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Why does filmmaking have to be so expensive?

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  • Why does filmmaking have to be so expensive?

    Hello to all,

    Today I write to you in a bout of frustration over why making films have to be so expensive, as well as "needing to spend that money in order to get noticed."

    When I started making films in my backyard with puppets and friends, I used a primitive set up, as I'm sure most 13 year olds did. No audio recording, no tripod, nothing. Just an old camera and my imagination. But then, getting older and older, I realized I would have to ask my parents to buy me a good enough camera to start making real attempts at filmmaking. They couldn't afford it at the time, but I did eventually get a Canon T2i as a present one year. There, I thought, would begin my foray into making my defining small film that would get me noticed by everyone and thrust me into the world of entertainment. Then came problems.

    Recording on the camera not only meant that the cameraman(any one of my friends willing to work for McDonalds) would have to focus while moving, which is a daunting task for; Someone who doesn't have a camera rig, and cameramen who don't know how to work cameras well. Then came the problem of audio, one I'm still overcoming. At first, I said, well audio is important, yes, but it's not necessarily more important than the video. I was extremely wrong. Not only do these two entities have to be on an even playing field, they can't afford to slouch or else the whole film slouches. Most, if not all people, can tell you if your film looks or sounds cheap, regardless of their prior knowledge to film or position in life. Of course, mothers and family would tell you it's amazing, because they are your family. Friends, on the other hand, will rip you into two, and for good reason; the stuff you have sucks.

    Now, filming "Percy", I had gotten from my brother a NTG-2 Rode Shotgun Microphone, to which I was ecstatic. Maybe, just maybe, I can film something that might not be entirely great looking, but at least it has the sound to back it up. Another problem hit. Where do you plug in the microphone on a T2i? Shotgun mics don't plug directly into the T2i. Yahoo Answers. Yahoo Answers.

    I finally found something, I would have to buy a Zoom H4n Recorder, something I have yet to do. That's ONE more piece to my collection, a collection that should be as simple as camera, actors, go. Instead, its camera, 600, microphone, 200, recorder, 300. It's a royal pain to have to get all these things just to barely qualify yourself as "watchable". Now, of course, starting "Percy" already, I didn't use the NTG-2. So, now the film, without entirely reshooting it, has the camera's speaker picking up the audio. And while it's not horrendous, it's still not pristine. Then, don't even get me started on lenses. For a little while, a photographer friend of mine told me, "Hey, why don't you upgrade your camera? The quality is so much better!" Little does she know, I don't have any cash to pay for anything anymore, so really, the T2i is the best I'm getting, which isn't a bum deal, but it's not necessarily a full house either.

    I consider myself a filmmaker through and through, I watch it, I breathe it, and I strive to get myself in the position in life to entertain millions. Now if only the obstacle of money wasn't standing in my way, maybe THEN I can finally make the moves I really need. After all, with all the overpriced lenses, all the microphones and rigs, stands, software, recorders, DSLRs, who has enough money to pay $10 for a film?

    Joe Canton

  • #2
    Don't get down on the fact you shoot on a T2i. This guy shoots on a T2i as well and has won awards at festivals.

    As for equipment being expensive, yes it is and that is one of the pitfalls of being in filmmaking. You have already learned the fact that you need good audio for a successful film. Good lens and learning how to use your camera will help you go further.

    He uses 50mm f1.4 and 24mm f2.8, both primes and the 18-55 F3.5 Zoom Kit Lens. Both of the primes are around $300 each. Start with the 50MM Prime and when you get more money move to the 24MM. I started with a 35MM on my camera and it cost me $500 (Sony brand camera) so those lens are a little more reasonable.


    • #3
      All of my camera and sound equipment cost no more than 400. I rely on old manual focus lenses without OSS and use the weight of a tripod from the 1950s to stabilise handheld shots, but I still get decent image and sound quality. Equipment really isn't all that important at the end of the day if you can be innovative with what you've got. I've even taped lenses to my camera because I haven't had the right adapter at some point.


