One of the most frequent questions I get asked about my job is “but how do you cope with filming in such extreme heat?” Well, it’s never easy, and sometimes (like one memorable day last summer) it can be downright horrid, but it’s not actually as crazy as many people think.

- Eve Hester Wyne

For one thing, we’re only talking about “extreme heat” in the three summer months- June, July and August. May and September can be a bit uncomfortable, depending on weather fluctuations, but October through to April are lovely months for filming. You might even have to wear a jacket or jumper around January time, which comes as a surprise to many people who arrive here expecting the country to be baked all year round!

People do ask me for advice when it comes to filming in the heat- and my first piece of advice is: well, schedule your shoot between October and April. Now I know this isn’t always possible, but every year I am amazed at how many crews end up having to shoot outdoors in the 49 degree (Celsius) Dubai summer, because of delays or a lack of organization earlier in the production process. Or maybe because someone simply forgot to look at the calendar.

Okay, so it’s just one of those things, and you’ve got to take a deep breath and film outside during the summer. Here are a few hints from someone who’s been there and bought the t-shirt (and then binned the t-shirt because it was so sweaty).

  • DO drink lots and lots (and lots) of water. If you don’t, you’ll dehydrate very fast and that will only make everything worse.
  • DO make sure everyone on your crew is drinking enough water too. Cameramen are notorious for not getting enough water.
  • On the other hand, if you like to unwind after a day’s filming with a few bevvies, do try to keep THAT sort of drinking to a minimum if you’re going to be outside the following day. You’ll be dehydrated enough!
  • Weirdly, I’ve discovered (by accident) that avoiding carbohydrates if I’m on a long shoot is very helpful to staying that little bit cooler. Eat protein and salad rather than stodgy sandwiches. It really works, especially over the course of a few days.
  • Make sure everyone on your crew wears a hat. Obviously sunglasses. And the highest-factor sunscreen you can get. Though…
  • Nothing beats the sun like covering up. You may think you’ll be too hot, but long, loose trousers and a loose shirt (in light colours) are much more effective at protecting you from the sun than any cream. Take a look at the traditional dress of desert people. You won’t see any wife-beater vests or hotpants there.
  • Make sure there’s an air-conditioned refuge nearby (even a car) where people can rest, and take VERY regular 15-minute breaks.
  • Finally, do remember, it’s hard to film in the heat. Don’t expect that you’ll get as many shots in the can as you would on a temperate day. Be realistic about your expectations.

Happy filming!