High-quality filmmaking used to be out of budget for many aspiring filmmakers. That’s changed with more affordable tools and the proliferation of technology. You don’t need an expensive camera to make a great film (although it does help), but you do need a plan.
Maybe you’ve heard of the film Tangerine, which garnered critical acclaim after its Sundance Film Festival premiere. Guess what? It was filmed on an iPhone with the enhancement of an app called FiLMicPro, an anamorphic lens adapter from Moondog Labs and a Steadicam stabilizer mount for smartphones. So, even if you can’t afford a professional cinema camera like the Red Epic (which has been used to shoot many Hollywood films), you can still get a high-quality film using the ordinary tools you might already have on hand (with some help).
If you have a smartphone, tablet or a camera, you have the first tool you’ll need for creating a film. Research what enhancements, like lenses or apps, you can add to your equipment that will help you to get the best picture possible. While you’ll be able to correct some visual issues in post-production, it’s always better to try to get the clearest shots possible during shooting to limit your amount of work in post.
The next thing you’ll want to invest in is lighting. Great lighting will go a long way in creating a high-quality picture. If you’re filming outside, you can use the natural light if it’s the right intensity, or add light reflectors (which run between $5 and $10) to use the sun’s light. You can also buy starter light kits from camera stores or online.
High-quality films always have great audio quality. Have you ever watched a film with so much static and background noise that you couldn’t hear what the actors are saying? Depending on your film, you’ll likely need a few microphones, a field recorder like the Zoom H4n, and a boom pole. Hiring a sound recordist and boom operator for your film will also help, if you have it in your budget or can get a few friends to volunteer.
For post-production, you can start with Open Source software, such as Audacity for audio and Open Shot for video editing. You can find Open Source and free software for creating special effects and motion graphics as well. Research which software will do the job you want, check reviews, and download most of them for free. Of course, you can also use industry-standard software if it’s in your budget or you have access to it.