Selecting Equipment

Although this is not a book about equipment, it is a subject with which every director must deal, so a few short notes are appropriate. Equipment choice should be a matter for crew discussion rather than the sole decision of the director. The function of the director is to tell the crew all he or she can about the film's style, shape, difficulties, and objectives and then to make decisions about equipment with them. The goal should be to use the simplest but most effective equipment compatible with the nature of the film and the size of the budget.

In selecting a camera, you need to discuss whether your shooting is basically static or mobile and whether a lot of handheld shooting will be required. Will you need a single-frame option or variable speeds? Do you require special lenses? What about filters? Does any of the shooting require dolly tracks? And since you are going into the jungle, should you perhaps take a spare camera? Also try whenever possible to take a video monitor. This is very useful when shooting to check the shots, and invaluable at the end of the day when you want to view rushes.

You will also need to discuss stock. Since you have gone on a preliminary "recce" with the cameraperson, he or she will know whether to recommend normal or high-speed film, Kodak or Fuji, and whether to work in negative or reversal. The cameraperson will also know whether your preference is for shooting with available light whatever the conditions, or whether you want plenty of light to give a feature quality to the production. Again, that discussion will influence the choice of stock.

The soundperson needs to know who and what you want to record and where. Given that information, he or she can choose a recorder (probably the standard Nagra) and, very important, the appropriate microphones. If you are going to film a concert, the sound technician will know whether to bring microphones of types X and Y, and if you want to do interviews without a boom, he or she will also know whether to bring microphones A and B.

Lighting equipment must he thoroughly planned in advance because it is often too cumbersome or bulky to be replaced in a hurry in some remote outback. In most cases, the lighting will he chosen by the director, cameraperson, and gaffer in consultation. Lighting is the bane of most directors because it takes so much time to set up and can be such a pain once it's standing. I like to go for the simplest and the least heavy. This often leads to arguments with camerapersons who fear for the quality of the filming. My counterargument is that I want to go in fast and film the family while they are all fresh and haven't waited hours for the crew to get ready.

Something always goes wrong with equipment; that's why I go for the strongest, the simplest, and the most reliable. I also try to cut down on all the extras that the technicians swear they need to bring but that experience has proved to be unnecessary. On the other hand, certain items — spare lamps, connection cables, and pin boxes — always seem to be scarce. Here, I bring more than is necessary and have never regretted that decision.

Film Making

Film Making

If you have ever wanted the secrets to making your own film, here it is: Indy Film Insider Tips And Basics To Film Making. Have you ever wanted to make your own film? Is there a story you want to tell? You might even think that this is impossible. Studios make films, not the little guy. This is probably what you tell yourself. Do you watch films with more than a casual eye? You probably want to know how they were able to get perfect lighting in your favorite scene, or how to write a professional screenplay.

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