WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU NEED TO MAKE A SHORT FILM?
Not as much as you might think! Here is my indie filmmaker guide to camera and audio gear for your next short film.
Whenever you look at behind the scenes footage from a Hollywood (or even larger indie) production, you will find a massive amount of equipment and crew. Big HMI lights, fancy cinema cameras like the Arri Alexa LF or RED Monstro 8K, a dolly track that goes on for 50 feet, wireless video, video village, big fat cinema lenses etc.
The bad news for you, fledgling indie filmmaker? It all costs a LOT of money.
The good news? You don't need any of it to make your short film.
Seriously! You really only need the basics when creating a short film - and you can create award-winning work with much less gear than you think you need.
Many of my short films are done with minimal equipment and crew. It's not size of your grip truck but how you use it, or something to that effect.
Here is the list of my personal recommendations for a small but effective indie filmmaking setup
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
Vello EF to MFT speedbooster (allows you to mount Canon lenses to MFT)
Sigma ART 18-35 lens
Sigma ART 50 lens
E-Image tripod sticks and head (pick one that supports at least 15lbs)
Variable ND filter
Aputure Deity 2 Shotgun Mic
Boom pole and XLR cable
Zoom H6 audio recorder
SD cards for camera and audio recorder
4 impact medium duty light stands with grip heads
2 medium flags, silks
Aputure 300D II with Mini light dome attachment
1 Luxli Timpani RGBW panel
1 Luxli Cello RGBW panel
The total cost should be around $6500-7000. If that's not cheap enough, you can rent virtually any item from your local rental shop, though you need to rent for each project. I can definitely sympathise with this. For my first few films, I had to use an ancient Pentax camera that didn't even have a fully fledged video mode. I had no lights. My only audio recorder was a Zoom H1. The tripod I had broke after using it once. Ah, the good old days.
If you are more in the "I'm not spending more than $1000" camp, here is a list to get you started:
Used Canon DSLR - $400
Used Canon 17-40mm f4 - $250
Used Zoom H1 - $70 (attach it to a boompole)
Used Boompole - $35
Used Tripod (just make sure it has a fluid head) - $150
2 used light stands - $35
2 eBay led panels - $100
Used clapper board - $20
Editing Software and Hardware
In terms of editing software, I HIGHLY recommend you download Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 16. The basic version is FREE. It's evolved into an excellent program. I personally use the full studio version. I switched to it after using Adobe Premiere Pro for the past 10 years.
I am assuming you already have a computer, but if you don't or need to upgrade, the easiest thing to do is go to a local computer store and ask to buy a "gaming PC" for under $1000. This will help you get a rig that is fast enough to do the editing you need to do for your short film.