      • #4
        Starting out, it is an expensive hobby. Any hobby if you really think about will need some money to get it from point A to point B. But it doesn't always have to be expensive. Utilize your resources and do a lot of research and come up with some kind of compromise to see what fits your current project. Every project is never the same. Check out my YouTube page and see my music video "Lone Star Man." I wished it could have turned out better but my initial concept was way out of my budget so I settled with what I could do.

        My first project: "Lone Star Man" by Caleb Fischer music video,

        $0.00 budget

        Personal owned equipment (5D Mark lll, 85mm f/1.8) (expensive equipment but it took me a long time to acquire it)(a T2i will work as well)

        Me (camera operator, producer, editor, director)

        Crew/Cast (family and friends doing it all for free)

        Location (friends house, again, for free)

        Food (they insisted on bringing their own food)

        Post Production (did it all myself, that's free)

        Since the completion of my first project and seeing that I could accomplish it, I decided to step it up on my next project. Directing another music video and collaborating with professional film producers. With a $10K budget, I am able to visually express my concept on film. STAY TUNE FOR THAT MUSIC VIDEO IN FEBRUARY 2014.
        Last edited by VTLithyouvong; 11-26-2013, 05:33 AM.
        Producer / Director / Photographer


        • #5
          If you get better at all aspects of filmmaking, you can do more tasks yourself, which will decrease your costs. Start off with learning what you know the least about on your next film.


          • #6
            Ive been asking myself this question for two years now.....


            • #7
              Regardless of how expensive it is (and it is), it's still far cheaper than it was even ten years ago. I've been trying to get a feature film made for over a decade and I'm just now getting to the point where it might be possible.


              • #8
                I am standing in front of that question every day when thinking about the upcoming costs we are facing.
                Our budget will need to cover almost a raging $600k

                Luckily I studied CGI all my life... so a big portion cost wise will be "spare-time-whip-cracking" => $0 (maybe the odd $4 here and there for Energy Drinks ... ok well... until I am done I will probably have invested $4000 just on energy drinks). But that is a good exchange as to paying $30k on CGI which someone else screws around with.

                Also... composing wise, I am playing the guitar in a metal band and know (pretend to a certain...) how music works (that is a big plus... lemme tell ya).

                The more talent you have the less you need to invest. :)

                ...but yeah... making movies is a lot about how to cheat on visuals... meaning... how much can the audience envision themselves... lots of shadows, scary silhouettes, crazy lighting setup, DOF (anything blurry doesn't require detail.. again silhouettes do the trick) and the right sound can save you a bunch of money.

                anyways... I know that problem.

                Best regards and a happy new year folks.


                • #9
                  Do what you can with what you have.




                  • #10
                    I own a Rode mic and the Zoom H2n. You're going to need an adapter. I use the Zoom to bootleg concerts.

                    My first movie Us Sinners was shot on a Canon XL-1 and got distribution. I had the Rode mic going straight to the camera.

                    Equipment is great. But, to be a great filmmaker you have to be a great storyteller. If your story is great, and your actors are great, you can shoot it on MiniDV 29 fps and still get noticed.

                    If you can't focus while walking then don't. Do what is possible. Most of Casablanca is a camera mounted on a tripod. It isn't the camera movement, it's the story the camera is telling.

                    There's someone on here that makes the most magnificent music videos of people in action. He doesn't have the greatest equipment (or music), but he has a great imagination.

                    Do the best you can with what you have. Story comes first. Acting comes second.


                    • #11
                      Imagine it this way. How much would it cost you if you would have to go to a film school. If you really want to be a good film maker and make it to the top, then a few hundred dollars shouldn't stop you from getting to your goals. The experience you get is worth more than the money.
                      You don't need to have professional equipment.
                      I got most of my equipment from DIY. If I needed a camera slider, I would look at Youtube videos and see how to make a cheap but good camera slider. Find out how much the parts would cost at the hardware store and build it.

                      My DIY equipments:
                      Camera Slider, Clapper board, Shoulder Rig, Boom Pole, Car camera mount.

                      Professional equipments:
                      Canon 60D, Shotgun Mic, Zoom H4n, Tripod, and Flycam.

                      You don't have to have everything in the above list to make film. As long as you have a nice quality video and audio, a good story and good actors, you will get noticed.

                      Check out my Youtube channel: UltimateVisionFilms