Step 13. Getting the Gear
Almost every seminar I have taken part in or have attended, the number one question asked the most is, what kind of camera should I use to shoot my movie. Undoubtedly this is an important issue. But if you don’t have a great script, the right cast and crew, the type of camera you use will not make a difference. I only share this with you so that you get your priorities in the right order. I’ve seen too many producers and first-time filmmakers put all of their money into fancy equipment but are unwilling to bring in a second screenwriter to help with the script or hire competent crew members who know how to use the equipment.
With that said, let’s talk about the right camera package is right for you. When selecting a camera, you want a one that is easy to set up and not complicated to operate. Your Director of Photographer and camera operator should be familiar with the camera package that you choose to use. And most important you want a simplistic work flow that offers easy file transfer and conversion. The last think you want are ugly issues to pop up in post-production.
There’s no point going into detail because it seems like every month there’s a new camera on the market. However, I will give you two cameras that are widely popular. The Red Camera is all the rage today. It’s expensive to rent and hard to use, but it offers incredible images at 2K or 4K resolution. A lot of younger filmmakers prefer Canon’s 5D which is essentially a still camera or single lens reflex camera which is capable of shooting at 1080p resolution. The 5D offers one of the best dept- of-field I have seen on any camera. Your Director of Photography should be able to give you expert opinion on which camera package is appropriate for your movie.
Knowing that money is tight, where do you find the equipment at a rate you can afford? One place to start is to hire crew members who own their equipment. It’s like getting two for one. Most DPs own a camera package that will include a camera, lenses and tripod. Most grips own their own production truck that includes grips, rigging, mounting, and equipment necessary to set up and support camera and lights. The sound mixer should have his own audio equipment.
The next option is to either buy it or rent it. Sometimes it’s just cheaper to flat out buy a piece of equipment. If you decide to rent, you definitely need to know what the going rates are. Call around. Get competitive bids. Practically every major city has a production house that rents everything you would need to shoot your film. Try to make a deal by bundling your equipment rentals. If you don’t like the rates, look for alternatives. Your local universities and colleges may have a TV or film program. Chances are they will be willing to rent their gear to you at a substantially lower rate than a high-end production rental company.