The snow must go on.Certain climates can be really challenging to shoot a movie in. While many films are shot in warmer climates, some live in areas where below-freezing temps are part of the norm... I am one of them. As a lifelong resident of Michigan USA, I know first hand that filming in the snow is a totally different beast. Honestly, just living in a climate strangely similar to a walk-in freezer is a different beast (winter driving anyone?), but film production has a funny way of really taking those snowy struggles to the next level. Here are a few things I've observed about cold-climate filming that make it different from all other seasons in film:
#1 - Everything Slows DownPeople, cameras, vehicles... everything. So it’s best to just plan on everything taking longer than you’d like. Build padding into your shooting schedule and maintain a secondary schedule of things you can shoot indoors if the outdoors is not cooperating.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it: outsmart the weather and keep moving forward no matter what.
#2 - Not Everyone Comes PreparedPreparation is everything when it comes to working in winter weather, but sometimes we forget how harsh the cold is until we’re freezing on set.
- Clothing is your first line of defense Cold weather is A LOT more manageable if you’re dressed appropriately. Wear long underwear, dress in layers (you might actually get hot if you’re doing heavy work), and invest in proper snow clothes! (it’s funny how those high prices at The North Face seem more reasonable when you’re shivering next to a camera amidst blowing snow, in the middle of the night.)
- Knowledge is power Put together a cold weather survival packet for your cast & crew and send it to them before they show up on set. If they have never lived or worked in a cold climate before they may not know how best to prepare. Include things like types of clothing, recommendations for hand and foot warmers, & tips for winter driving.
- Don’t forget about your extras Extras can be an afterthought, but on a winter set that normal lack of consideration can become a miserable, possibly dangerous, situation. Make sure that they are dressed appropriately, have warming stations available, and possibly provide a hot beverage to help them stay warm.
- Nobody is less prepared than your camera Technology and extreme weather don’t exactly go hand in hand. It’s essential that you protect your camera gear from the elements and monitor its performance while working in the cold. One of the simplest ways to protect your camera is with a plastic bag/cover, but you can also purchase more specialized protective gear. Also, never expose your camera to any big temperature changes. Start acclimating your camera to the cold before you need to start shooting, and then warm it back up slowly when you’re finished. Any significant temperature shifts can cause condensation inside your camera, and we all know moisture and technology do not go hand in hand.If you do happen to deep freeze your camera, check out this video on how to defrost it properly.
Pro-Tip) Carry extra batteries, you’ll burn through them more quickly in the cold. Be sure to keep your spares in your pocket so that they’ll stay warm.