The gear you need to shoot your own indie movies (2023)
It has never been easier to produce your own videos, short films or even series. While video production isn’t exactly a cheap hobby, you don’t need to go to a studio to get studio-grade shots. There’s no such thing as automatic camera-skill, but if your skills are struggling with environmental constraints, these tools can open up a number of possibilities for you.
Update December 2022: We’ve added more information on the tripod and audio section.
A Good Tripod
More than anything, you’ll need a good tripod to hold your camera, no matter what camera you’re using. Finding the right tripod can be a bit of a trap, because it’s easy to find very cheap tripods—you can go straight to Target and buy one for under $20—and when you’re just starting out, you’ll probably should do so. But as your needs grow, you’ll find that not all tripods are created equal.
For starters, some very basic photography tripods are designed with stills in mind, but when it comes to video you may want more motion possibilities. A good tripod for video should be able to rotate freely and smoothly without sticking. You may also want to look for a tripod with interchangeable ends, so you can buy the right head for the shots you need instead of trying to adapt your shots to fit your equipment. .
I use This K&F tripod ($90) features both a ballhead–for free movement–and a flat swivel mechanism for panning. This gives it a lot of flexibility without needing a lot of bulk. It also uses a standard Arca Swiss quick release plate, which will come in handy if you upgrade your gear over time. Check out our full studio gear guide here for more tripod recommendations.
Brackets, C-holders and clamps
Making sure all your gear is in the right place–and keeping them there–is such a complex and important task that it a whole profession in Hollywood. Don’t worry, if you’re doing small-scale (or single-person) production, you can still do the basic setup, but it’s a good idea to learn about the different types of equipment you can use to determine position your lights and microphones.
Tripod are often useful for locating things like lights, and they are extremely cheap. They are usually sturdy enough to hold LED panels, GoPros, microphones, or other small devices. You probably won’t want to use one as your camera’s primary tripod, as they usually only have one screw at the top that doesn’t give the camera much movement. Plus, they’re pretty easy to spill, so you don’t want your expensive camera to rest precariously on it. But for the majority of the other devices in your set, they can be really useful.
grandstand is a step up if you need something more sturdier and especially if you want to hang the device on your head. In addition to extending upwards, you can attach extension arms to them to allow you to reach horizontally (or at an angle) your subject. This is especially useful for attaching directional microphones that work better when they are placed above the subject, as it focuses on the sound of the subject it is pointing at while not picking up much noise from the environment.