Marking actors outdoor can be a little tough when it comes to using paper tape. It doesn’t stick well enough and on some surfaces like gravel or grass, it wouldn’t even lay flat. There are various types of ground marks that one can lay, such as sandbags, but they are often expensive and heavy. When you are traveling for work and flying, weight can cost you money. So here’s a simple, cheap solution that saves money both on the initial purchase and in the form of weight.
These ground marks are simple T-brackets that can be purchased at any hardware store. Home Depot, Lowe’s, a local store. Most of those places they shouldn’t be more expensive than five dollars for the largest brackets (about 4 x 4 inches). You can also buy them in various sizes if you are trying to go cheaper or if you just want the flexibility of different sized marks.
I bought a bunch of these when I first was building my kit and simply taped over them with paper tape. I have a seperate bag in my kit that holds them all together. I have two of each color for actors, but it’s very simple to change colors: tape over them again.
The only downside of these marks is that on concrete or gravel they can make noise if an actor accidentally steps on them or kicks them. For that scenario, a sandbag mark would be ideal. If you are using these marks exclusively, a good way to mute that metallic clang is to tape over the bracket completely with cloth tape. These marks, however, are extremely handy when it comes to marking outside. They’re quick, mobile and much more noticeable than chalk marks.
I also purchased a few brackets that were simple bars for focus marks. I use these heavily on dolly moves or for general distance marks for focus. I taped them with bright pink (the color I use for camera marks, never for actors) and keep them in my AC pouch at all times.
I’ve also gotten in the habit of handing two of them to the dolly grip to use. They usually appreciate using the bright pink marks over something less practical like pens or even a cell phone (I’ve seen it done). In fact, on one shoot, the grips got so used to it they always were waiting for me to lay the marks. Instead, just grab a couple extra and hand them to the dolly grip before the move is set. They’ll appreciate it, the DP will appreciate it, and it’ll help them nail their mark better which helps you on the focus.