Kits and Crews: A First-time Filmmaker’s GuideMarc Ehrenbold
You already have the script, or perhaps a screenwriter gave you one. You have a cast with whom you have a day (or several) to shoot the project with. Your budget is just enough to fund you through your first film project. Yes, planning and providing for the appropriate resources for your indie effort can really test your mettle.
As a trusted provider of London filming equipment rentals, we at Aimimage have picked up nuggets of wisdom here and there we can impart to budding filmmakers such as yourself.
Let’s get the ball rolling with equipment costs, which a good chunk of your budget will absolutely go to. And the fact that there’s a sea of filming equipment out there is not going to make the task any easier. It is also equally important that you do this right the first time – do it wrong and see your budget and project go down the proverbial drain.
This little guide talks about 3 levels of crew and equipment that you need to know about. We start with a typical fueled-by-hopes-and-dreams, no budget project until we get to what we can call a professional indie shoot.
We thought it would be better to leave out figures on production costs, which should be included in your budget anyway. Salaries of the cast and film crew is also M.I.A. Sure, many independent film projects baby stepped up that path, but you need to be paying people if you want to make it. Remember, you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
First Level – When there’s barely enough money
Your Visuals Kit
- Get a good, mid-range DSLR that can shoot 1080p with sensors that go up to 6400 ISO. Inexpensive and works well as a stills camera. A good example would be a Canon EOS 7D Mark II.
- Get several Class 10 (or higher) SD cards with at least 16 GB storage capacity. A better option would external hard drives you can connect your camera to.
- Use prime lens. If you need to zoom in, move closer. Your best bet is a 50mm, it can more or less view what the human eye can, so it will do the job for a lot of the shots.
- Steady your shots with a tripod or monopod.
- For your first lighting kit, a few house lamps would suffice. Your bounce boards can just be wooden or plastic frames with a white, opaque surface stretched across.
Your Sound Equipment
One of the most crucial aspects of filmmaking is knowing how to best capture sound
- Get a directional microphone, or a shotgun mic as it is called. It’s a deal breaker, so learn how to use it correctly.
- You also need additional microphone equipment such as XLR cables. DSLR cameras are not compatible with XLR cables, so you will need a mini-jack.
- Dollies. Yes, they’re a bit pricey, even if you rent one. This an indispensable equipment for filmmaking that will make your film look professional and smooth. Grab a bicycle or a skateboard, anything with wheels that can roll through a nice and flat surface.
- An all-in-one director, cameraman, and director of photography will definitely keep costs down. No arguments about artistic vision, no debates on what needs to be done or not.
- It’s normal for a low-budget indie effort to get a director who can also be a producer.
- Sound, general handyman, lighting – as members of the film crew, these guys work as your runner, back up cameraman, boom mic operator, gaffer, script supervisor, and anything in between.
- It was implied earlier that you need to keep the number of people down to a bare minimum – actors included. For your fist indie film, write or pick a script with shorter stories.
On the second installment of this 3-part series, let’s check out what a newbie filmmaker would ideally have if he did have some money to burn on his first indie film.