Despite my better judgement I often read blog posts and articles from self-appointed filming gurus (you know who they are). They often wax lyrical about cameras and generally promote a feeling that gear is king. As I sat with a severe case of Gear Acquisition Syndrome, I started to think about what really matters. What do you really need to think about?
Lessons from an amateur
Here's my thoughts on how you can learn to love your work
- If you're thinking about buying equipment, go out and film something. Chances are you're looking to buy something because you think it will make you better, or worse you think it will motivate you. When I feel the need to buy I try and learn something new about my gear or use it in another way. Bottom line: Until you know your gear inside out, it breaks or doesn't do what you need, you don't need to buy anything.
- The most important piece of kit you'll ever buy is a tripod but you'll probably rarely use it. It really, really makes a difference. When I watch what I consider to be my "better" home videos, there's a common theme: I used a tripod (or other support) for some or most of the shots.
- Keep it simple. The more gear you introduce, the more you have to worry about. My ideal set up (when I don't have to worry about looking like a twat) is one camera, onboard mic, two lenses and a slider on a tripod. I've managed to film for a whole day carrying this lot around. If I care about looking a twat, I take only what I can fit in my pockets. Sometimes that's just an iPhone (see above - the gear doesn't make a good video, you do)
- Use manual focus. I would never manual focus for stills, but do for video. Practice using manual focus lots, if helps you understand your camera.
- Always look around you and don't be afraid to crawl on the floor or climb up walls (see looking like a twat). Look up from the camera and explore your surroundings. Make a note of the types of shot that work for the types of stuff you're filming - you'll soon build up a mental library of filming positions.
- Don't be afraid to look like a twat. You look like an idiot with your camera, so get over it.