As a beginning filmmaker, there are a plethora of options when it comes to equipment to purchase. Cameras, lenses, lights, microphones, and the list goes on. With limited resources, what are the best investments you can make that will enhance your visuals, but also help you build your business?

STUDENT: What equipment do you recommend for the new filmmaker? What is worth purchasing? How long should you rent before purchasing it?

ANDREW: Some people say you shouldn’t buy a camera. Everyone else is going to buy a camera and you can just borrow it from them. I somewhat disagree with that because if you don’t have anything then it’s really hard to practice. But the thing is, you don’t have to have that great of a camera to practice either. Even the Canon T2i can do really, really good work. The Canon T5i is right around $600 for the body and a kit lens and you can do a ton of stuff with a low-end camera like that. I’m sure there is a ton of stuff on the Nikon side too – I’m not familiar with that.

Have a camera that you can shoot something with, even if it’s just a smartphone. Audio is also important because audio is half the video. You might not be able to get a shotgun mic right off the bat – although some of them aren’t too expensive – you can get the Rode VideoMic Pro for around $200. You can also get fairly inexpensive lavalier mics – there’s the Audio-Technica lav – we did a review on the MWCFA blog a while back. You are going to get some hiss and stuff from it, but it works pretty good and you can put it to record to your phone and use that as a separate unit you can put on somebody.

So, having something for video, something for audio, and then having some kind of a tripod is really helpful because you have to put the camera on something. Although, a lot of people overuse a tripod so don’t just think that’s an end all.

Regarding when you should actually purchase something that you are renting a lot – when you get to the point that you are renting it so often that you could basically pay it off in three or four projects then you can basically start paying yourself rental. So you are still charging your client the same as you would have if you were renting, but instead of renting it from the rental house, you can pay yourself back.

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