Film Gear Guide – Film Gear Kit For Less Than $1000
Filmmaking is an expensive hobby. With the costs of feeding a crew, securing locations, transportation costs, obtaining permits and so much more for low-budget independent film productions, there isn’t much left in the budget for filmmaking gear.
I remember the first short film I produced and directed, I wanted to build a filmmaking gear kit that would last me for many film productions to come.
But when I realized that I needed a new camera that shot in 4k, had a good lighting kit to create a visually appealing environment, a stable tripod for the static shots, as well as audio equipment to capture incredible sound, I found that the costs kept increasing to a point that I almost had to see my body to science just to get up and running.
When I started looking at the costs for each piece of Filmmaking gear I needed, I wondered…can I build a basic filmmakers kit for less than $1,000? And the answer was…yes I can.
If you are an independent content creator focused on building a film gear kit to shoot movies with, or even build a videographer kit for social media videos that can cost less than $1000, then this article is for you.
I will break down the basic film gear components that you can buy today that will help you build a quality film gear kit for less than $1000.
Essential Filmmakers Guide - Building A Film Gear Kit For Less Than $1000
The Camera (1-2 Lenses) – $700
The most expensive pieces of gear in any filmmaking kit are the camera and lens package.
It’s these items that will put a dent in your budget, but if you don’t have a good camera and some decent lenses, then you won’t be able to capture visually appealing videos. If you are looking to stay within a certain budget, you can find some good deals on Amazon that include a camera and lens in a kit.
For an ideal starter kit, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Mirrorless Camera with 14-42 mm II R Lens bundles the sleek and versatile Micro Four Thirds camera body with the standard 28-84 mm-equivalent zoom lens.
This iteration incorporates a 16.1MP Four Thirds Live MOS Sensor and the Dual Quad-Core TruePic VIII Image Processor, enabling a variety of fast and powerful functions, including video recording at up to UHD 4K.
The Panasonic Lumix G100 Mirrorless Camera offers a 20.3MP Micro Four Thirds sensor and included a 12-32 mm lens that will capture rich imagery and detailed 4K video of your video footage.
Plus the Panasonic Lumix G100 Mirrorless Camera offers a 5-axis Hybrid I.S. which is an optimized image stabilization system that works in conjunction with lens-based OIS to reduce the appearance of camera shake for smoother video footage and sharper stills.
Both of these camera kits come in under $700 and are perfect for smaller budget commercials, music videos, and independent films.
Tip: Choose one brand of camera that you plan on “upgrading”, that way, your lenses will be interchangeable between camera bodies.
Next to a camera and lenses, the next most crucial piece of a filmmaker’s equipment kit that needs to be added is a tripod.
Think of the tripod as part of the camera; without it, the camera won’t work properly during the filmmaking process.
A tripod is necessary for any interviews or locked-off shots where the camera movement and lens settings have been locked in position for the duration of the shot.
While high-end tripods cost $2,000+, but for $50, you can pick up a heavy-duty video tripod capable of supporting the weight of your DSLR and a pan and tilt head like the Magnus PV-3320G Photo/Video Tripod.
Cards and Card Reader – $75
Memory cards do one of the most important jobs on set, so you need to make sure you’re taking good care of them.
The price will hinge on the type of camera you decide to purchase, but you can pick up a 32 GB Transcend SDHC Flashcard for $25. My suggestion is to purchase at least two memory cards to start, so you can swap cards quickly from the camera to a computer.
Recommended Add-On: I do recommend purchasing an External Hard Drive ($100-$200; FireWire 800 highly recommended for fast transfer of media) for your film gear kit because you will need to back up your files on a storage unit beside your computer.
You never want your computer to go down and not have the ability to access all of your footage. This happened to me, and I had to reshoot one day of shooting.
Spare Camera Battery – $50
A filmmaker should always have an extra battery to remain active while using the camera. Most batteries are designed to capture approximately 400 to 500 photographs, and using the camera in video mode will also deplete battery life faster.
So, just like memory cards, having an extra camera battery is a blessing on set for helping you with continuous shooting. Once one battery is low on power, you have a backup ready.
You can find an off-brand camera battery to save you a few dollars, but in my experience, they don’t hold as much of a charge compared to a brand-name battery.
If you’re filming with a DSLR or mirrorless camera, the built-in microphone in the camera is often insufficient for the sound quality you want. Built-in microphones are often minuscule and offer very little flexibility in terms of audio level adjustments. By investing in a shotgun microphone for your film gear kit, you can capture proper directional audio for your film or video.
Shotgun mics (or boom mics) will help you achieve the best sound quality for your production. They offer clear and high-quality audio for your footage by picking up specific sounds without recording other undesirable audio sources. This is why they’re crucial parts of your filmmaking gear, especially if you’re creating documentaries or narrative movies.
Note: If you have a little more money to spend, pick up a portable Zoom ZH4N recorder, which is easy to operate and will record 4 audio channels.
I know 20 bucks sounds misleading, but as you begin to build your film gear kit for under 1000 dollars, the first piece of lighting gear to invest in is a 5-in-1 Reflector.
Light modifiers are just about as important as lights themselves because they give you more control over the light you do have. Many different types do many different things, but when it comes to versatility you can’t beat a 5-in-1 reflector. As their name implies, these light modifiers come with five different surfaces that reflect light in their own way, adding a bit of color (or not), brightness, or diffusion, so you can get the look you want.
5-in-1 reflectors are very versatile, usually are collapsible for easy storage and transport, and are extremely affordable.
Side Note: If you are going to be shooting indoors think about adding a lightweight LED lighting kit that can be packed away in carrying cases like the Neewer Lighting kits. It’s perfect for transporting.
Adobe Premiere Elements is basically a lighter version of Adobe Premiere Pro that is aimed at social media video creators. Mastering the Adobe Premiere Elements won’t take too much of your time and it will enable you to produce captivating videos with ease.
The Adobe Sensei AI technology automatically creates slideshows and collages from both photos and videos so you can create content of the highest quality even if you don’t have a lot of video editing experience.
In addition, features like Face Detection, Shake Reduction or Smart Trim further automate the video editing process while reducing the effort you have to put in order to achieve the results you really like.
Can You Build A Basic Film Gear Package for $1,000?
Yes, you can! But it will be very tight. As you can see, purchasing video or film gear kit can add up in price quickly! There is a LOT of different options available, and don’t let that overwhelm you while you shop for your film gear.
As you improve in your filmmaking skills and dip into your saving from time to time, you will constantly be upgrading and switching things out, especially as technology advances.
The key to finding the right film gear for your film gear kit is to research, learn the basics, and choose the gear that will suit the type of filming you’re interested in.
B&H Video is a great resource for getting your eyes on all things video, plus they have several great tips for beginners and film students.
Browse the best camera equipment deals available at your favorite retailers:
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About the author: Trent (IMDB | Youtube) has spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.