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How to Capture Behind-the-Scenes Content Like a Pro

Promoting your Film and Photography Work with BTS

From bonus materials in old DVDs to sneak peaks of film sets in social media videos, Hollywood filmmakers have long leveraged the power of behind-the-scenes content.

Some filmmakers, like Chris Varner in Wilmington, North Carolina, have built entire careers focused on capturing making-of films for large-scale Hollywood film and television productions.

“People want to see you working. They want to get to know you before they invest in you,” he says. “A well-shot, well-constructed EPK (Electronic Press Kit) package can be invaluable.”

And as Varner knows, behind-the-scenes (BTS) content is an essential tool for professionals looking to grow and market everything from their photography business to their next film.

“The key is to know how to have minimal impact while getting maximum access,” he says, a mindset learned from over 20 years of filming on studio lots. “And I truly believe that anyone with a Z9 and a 24-70mm f/2.8 is well equipped to film behind-the-scenes.”

Features like Illuminated Buttons, Hi-Res Zoom, and Built-in GPS Location Data on the Z9 make it a versatile tool for capturing 8K video in a lightweight and compact form factor.

Photo of Chris Varner with a camera, taken by Nick Cocuzza

Chris Varner has built a career around BTS or Behind the Scenes footage captured on film sets.

—photo by Nick Cocuzza

“The 24-70mm is well equipped,” says Varner. “It’s a f/2.8, so it’s fast enough to cover low light work and the 70 gives you a tight enough shot with a defocused background.”

Capturing the process and craft of filmmaking and photography is a simple yet powerful marketing strategy. It adds credibility to a range of businesses and creative projects.

“If you invest in capturing BTS content, you have weeks, if not months of promotional assets,” says Varner. And with the right guidance and knowledge, it’s something that anyone can do.

5 Tips for Using the Z9 to Capture Behind-the-Scenes Videos

  • Stabilize handheld shots by enabling VR (Vibration Reduction) Sport mode
  • Shoot low-light footage with High ISO NR (Noise Reduction)
  • Record in ProRes RAW and N-Log for larger productions with dedicated editors
  • Or for quick and easy editing, capture H.264 and H.265 with a Portrait Picture Control
  • And keep your cast and crew in focus by setting your autofocus mode to AF-C, area mode to Auto-area AF, and Select a Subject Type from People, Animal or Vehicle

“Capture the hustle and bustle,” Varner says. “Include the camera in the shot. Get shots of the gears on the lens moving. Really focus in on when the actors are on set.”

“You almost can’t shoot too much,” he says. “Film it like it’s lightning in a bottle.”

Learn more about Chris and the work he's done at his website:

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