At KD Conservatory, we give our acting and motion picture production students access to professional, state-of-the art filmmaking equipment. We believe that sophisticated, specialized equipment gives our students the ability to take their creativity and talent to the highest level. But what if you want to try making an independent film on your own and don’t have access to this type of equipment? While your gear won’t be up to the quality of the equipment at KD, it’s possible to put together an entry-level filmmaking and film directing equipment collection with a few key pieces.
Let’s start with the obvious – if you’re going to be creating and directing your own film, you’re going to need a camera to capture the action. For indie filmmakers on a limited budget, consumer or “prosumer” (a level slightly better than consumer, but not quite professional) grade digital camcorders are often the best choice. Even within this category there are a wide range of options, each with a variety of features that will affect both the price and quality. Because high definition camcorders have become drastically more affordable recently, it’s generally worth the few extra dollars to choose HD rather than standard definition. Also consider the zoom capabilities of you camcorder. For greatest versatility, you’ll also want to look for a camcorder that allows you to incorporate the accessories you will want and need.
What kind of accessories will you need to go along with your camcorder? For starters, you’ll want to add a tripod to your collection to hold the camera steady during stationary scenes. You will also need to make sure you have plenty of digital storage for your footage; ideally, your camcorder will use removable memory cards, allowing you to both easily upgrade and swap cards and quickly transfer the data to a computer.
Even if your camcorder has a built-in light, it’s is unlikely to be good enough for filming a movie. Even as an independent filmmaker, you’ll want to invest in some kind of external lighting. For indoor scenes, modified shop lights from hardware stores can work as a cheap option in a pinch. Even outdoor scenes may still benefit from additional lighting in order to compensate for shadows; if you’re able to acquire a three-point lighting setup, it will take you far for indoor and outdoor filming alike.
As with the built-in lighting in camcorders, the microphones in your camcorder are generally just not good enough. These mikes are likely to pick up lots of background noise (including camera sounds) instead of the audio you want. Because of this, you’ll need another method of capturing the dialog and other noise intended for your film. External microphones – both wired and wireless – can be purchased fairly inexpensively. If you’re able to acquire – or assemble – a boom system for your microphones, you’ll be able to capture even better sound. Alternatively, aspiring filmmakers might want to look into external audio recorder; they allow you to record sound in various locations and very close to your subjects, though you’ll have to put in extra work in post-production to synch the audio and video.
Speaking of post-production, you’ll need some method of editing your film. While professional film studios use specialized equipment, an adequate setup can be put together with consumer-grade hardware. Your editing computer needs to have some power behind it, but doesn’t need to be the highest-end or state-of-the-art in order to handle basic editing processes. In addition to capable hardware, film editing requires the right software for the job. Film editing software options run the gamut, from simple basic software for under $100 to software loaded with features that can run upwards of $1000.
Still Have More Questions?
KD Conservatory has acting, musical theatre, and film production programs to help prepare students for careers in the entertainment industry. Contact us with any of your questions, or check us out on Facebook for ongoing updates and information!