Documentary Film Camera Kit – You’ve got the vision, the team, and the tale you want to convey in documentary form; now what? A documentary film camera, microphones for capturing your audio for your documentary, and a few additional documentary camera instruments are the next items you’ll need.
Here are ten camera equipment necessities for documentary filmmaking that you may not have considered yet if you’re seeking for ways to round up your documentary film camera kit.
Extra Camera Batteries
A documentary filmmaking camera running out of battery during a crucial interview might be disastrous. Especially when an interviewee is providing a heartbreaking narrative of something that happened in the past and you don’t dare to ask them to begin again.
So having a few additional sets of batteries for your camera and other gear like lavalier mics for a trouble-free shoot is crucial to having full documentary film camera equipment. Experienced filmmakers bring more batteries than they need, and the good news is that most batteries are inexpensive enough to stock up on ahead of time.
Camera manufacturers typically offer higher capacity batteries than generic batteries on the market today, so keep that in mind when stocking up on extra camera batteries for your documentary film camera set.
Anti-Fog/DeFog Lens Cleaner
When it comes to documentary filmmaking, you never know where you’ll be filming or when you’ll get your shot. You could be filming outside on a chilly, dry day and then dash into a warm inside location to finish the shot. As a result of the shift in air pressure, your camera lens will fog up.
In worst-case scenarios, this could slow down production as your camera team has to deal with cleaning up your camera lens. Adding an Anti-Fog lens cleaner in your documentary film camera kit will help you in times like these. Unlike normal lens cleaners, defog solutions help keep the fog away for constant shooting.
Documentary filmmakers frequently do multiple tasks on set in addition to directing. When you’re shooting, having a multi-tool with a small pocket knife, screwdriver (both standard and Phillips head), and a few other small tools on hand and within reach can be invaluable.
Multi-tools are extremely handy and should be included in any Documentary Film Camera Kit, whether it’s for tightening a loose tripod screw or dismantling and reassembling a clamp.
Something to keep in mind when carrying around this type of multi-tool when you are filming is that it might be allowed in highly secured areas where a knife may not be allowed. Browse Multitools and pick out the right one for you.
Extra Lighting Gels
Lighting gels, despite their name, are simply sheets of translucent plastic that are popular among studio photographers and come in a variety of hues. Any Documentary Film Camera Kit would be incomplete without lighting gels.
By placing one over a light source, you may change the ambiance of the location you’re filming in or correct poor lighting circumstances. You can warm a space, add fluorescence, or create a dreamlike, surreal ambiance depending on the hue you choose.
The creative possibilities with gels are practically unlimited because you can stack them.
On-Camera LED Lights
Sure you can shoot your documentary with a low-light camera, but shooting handheld in any situation where it is dimly lit and wished you had just a little more light on your subject, you need a LED light for your documentary film kit.
Fortunately, many small, battery-operated shoe mountable LED lights can insert a robust punch of brightness into any scene. For the best results, add a LED light that’s dimmable and allows you to adjust for color temperature which will help you in any lighting condition.
While shooting your project, you’ll always need to hang, fly, or mount anything to something. There are numerous ways to accomplish this, but you’ll need a number of clamps on available when the time comes.
Flexible clamps are an essential part of any lighting setup. They can put flags to prevent extra light and do a variety of other things.
Furthermore, many flexible clamps feature at least one clamp with a fairly wide end that can easily clamp into a tripod leg or light stand. A versatile addition to your Documentary Film Camera Kit.
Related Article: 10+ Best On-Set Production Gear Tools For Filmmakers
Clothespins, or “C-47s”
Clothespins, often known as “C-47s” in the business, are a vital part of any movie lighting kit, just like flexible clamps.
The humble C-47 holds gels and diff to barn doors, pulls pictures away from walls to avoid reflections, can be reversed to pull scrims from hot lights, can be broken down into camera wedges to level a hi-hat (or stray apple box), holds up the edge of a 4-by floppy so the director can get to video village, keeps doors from closing, marks your coffee cup… the list goes on.
Large plastic clips are fantastic to have in your camera bag compared to the traditional clothespins due to their durability and don’t take up much extra room in your bag.
To safeguard their cameras, most cinematographers employ a UV lens filter, especially if they have a costly lens. UV lens filters keep dust and grime from getting on the lens. Essentially, the lens is shielded by this protective coating.
This filter will prove to be a helpful addition to your Documentary Film Camera Kit if you shoot outside and in environments with a lot of UV radiation. The filter can keep sand, grit, and other airborne particles from getting close to your lens. It’s easier to remove rain or water droplets off your lens filter than it is to clean them off your lens.
This is especially so if your lens filter has a multi-resistant coating.
Waist Belt Production Pack
In the 1980s, everyone wore a fanny pack as a fashion accessory. Fanny packs have been out of style for a long time, but they’re making a comeback, and you’ll be glad you have one on set.
A waist belt production pack is the film industry word for a fanny pack, and it’s ideal for documentary filmmakers who are always on the go and need filmmaking tools with them.
Having a production pack with multiple zipped padded compartments on your belt is ideal for storing small filmmaking gear and accessories within arms’ reach.
They come in handy when I’m shooting guerrilla-style documentaries and need to carry a variety of lenses, batteries, lens filters, a filter wrench, a wallet/identification, memory cards, and other items.
Compact First Aid Kit
If anyone on your crew is clumsy like me, you’ll want to have a first-aid kit on hand. Things can go wrong on a set if you’re a run-and-gun documentary filmmaker or a documentary filmmaker who shoots largely interviews, so it’s essential to be prepared with a lightweight first-aid kit that you can carry with you at all times.
Look for a first-aid kit that is compact enough to go unnoticed in your bag while still including enough medical supplies to address minor cuts and bruises. You may never need a first-aid kit on set, but if you do, you’ll be glad you had one.
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This is just a small list of tools for the filmmaker looking for accessories to fill out a documentary film camera kit. You may have these valuable tools in your filmmaking kit right now, but if you don’t, maybe thinking about adding them to your gear kit, you never know when you might need them.
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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.
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