5 Types of Equipment Every Beginning Filmmaker Needs

First and foremost, aside from the script, the most important thing about your film is the quality. As an independent filmmaker, you’re aspiring to create content that should be comparable to films screened at TIFF, Sundance, Cannes, etc.

An important aspect of bringing your films to this caliber is the quality. What makes this quality is the equipment. Here is a list of equipment you need to start your first films.

1. HD camera

People like to watch things in as high definition as possible, and they can concentrate a lot more on the details of the film when the quality is clean and sharp. In fact, you’ll find that videos on YouTube that have fewer views than others are due to their lower quality. No one is going to waste his or her time watching blurry, pixelated footage of something that would otherwise look beautiful and clean.

As a filmmaker, expect to spend more money on equipment than other YouTubers, because you are filming an actual story seen through someone’s eyes. Vlogs and sit-down videos are more casual, so they require less professional equipment. If there’s anything you should spend the bulk of your budget on for your film, it’s a nice camera.

2. Microphone

If the sound in videos is sharp, clear, and loud, chances are that’s due to an external microphone, not the camera microphone. Using an external microphone ensures that the video catches every spoken word as clearly as possible. These microphones are usually very long and detachable, which makes it easy for the production crew members to position it close to the person speaking.

Bad sound is just as bad as a bad visual. You should definitely invest in an external microphone because it will make sure that the sound won’t sound far away or fuzzy.

3. Tripods

Filmmaking is a huge task that requires hours and hours of work. You’ll likely have to shoot a difficult scene at least twelve times in five different ways. So, don’t expect to have a steady hand to film all of this. (In fact, don’t expect to have a perfectly steady camera hand at all).

You need to have a tripod on ready for every scene. Using a tripod for your camera ensures a steady, unmoving angle, adding to the quality of the film. How annoying for viewers would it be if a subtle, sporadic shaking kept erupting throughout the film? In addition, consider looking into a moving tripod as well. These sliding platforms for your camera will create smooth camera movement for certain scenes.

If your budget is so tight that it really doesn’t allow for buying a professional tripod, you can also try a makeshift one by stacking solids, such as boxes. However, there isn’t much of an alternative for moving tripods.

4. Laptop

You’re going to need a laptop to load all of your footage onto for review and editing. This can be your personal laptop, or you can purchase a generic one simply for saving footage. Just make sure that the editing software you plan to use is compatible with your laptop.

5. Editing software/apps

The movie magic is the editing. Everything comes together at this stage, and you can pretty much hide or expose any part of the footage that you, the filmmaker, want to. Basic editing software such as Final Cut Pro ( which the best one, really, because iMovie doesn’t allow for much creative freedom) gives you all the tools you need to weave together scenes, caption certain moments (e.g. location and time, like in the James Bond films), cut fight sequences, etc.

Editing should take you either as much as or more time than the filming did. Be very picky and meticulous at this stage, and use everything technology has to offer you.

Most importantly, remember that this is how you can correct your mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up for not filming at a different angle; utilize the editing software to work around it. There are so many different affordable and professional editing apps out there for every aspiring filmmaker.

Clearly, a lot of time, money, and work goes into filmmaking. However, that’s why artists like Wes Anderson and the Coppolas are so revered. If you intend on walking down the professional filmmaking and cinematography path, definitely consider investing in the above equipment for high-quality results.

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Angelina Hue enjoys listening to wide variety of music, from instrumental movie scores to alternative indie to Korean pop music. She also likes to make short films and write fiction.

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