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1st AC Advice: Shooting on the Beach

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I am the 1st AC on a short film that's coming up and I was wondering if anyone has some advice when it comes to shooting on beach locations?

We are using a combination of film and digital. Cameras include Arri Alexa, Arricam LT, and Arriflex 235.


I believe we are using just film while on the beach and it looks like it's going to be mostly handheld at this time.



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I would just caution you to be careful about the proximity of the camera to the elements, obviously. On one of my shorts, I was shooting on the beach and my Arriflex fell in the sand. It was easily repaired, but the day was of course a wash (no pun intended.)


You may want to get a cover for the camera in case it winds up being a particularly windy day. If you are using a film camera, I would tape up just about any opening where sand could find its way in just to be on the safe side. Cover the lenses when you are not shooting and change mags off the beach.

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Beaches are always a complicated subject when it comes to talk about shooting on them.


With film you will have to have your loader out of the beach and the sand.

If you have a camera truck, unload and load the mags in the camera truck and bring them to the beach always with the case.

If you don't have a camera truck, then make production set up a place out of the beach where the loader can work comfortably and with no dangerous elements around.


Check the gate through the lens, the less you have to take out the lens, the better.


While changing mags off the beach would be something fantastic, sometimes it is not practical because of the length of the beach, times, light, etc.

If you have to change mags on the beach, make sure that the camera is covered while changing them, clean the pins very well and also the loop / metal thread.
Make sure you run a test with the "test" or the "phase" button to see that everything is working properly before saying "ok".


Don't leave anything open as sand enters through the smallest holes.


Bring to the beach just the essential things.


It would be interesting to bring a Clear / Flat filter just in case it gets super windy and you need to shoot, that way you will cover the front of the lens from possible impacts.


if for some reason your camera falls to the water and the film stock with it, get a big bucket with normal water and put everything there, sea water is the worst thing that can happen to anything and by placing the camera in normal water you will make sure that salt will be cleaned. Take the mag out and send it like that to the lab as soon as possible (as well as the camera to the rental place of course! :))


On digital, all of the above mentioned still apply, however you won't have to take mags out and you won't have to thread the camera (which is something really good)

Make sure your loader, again, leaves his / her loading station off the sand.


For the cameras themselves, get a tripod and when the camera is not being used, put it on the tripod.


On top of that, get sun cream often, drink water often and enjoy a great day!


Have a good one!



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I would also recommend to production, who will likely already know this but just in case, to make sure you have beach ready carts. Where the wheels are like giant balloon style tires.


It's going to make the loading much, much easier on everyone. That is, if it's a super long walk from the lot to the actual shooting location which it often can be.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi there,


I once shot a music video on Europe's largest sand dune. It took an entire week... We had 45 mph winds and storms.


Optical flat filter and a rain cover for the camera.

Change mags off the beach, and lenses without facing the wind or the sea.

As Michael said, the wheels of the camera cart can be supersized, if possible (I think they're simply called "Sand Wheels").

Production may lay down mesh wire on the ground in certain areas to allow cars and regular carts to be wheeled around.

If there is wind, make sure that the tents or trucks entrances are against it, so the sand doesn't get in.

Ask the grips to bring "wind breakers", they look like California Sunbounce reflectors but have a pattern that reduces wind (especially if you have steadicam).


As you see, lots of measures against wind because in my experience wind+sand is a death combo.

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All Great tips! Thx!


I am an AC based in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.


Here eventually we end up filming in the beach. I believe that what has not been said is !! Cover your camera from the bottom !!


In my experience when going handheld, the Operator holding it from the handle, looking for that cool low angle look, the camera gets dangerously close to water and sand. All you need is that tiny whiplash and water/sand gets everywhere, it can get pretty dirty.


I usually use a deuter raincover for backpacks, it basicly works as a big shower cap.


My two cents!

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  • 4 weeks later...
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All good advice above but I would add make sure that if you're pulling remotely that you have some type of full hood for your monitor. The sun will bounce off the sand if you just try to drape something over you.

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