Run and gun in newsgathering is a get-the-shot-as-it-happens environment. Other than planning the time and the location, the rest is spontaneous. It works for sports, breaking news, and documentaries. It can work for you if you plan ahead.
In a corporate, educational, or nonprofit environment, run and gun can add a flexible and nimble approach and still retain pre-screened locations, scripted talent, and controlled lighting and sound. What you gain is a streamlined post-production process that adds additional marketing assets.
A run and gun producer/videographer
- Has camera, lights, and audio in a self-contained 1-person package or sometimes with an assistant.
- Less gear to set up and move, more shots or locations can be included in a day
- Fewer people on set, a huge plus for nervous talent. Even the best and most experienced public speakers struggle on set with a typical crew.
- A refined system for backup in the event of equipment failure.
Where run and gun projects go astray
- Run and gun requires planning; the client and the producer need a clear vision before beginning the day’s shoot.
- Run and gun doesn’t make up for a bad concept or message. If you don’t know your focus, it won’t just happen on set.
- Run and gun is best done by experienced producer/videographers. Run and gun isn’t the environment to learn the craft.
- Run and gun doesn’t save money, but it does add value.
The added value of run and gun productions
When I produced humanitarian documentaries, I shot exclusively run and gun. Being in a foreign country, often traveling on a tourist visa, I wanted to draw as little attention to myself as possible. I carried a tripod in India, only to be denied access to the Taj Mahal without paying a significant fee. That did result in images I never would have captured otherwise. But the other reason was to be less distracting to my story subjects and to keep my hosts comfortable while speaking on camera. I have seen doctors, politicians, and CEOs, all of whom were outstanding public speakers, stumble, mumble and self-correct when in front of a large production team.
As a run and gun producer, I can identify opportunities for mixed media — being able to capture, audio, magazine-quality print images, and video. This gives the marketing team more options for print, social media, and promotional materials. Run and gun gives you an option, but not a full-time solution. Being in a studio environment controlling for light, ambient sound, and camera position will always create a solid and technically strong video. But for certain projects, run and gun should be in every playbook.