Video and Digital Producer’s Guide to Shooting in Phoenix, AZ
Everything you ever wanted to know about shooting video in Phoenix.
Jacob Satterfield – Cameraman – Phoenix, Arizona – Go To Team
Prior to arriving in a new city, every producer needs the lay of the land. This guide explores everything about Phoenix, AZ that producers need to know.
Nicknames: Valley of the Sun, Silicon Desert
Industries: Technology, Tourism
Named after the mythological bird the Phoenix who is reborn from the ashes, Phoenix was founded as a city born from nothing. The desert city was originally thought to be unable to be settled in, but canals made it possible to farm and herd cattle. From there, Phoenix has grown into a thriving city with almost 4.7 million people living in the metro area and more moving there every year.
Phoenix is a unique city where the population changes depending on the time of year. During the winter, “snowbirds” migrate from colder climates to the warm climes of Phoenix. Traffic can even get worse during these months.
If the great outdoors are something you might be interested in, the surrounding mountains outside Phoenix are a great place to hike! Phoenicians take any opportunity to get out of downtown and head to the areas surrounding Scottsdale to hike, where temperatures can be up to 20 degrees cooler. When every day can be in the hundreds, that can mean a big difference. While you’re out hiking, be sure to bring a camera to capture a famous desert sunset picture with a Saguaro cactus.
If you are a follower of football, be prepared to meet some enthusiastic fans. The Arizona Cardinals have a die-hard following and people love to talk about, in their opinion, the best team in the NFL.
Phoenix also offers many opportunities for higher education at Phoenix College, Arizona State University, and Grand Canyon University.
Once you’ve decided to shoot in Phoenix there’s plenty you should know:
Where to Stay
If you plan on staying near the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, hotel options are cheap and plenty. You have Best Western, the Days Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, and many others. No matter your budget there’s an option for you. If you want to be located downtown, there are options for any price range and comfort level. Some of the nicer hotels include FOUND:RE Phoenix, Hotel Palomar, and the Sheraton Grand Phoenix. Most have airport shuttles and access to pools, gyms, and hotel bars or restaurants. More affordable options downtown are the Hotel San Carlos, Holiday Inn and Suites, or the Hilton Garden Inn. Given the heat, we’d recommend any hotel with a pool.
Locations and Drive Times
The main neighborhoods and towns surrounding downtown Phoenix are Tempe, Scottsdale, Arcadia, Glendale, Tolleson, Mesa, Central Phoenix, Chandler, Paradise Valley, and Roosevelt Row. As with most cities, each has its own personality so it’s recommended you do some research on what area best fits your needs. Many of these neighborhoods require a car to get to and from downtown still since transportation outside downtown is difficult to come by.
Phoenix traffic is not as bad as some other major cities like New York or D.C., but that doesn’t mean you won’t get caught in a slow-up driving during rush hour. If you have a car, try to avoid driving during rush hours or plan to leave a little earlier than normal to get to your location on time. One alternative option for transportation is the Metro Light-Rail, with 35 stations crossing Phoenix. It isn’t the most versatile transportation since the stops mostly lie on a straight line across the city, but for $2 a ride or $4 for a day pass, the light-rail could be an affordable option. Trains come every 10-20 minutes. If you do plan on driving instead of taking the light-rail, be sure not to drive down the tracks for the light-rail by mistake! If you need easy access to the airport, there is also an option to get to it with the Phoenix Sky Train. Passengers waiting at the 44th Street/ Washington Street station can grab the Sky Train for the same price as the light-rail. Phoenix also offers transportation by bus, with more variety of stops around the city. Some areas of the city might be unreachable by bus or train, so your best option might be to take an Uber.
Phoenix is a desert city so be prepared for heat! In the summers, the dry heat can get so bad that there are many days where the temperature can rise to up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat is dry with little humidity so it is slightly more bearable than the heat some seaside cities get. Winters in Phoenix can be quite nice since they’re mild, and average around 67 degrees even in the coldest months. If you’re not a fan of snow, this is the city for you! For the current weather forecast in Phoenix, click HERE.
Crews across the country have a set of guidelines by which they conduct business. And as different as each city is from another, so are those guidelines. Every producer should have a basic understanding of each city’s standards. Shoots in Phoenix are based on a ten hour day and the crew is on the clock at the specified crew call. Overtime at a rate of time and a half begins after ten hours. If your shoot takes the crew to a distant location, travel time can be expected. A distant location is any location outside a circle with a 30-mile radius drawn around the city. But all of these are just guidelines; certainly, verify with your crew their specific policies.
Chamber of Commerce / Visitors Bureau
If you have any other questions about Phoenix that we haven’t answered, you can contact the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce or Visitor’s website below.
Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
201 N. Central Ave., 27th Floor
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Phoenix Visitor Information Center
125 N 2nd St #120
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Booking the Right Crew
But even with the perfect location, the best-laid plans, and great weather, so much depends on the right crew. Booking the right crew means finding a crew that not only gets the job done, but does whatever it takes to ensure you have the best shoot. Are you conducting a series of interviews that require dramatic lighting? Are you going to be “run and gun” around the city? Is your shoot going to require any specific equipment? Finding a crew that can handle every one of your needs is just as important as lining up all of the interviews and creating your shot list.
For more information on booking your video crew, reference: “Everything you ever wanted to know about booking a video crew.”
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