With rare exceptions, you will not be able to make your film on your own, you will need a team of competent and motivated people by your side to bring your ideas to life, to create the images you have imagined. But even the best film crew won’t guarantee you a successful movie if you don’t have the right equipment. You can shoot with almost any camera. You can even shoot your movie with a smartphone , but if you really want to take it seriously, here’s a list of the essentials you’ll need for your shoot:
- DSLR Camera
- Microphone, headset and boom
- A tripod and a steadicam or slider
- A powerful computer for editing
Rental or purchase of equipment?
In the film industry, most production companies hire rental companies for their equipment, so you get what they really need, when they need it. And you, what should you do for your short film?
The ideal scenario would be to have some equipment loaned to you by friends to test it out, but if that is not possible, I would clearly recommend purchasing your own equipment . Why ? To turn, again and again! You are new to filmmaking and you need to learn, make mistakes, develop your skills, and the best way to do that is still to multiply shoots, films… In addition, you will familiarize yourself with your equipment and you will be able to get the most out of it!
If you ever need a cinematographer you don’t necessarily need your own camera, but having everything else on hand is a big plus. This is an investment up front, but if you shoot 3, 4 or 5 films quickly enough, you’ll be glad you didn’t rent your equipment every time!
Here, everything will depend on your film, and your staging intentions. Have you planned for complex camera movements ? I have said it several times and I will repeat myself, do not try to play overbearing on camera movements. Focus on quality over quantity. Your filming will be easier and above all, your camera movements will have more impact because they are less numerous and justified by the subject rather than by the desire to “make it beautiful”. Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins did not hesitate to multiply the fixed shots for Blade Runner 2049 , and it is one of the most beautiful films of recent years.
“Zero” budget: It’s very complicated to shoot without a tripod, and if you don’t have a too heavy camera, an entry-level tripod will suffice and allow you to have beautiful still shots.
Low Budget: If you have simple camera movements in mind, a slider (rail) is perfect for giving some of your shots a bit of dynamism and energy. For steadicam, particularly useful for “handheld camera” shooting and for sequence shots, you can use a kit at a very reasonable price which will offer you a minimum of stability during the cameraman’s movements.
Average budget: Already, you can go on a quality tripod , which will offer both more stability and fluidity. You can also go on a pro stabilizer with jacket and comfort arms for complex movements.
Storage and assembly
Be careful, it’s not over, in addition to all this material, you will need to store your Rushs. You therefore need SD cards for shooting (64 GB in class 10 should do the trick), but also at least a recent and powerful hard drive, such as the Seagate Backup Plus 2 TB USB 3.0 , which allows you to copy quickly, every evening, the rushes of the day in order to have a backup.