There are few professional realms more high-pressure than American politics. I got my start volunteering for small campaigns across Southern Indiana shooting their small events and rallies. Those small events prepared me for the giant rallies I would go on to shoot. In this post, I'm going to explain what you will need to solo shoot a political rally, and the strategies that will give you the highest chance of success.
What kind of ad?

A political rally video is a basic form of digital content campaigns produce. While I prefer spruced-up and highly edited pieces, some campaigns (i.e. Bernie Sanders) used a single camera perched on the media risers to regularly produce digital campaign videos. While he found success this way, most candidates will need to up their production value to find success online - unless they have incredible rhetorical chops.
Plus + you can do so much more than just set up a camera and hit record! You are more talented than that. Your student loan debt is worth more than a press of a button, right? Of course, so do something interesting.
A solid political rally video incorporates a candidate's speech, rally or event b-roll, and thematic music, while providing a sense of place and staying on message. It should watch like a scene in a movie, and your candidate is the leading role.
What you Need to Know Beforehand.

Know you candidate. Understand their policies, target audiences, and any symbolism associated with the campaign. Know the stump. You must have a firm grasp on the flow of the speech your candidate will be delivering. Know the highlights and know the points that help your candidate shine. Get a copy of the stump before hand if you aren't familiar with the candidate.
Know the focus of the event/rally. Early on in a campaign, the focus is on spreading a candidate's name and policies. In the middle of a campaign it's about registering voters and building a grass roots movement. At the end, campaigns are wholly focused on getting out the vote. Additionally, sometimes an event theme is locale-specific, or addressing a very specific issue (i.e. Flint water crisis or Eastern Kentucky coal mine jobs).
If you only have one camera.

I've shot dozens of rallies handheld with a single camera. It isn't always easy, but it is always doable if you have the appropriate gear. Here are the essentials for a single camera shoot at a political rally:
Camera -  We can talk forever about what camera is best for shooting rallies, but no matter what, to me there are two qualities to look for:
(1) Low light performance. At large indoor rallies, the stage will be bright and the crowd will be dark. You need to be able to see the people to shoot pretty b-roll. Lights won't be an option when run-and-gunning. The audience will be annoyed. The speakers will be annoyed. And secret service might kill you. You won't have lights, so plan to shoot in the dark.
(2) Mobility. You need a camera you can react very quickly with. If it sits on your shoulder, it's too big to run around with effectively. Also, ditch any type of servo zooms. Get a manual zoom lens, and get really fast at snap zooming and catching focus. Speed matters if you want to catch the best moments.
Zoom Lens - A zoom lens is absolutely necessary to catch organic human reactions. When people realize they are being filmed, they react. Sometimes they temper their emotions, other times they stare directly in the camera and scream. If you want them to scream, go wide and close. If you want organic reactions, shoot tight from a distance. Additionally, a zoom lens allows for many many more angles on the speaker as you move throughout the rally, and ensures you won't have to waste time changing lenses.
Stabilization - You need to be stabilized because you will likely be moving a lot. To ensure mobility, I never use rigs, or shoulder mounts, or steady cams. I use stabilized lenses and that's it. Additional weight will slow you down and tire you out. If you can't get stable footage without help, I suggest using the smallest and lightest option you can afford. 
Lighting - You'll only need lights if you plan on conducting interviews before or after the event. You won't have time during. Even then, I tended to avoid using them by interviewing people outdoors and in-line before an event started. When by yourself, wasting time putting gear away can cost you. If you want to interview indoors with lights, I suggest a portable ICE Light and small stand that can easily slide into the side of a back pack.
Wireless lav mic or stand alone recorder - Usually you'll be able to attach a lav microphone to your candidate. But what about the other speakers? What if you need clean sound from them as well, but can't take the time to run back stage between every speaker? Capturing sound at a rally is simple when you have a lot of time to setup and unlimited gear at your disposal. In politics though, that is rarely the case (Television ad shoots being the exception). So what if laving isn't possible, or you need to capture multiple speakers? With only one camera, having to direct line into the mixer (when there is one) means you would likely be forced to shoot from a single spot on a tripod. Cords suck, and campaigns are usually unwilling to spend money on expensive wireless gear. My solutions for political rally audio capturing are simple:
(1) Lav the microphone or podium the candidate will be speaking into. I had excellent results using this technique. As long as they are speaking into the microphone, you'll pick up good-enough sound. Wrap your lav mic around the podium's mic and clip it to itself. Occasionally a speaker will tap on the podium which can create pops in the audio, but no one person ever did this enough to wreck an entire speech. If this is your plan and you expect to encounter secret service between the floor and the stage, plan accordingly. Ensure they expect you and anticipate using a different technique.

