Recently, I was talking with a friend about what I’d need to make a short film. I was whining that I didn’t have enough time or money to make any of the short films I had in mind.
To cut it short- I was making excuses.
After discussing this, and promptly being told to get my butt into gear, I realised that to make a short film, or any film at all, the first thing you need is the drive to do it, and once you have that, you need the equipment to help you materialise your imagination.
1. A Movie Camera
The key here is: Basic. Basic. Basic.
Forget about the RED ONE or BLACK MAGIC (unless your budget is £25,000 upwards)
Indie filmmakers sometimes forget that the whole point of making a film isn’t about spending top dollar on equipment, or necessarily making the film look expensive (but this is a very easy thing to do). It’s just about telling the story, and especially for first-timers, the last thing you should be worrying about is the way it looks compared to the latest flick at the cinema.
Cameras to consider in order of budget, low to high:
1. The Canon Powershot Series
Simple point and shoot cameras with great recording capability. In fact, the 2010 documentary CATFISH was partly filmed using the Canon PowerShot TX1 which you can pick up for around £250 – £300 maximum.
2. DSLRs: NikonD90 or Canon 550/600D
A little more on the pricey side, but fantastic and versatile cameras that have the wide range of capabilities, and potential for real cinematic looking stuff.
3. Panasonic HVX200
The most expensive one I’d ever consider at around £1,200, and looks the most professional. Ideal for low-budget filming as its relatively small and lightweight and records great HD footage.
2. A Sound Recorder/Microphone
Often cameras will have their own in-built sound recorder, and while a lot of the time this will suffice, sometimes a separate recorder is what will really polish the overall production of your film. There are two affordable sound recorders out on the market which I have tried and tested and would recommend for any filmmaker on a budget:
With particular mention to the H1, Zoom’s smallest recorder, ever, this makes for super handy film equipment. It gives great quality sound, stereo recording and really really easy-to-use functions. You can’t really go wrong with one of these.
And for reliable microphones with a range of difference prices to fit your budget, check out the Sennheiser G3 series.
3. Slider/Glidecam Equipment
The biggest giveaway of an low-budget film often are the little shakes and ‘guerrilla’ style movements, and unless this is the look you are going for, investing in a slider or glidecam will eliminate this and give your film a professional, neat and expensive look.
A slider and glidecam are very similar, so it wouldn’t be necessary to get both. The glidecam can do everything the slider can and then some, however the slider is appealing for its ability to go smoothly back on forth on the same track.
Purchasing a used/new slider or glidecam would cost anywhere between £150 – £300.
This nifty piece of equipment will not only make your film look professional, but it will also make you look somewhat professional while you use it. It’s not a necessity with every film of course, however it is good practice in terms of expanding your cinematic technique and artistry.
5. Willing and supportive friends and family
In other words, your crew.
It is possible to make a film on your own, but it will take double the time, and cause double the stress, potentially leaving you with an unfinished film and a disheartened ego. Gather your friends, pull in your family, and get together and make a movie!
Likelihood is, you’ll have a group of friends interested in films and film making who are wanting to start making awesome movies, just like you are. Collaborate!
So that’s it, the only five things you need to make your first movie.
But just remember, at the end of it all, to quote a friend of mine…”We’re FILMMAKERS DARLING.”
All we really need when it comes down to it, is a camera, a plan of action.