So you want to be a film maker? Well there is always film school. However, I can tell you that all film school got me was a mountain of debt. Sure, I learned a lot, but I could have have figured that all out on my own. Gone are the days of shooting film and spending 10s of thousands on processing and transfers. Gone are the days of editing on very expensive machines. These days you can make a movie for a lot less. I will show you how.
First you need a camera. I would suggest the Canon 7D (pictured on the left). Here is why: The 7D uses the APS Sensor that is 22.3mm x 14.9mm (as opposed to the full frame sensor on the 5D or 1D). Standard Academy 1.85 aspect ration for 35mm film is 20.95mm x 11.328. For more info on Depth of Field and Aspect Ratio, check out my blog post about it.
What this means is a 7D sensor size is closer to shooting on 35mm film. Therefore, your depth of field will be closer. This becomes very important when shooting with the smaller lighting set ups needed to shoot fast, on location productions.
*Super low budget tip: The 7D is a metal body camera. This helps with the durability needed in a shooting environment, and helps when using heavy lenses. However, if you can not afford the 7D, Canon also makes plastic body DSLR's that use the same sensor, and processor. The image is the same (I've shot 2 camera with a 7D and T2i, and the footage cuts together seamlessly). So if $ is tight, grab the Canon T2i (pictured left) instead.
Lenses: You need a lens to shoot a movie. Glass does make a difference. I am a big fan of Canon glass, but this is all up to taste. I would suggest getting some basic lenses to starts, and then supplement your kit with whatever you like.
First, you should have a decent zoom. One with built in image stabilization would be nice. On the cheap, there is the EFS 18-55mm IS. This lens is a bit slow at f3.5 (trust me, if you are shooting indoors with 1k lights or under, you will be shooting at a f2.8 most of the time...). However, the zoom, and Image Stabilizer will be a life saver for quick outdoor shooting in daylight.
Now you are going to need a set of prime lenses. This is where you can get the speed you will need to shoot in those low light conditions. Although the L-series lenses are the gold standard here, there are less expensive options. I have the $125 Canon EF 50mm, (I picked it up on sale for $99) This lens is a fast f1.8, and I love this lens (you can read how much I love it in this Blog post). There are many other good lenses available, and I will link to them below. I would also suggest getting an extra battery, and an AC adapter.
That's right. you are going to need a tripod. Maybe some light stands, C-stands, reflectors and flags too. You can get stuff like that from e-bay or sometimes craigslist (at least in L.A. it shows up on craigslist). Or you could check Manfrotto.
Okay! Now you have your gear, you need software. The most economical solution out there right now is the Adobe Creative Cloud. Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects, Speed grade... all for $50.00 a month.
What other software might you need? Well I do have a few Apps I am going to recommend. First, there is Artemis. The Director's viewfinder App. This app allows you to enter what camera you have, and enter what lenses you have, then it will show you on your iPhone what the cropping of each of those lenses will be. This saves massive time in setting up because you can choose what lens you want to use without putting them all on the camera first. This is a pricey app, but way cheaper then a real directors viewfinder.
Next, I use Pocket Light Meter. I have a $500.00 light meter I have been using for decades. These days, that stays in my bag, and I just use the one on my iPhone.
Last, I am going to recommend Sun Surveyor. This app is an Augmented Reality Sun path tracker. This will allow you to see exactly where the sun is going to be and at what time. Essential for shooting outdoors.
©2013 David DeFino