The Risks of a One-Man Band for Video Crews

If you try to run with a “one-man-band” approach, you’ll likely miss critical action. Be sure to staff appropriately for your shoots.

Thanks to shrinking budgets, we are asked to send out one-person crews all the time. Believe us, we’ve tried it (after all, you can’t say you don’t like Brussels Sprouts if you’ve never eaten them). What we’ve found out is that it’s a terrible idea to shoot alone. So many things can go wrong that if you're by yourself it is impossible to get the job done.

Consider the issues a single-person crew would face:

  • Who will watch the gear if you have to unload and then park?
  • If you do have to fly somewhere for a shoot, excess baggage charges are often more than a second ticket.
  • During the course of a shoot, how will you handle basic biological needs like food and restroom breaks? Walk away and leave your gear unattended and it will likely not be in the same condition when you come back.
  • If you blow a circuit breaker or have talent go missing, the second crew person can resolve the issue.
  • With a one-person crew, if that person gets sick or injured, the shoot is over.

So even if it just means hiring a warm body that’s not going to steal from you, do so. We’ll contact local grip houses, universities, or in a pinch use Craigslist. Spend the $125 and get somebody to be a babysitter of your gear and a gopher for the many needs that arise on set.

Our standard approach is this: We try to use a three-person crew. We send two people from our office and hire one person locally. The local person will usually show up with things like lights and grip gear (which are affordable to rent locally). Our crew shows up with audio and camera equipment, which we know works and we’re familiar with.