(2) Mic up the speaker system. Sometimes you won't have access to the stage before an event. This usually happens when you are a part of a convoy moving from rally to rally on a tight schedule in a single day. Strategically place your wireless lav or stand-alone recorder near a speaker. It won't sound perfect, and you are completely at the mercy of whoever is running sound, but you will be able to capture the speeches in a consistent way. Additionally, setting the microphone close to the speaker system and adjusting your audio levels down accordingly will temper crowd noise significantly, allowing for cleaner-than-expected sound. 

(3) Direct line into the sound board with an external recorder. This is an all-or-nothing technique. Faith in a sound guy you've never met is always a questionable move, but hey, usually this will work out. One time a sound guy told me all he needed was a USB drive and he could record the audio straight to it. Long story short, it did not work. Luckily, I also had my lav wrapped around the podium mic and had no problems with audio in post.

(4) No XLR inputs. I always roll with a Sony FS100, which has 2 XLR inputs. One time however, my native lens and adapter went down at the same time. I ended up using the FS100 to line in audio, and borrowed the photographers extra 5d. If the FS100 was down completely, I would have been forced to combine the 5d, an external recorder, and a wireless lav into a Frankenstein monstrosity. If you have absolutely no microphone options, use a smartphone's record audio function. Sit the phone on the podium, or if the candidate is wearing a sport coat, in a chest pocket.
More Than One Camera.

Having more than one camera allows for more creativity, more control, and less stress. Set a camera with long zoom up in the press area. If your event is too small to have a press area, find a nice straight-on shot of the candidate. Use this camera to record audio. I know what you're thinking -- If I record audio on a stationary camera, I won't be able to listen to it while it records. Great point! My reasoning is based in experience though.When roaming, I've stumbled with my camera. I've accidentally stopped recording. I've been ran into and had my lav receiver knocked off. I've stepped out of range of the transmitter. I've had every problem you can imagine. Bottomline is, for me, you want to use a stationary camera to record clean audio.
Use your second camera to roam the event, snagging b-roll. Never stop recording. This will make syncing easy and will encourage you to keep shooting. Use additional cameras to capture alternative angles on the speaker.
What to Shoot and When

When you first arrive, shoot exteriors and b-roll. Useful b-roll shots include balloons, signs, long lines, campaign literature being passed out, and anything that sets the scene. This is also an excellent time to grab interviews with people, and scope out angles from where you can shoot the podium.
Before your candidate begins to speak, there will usually be other speakers. During their speeches, spend your time filming reaction shots of the crowd. Don't just turn to them when they are clapping, but sit on someone you've noticed and wait for them to clap. This will give you leeway in editing later on.
During the candidate's speech, never stop recording, but be strategic in how you shoot. Know the key elements of the stump speech you want to highlight and know what parts of the speech that will get the best reaction.
Don't be afraid to move a lot. You'll be able to tell by the tone of the speaker's voice if you need to stop and point your camera at the stage. If they are telling anecdotes, find a new angle. If they are making declarative statements about why they are the best candidate, stay put and film the candidate.
So that's what I got for you. Good luck. Make something beautiful.
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