, but complete 'pre flight' checks will save time, money and embarrassment. It's called being professional. And it doesn't just mean opening the camera bag and peering in - a complete check means putting the equipment together, doing a test recording, playing it back and checking it.

Learn your trade
TV is all about telling stories, and just as good writing involves good sentence structure, good telly involves good shot structure. You need to learn the rules and guidelines so you can enhance your story telling.

None of it's rocket science. Crossing the line is one of those phrases that worries self shooters, but it's easily explained. It's a rule that's often misunderstood, and when it's broken it can distract an audience and prevent them from following your story.

Fail to plan, plan to fail
I've never been on a shoot that has gone exactly to plan, but it's important to have a plan in the first place. With a plan you can adapt, evolve and improve your material. Without a plan you waste valuable filming time trying to work out what to do instead of being creative. I always turn up on location with a mental picture of the shots I want to film. Then before I start filming a quick recce helps me to compose myself and fine tune my plan.

"I turn up on location with a mental picture of the shots I want." – Ian Hider

Know your story
I used to work as a news cameraman. When I was given a story I always had two questions: 'How much on screen footage do you need?' and 'What's the story?'

There is no point going out and shooting aimlessly. I call this spraying and praying, and it results in lots of irrelevant rushes. Your editor and series producer won't thank you for this. Your shots must tell the story. Fantastic images of a building will hit the cutting room floor if your item's about disabled access but you've forgotten to film steps, ramps and signs.

Self shooting is hard work, so don't be lazy. It is a fantastically creative and rewarding experience, the more you put into it the more you will get out of it and the better your results.