Tag Archive: directing

For the vast majority of us, there is an almost undeniable urge to buy equipment that catches our eye.

After all we see stunning examples of its use across the internet and suddenly our creative imaginations run wild.

First a disclaimer: If you have money to burn, go for it. Really there is no need for you to read this article. And honestly, gear is not a bad investment. You can often resell it in foreign countries for the same amount as the original purchase or slightly less, even years later. Although as globalization marches on, this is not likely to be the case in the next 10 years.

For the rest of us, as painful as it is at times, we will look over three different brands of the same items until our eyeballs are bleeding simply because parting with that hard earned, non-inherited money is incredibly painful. Sometimes it’s the scraps of tips we’ve scraped together over two years and what’s left after buying diapers and baby anti-rash butt-creme and those few dollars can either be spent making life a little more comfortable that year, or pursuing a dream which most others tell us is just plain foolish.

A lot of times, we live out in the middle of nowhere and going to some huge gear expo to get our hands on stuff just isn’t possible. So we read and read and read online reviews until our brains our numb and finally click purchase and cross our fingers.

The truth is that only on the very rarest of occasions we will be able to buy all the equipment we need to do what we are planning on shooting, so what we buy must be planned carefully and against the very real reality of the funds we have to invest.

Now, if you are just planning on doing a one-off commercial or music video or projects every once in a while. Seriously dudes and dudettes: Just rent it or borrow it. The cost of rental will be fully justified vs. buying $20,000 plus of gear for every once in a while use. 

However if you are planning on having a career as a videographer or DP or Director who is hands on and shooting for months or weeks at a time, then buying your gear needs to take a serious consideration in your planning.

In sequence of priority you need to think about:

– Camera

– Lenses

– Sound

– Editing

– Viewing and Monitoring

– Stabilization (tripods, etc…)

– Mounting and gear for movement

Lets take these up in sequence:

Camera – This is your bread and butter moneymaker. Anyone who is serious about creating moving pictures needs to have a primary camera for shooting the day in and day out material. If you are just starting out, you don’t need a RED, Arri Allexa or anything of that level to say nothing of film. An HD-DSLR will suit you just fine and will prove to yourself and everyone else if you should continue pursuing the foolish dream of being a film-maker or perhaps find another calling. It will show if you have “the right stuff” at the lowest dollar amount possible. 


Amigos, if you can afford a RED (or similar) set-up AND the post gear needed to handle that level of footage, go for it.

But chances are you can’t. And the truth is that out of the hundreds of thousands of videos, webisodes and films being produced DAILY all over the world, only 5% or less use cameras at that level.

More importantly, if you are just starting out, people will be more impressed about what you can do with what you have and in all but a very few limited scenarios (such as slow-motion), Canon DSLRs and similar DSLRs will handle your daily creative needs beyond anything possible in the past. Even if you’ve got a handycam, with the vast amount of shallow depth of field camera junkies out there and with the eye of the new generation being trained into this “look”, you need shallow depth of field to even be allowed a place at the table.

As of today, nothing gives you the quality of that type of footage at the price-point that an HD-DSLR does.



Have a great day,





In the last two months I’ve been filming by day and editing by night. I’ve now captured and edited almost two hours of completed footage in my 8 hour documentary series on education. I’ve been learning A LOT as I go and in addition to everything else, I constantly read and learn from books and the internet to continue improving as an artist.

In reading across different forums on the internet, it seems to be getting more and more fashionable to bang on people who have a decent supply of equipment and I think what is getting lost in the translation is that there is a reason to have equipment.

These people who are so quick to try and knock someone down a few notches because they “have so much gear” and constantly state that “all you need to make a film is a camera and one lens” are really missing the point and doing themselves and everyone else a big disservice, particularly newcomers to the filmic world that have little more than their enthusiasm to go on.

Trying to put myself in the mind of a person saying such things, I believe that most of them mean well and are trying to encourage newcomers by getting them over the point of “I don’t have gear so I can’t make a film” or “I have to have all this gear before I make a film” but in doing it in this way they are denying such newcomers what is in essence the key point that needs to be made.

Gear for gears sake is of course only for the rich. There are very very few working professionals that I know which do gear for gears sake. For a master of the craft, every piece of equipment has a use and those that don’t are usually rapidly put up on ebay for resale.

Imagine a painter who was given a canvas and a brush with a jar of black paint and told “All you need to create a painting is what you have in your hands.” This would of course be true to a certain degree and one could eventually create stunning black and white works of art after they had become skilled enough in the use of just those three simple things. In Asian culture alone there are thousands of examples of this.

But what about color? Wouldn’t such an artist want to begin to experiment with blues and reds and greens? I think so. I’ve never met a musician who only used one note to compose a masterpiece.

And that’s all gear really is. It’s just another “color” that makes up part of what you are painting. It’s just another note in the crescendo of your symphony. That’s all it is: a tool which enables further artistic expression.

The crucial point is not to have the gear, but to know what you are trying to say and what piece of gear will let you say that. As a filmmaker you could do a simple tilt down with a camera and a tripod as an actor comes down the stairs gradually becoming larger and larger in your frame, or you could use a jib or crane to follow them as they came down never increasing their size in the frame while continually moving away from their forward motion. These are visually two very different ARTISTIC EXPRESSIONS, although the action being filmed is exactly the same. But what was the filmmaker trying to symbolize about that actor with how they framed and moved the shot?

Beware the person who says “That’s just an abstract, the audience would never notice the difference.” The audience notices EVERYTHING. Every move of the camera, every zoom of the lens, every angle and every composition. They absorb every single moment and action that occurs and the sum of those thousands of “absorptions” is what will have them saying “It was a masterpiece” versus “I enjoyed the popcorn.”

In all the truly great films, every single thing that happened in that film happened for a precise reason.

This brings us to our next point: Gear is a double edged sword. It equally exposes the genius and the fool. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a camera moving around and lens sizes changing for no reason at all other than the filmmaker “thought it would look cool because they had the gear to do it.”

The amateur can get lost in the endless possibilities available with modern equipment and this is for a reason.

A person who is getting lost trying to decide on gear is only getting lost because of one thing: they haven’t decided what they want to say yet.

Once a person knows what they want to say, solving the gear which will help them say it is a very rapid matter.

Can you tell an amazing story with just a camera, tripod, one lens and a computer to edit it and output it. Yes, you can. But the truth is that it will be nowhere nearly as powerful as an amazing story told with proper use of the full array of tools at the disposal of the modern filmmaker.


The person who ignores this and buys everything in sight versus the artist who follows this rule of thumb is the difference between Gear Obsession and Artistic Expression.

There is another side to all of this which is: RENTING vs OWNING. And I’ll take that up next time.

My gear list is as follows:


2 Canon 5D Mark II

1 Sony HD Handycam


– Zeiss CP.2 21mm, 35mm and 85mm with a 50mm Makro on backorder

– Canon 14mm, 24-70, 50mm 1.2, 70-200, 100mm Macro 1.4 extender.

– Redrock Micro Follow Focus V2


– Zacuto Z-finder

– Marshall 6.5″ Camera Monitor using a Zacuto arm for mounting

Mounting system: 

– Redrock Micro Rods, Mattebox and bits and pieces used to tie everything together

– Viewfactor Contineo powered cage

Movement Systems: 

– Kessler Crane with 6, 12, 18 lengths and flexible dolly track

– Kessler CineSlider

– Kessler Revolution head and timelapse motors


– Rode Boom/Shotgun Mic

– K-Tech Boom Mic

– 2 Wireless Lav Mic’s by Seinnheiser