I remember the feeling of being a budding filmmaker. The ONLY thing on my mind was purchasing my first camera. However, being a student, I knew that there was no way I would ever be able to afford one when in school. At the time, a friend of mine, Nils Sorensen had a Panasonic HVX200 and I was blown away by the short films he was producing. I wanted one of these cameras!
I was debating between the Sony EX1 and the Panasonic HVX200 but did not really understand the difference. I read posts after posts talking about the differences of both and watching hundreds of online videos. I would easily say that seeing someone I knew use the camera is what really sold me on buying the HVX200. I turned to my parents for support. Although reluctant at first, they ended up lending me money for my first HD camera and the rest was history. If it wasn’t for my parents, I would not be were I am today.
A constant question going through many people’s mind is whether or not to wait for the camera that is just around the corner. For people waiting for the next best thing, there is no point! Why not buy now and start making art now. Technology will always be improving and it is only one element in the filmmaking process. If the story and concept are rock solid, what gear you use to capture it really does not matter!
I purchased my first HD camera in 2005. Having just made such a huge investment (at the time), I felt that I had to use it frequently to justify purchasing it. I started shooting almost every day.
I think the most fascinating thing about purchasing gear is the obsession that inevitably follows. After purchasing the HVX200, I immediately wanted more gear. First, you loath for the gear your friends have, then you look towards others creating similar works in the industry, and then you want it all.
BUILDING UP YOUR ARSENAL
When starting out, borrowing gear is key. My biggest recommendation is to make friends with people that have gear. I still borrow gear from friends that have equipment that I wish I had! Building relationships is key in film.
3MS+ GEAR LIST
I started out the 3MS+ project with only the Panasonic HVX200. I had no tripod. I had no sound gear. Only the camera! During the project however, I was given some free gear, which helped out tremendously! Alan Fullerton and Morris Hill Pictures gave me free tripods and Philip Bloom gave me a version two kessler pocket dolly. After the HVX200 I got the Canon 7D with 18-135mm kit lens (which I used in conjunction with the HVX200 and Nikon D80 for over half of the films) and near the end of the project, managed to purchase my Canon 5D Mark II kit.
Canon 5D Mark II
70-200mm II 2.8L
14mm II 2.8L
Although not my complete look at all my current gear, the list above is a snapshot of the gear I used for the first year of 3MS+. If I was asked to provide advice to others starting out with no gear, the biggest word of advice is relationship building. The key, when there is no such thing as a budget or parents to lend you money, is being able to borrow gear. I started out with one camera and because of being able to borrow gear, I was able to make money to purchase more gear. If it wasn’t for the support system I had in place, I would not have been able to finish 3MS+.