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New Filmmakers- What do you really need?

Getting started as a Filmmaker can be a bit scary. However, you don’t need 20,000$ worth of camera and audio gear to get going.

All you need is something to record with, something to edit on and your imagination!

Ok, so let’s elaborate on that. This list is for anyone ready to upgrade from a simple webcam setup

First, something to record video with. By this, I mean something that will record both video and audio. Now I know that we all want to rush out and spend a boatload of money on digital cameras and high-tech audio recorders. However, if you’re just getting started, chances are that your budget for gear is relatively small. So let me break it into several parts. Starting at most expensive and working down.  For this build, we are going to concentrate on a budget of 1,000 U.S.$ total.

 What kind of gear can I get for 1,000$

Now, remember that this number is for Everything you need to start making content. Also, I know that most people don’t just have a thousand dollars laying around. But I have found that most people, when motivated will find a way. It may also be worthwhile to mention that you will quickly learn two things, First, this is not a lot of money in the film world and second, you can get quite a bit if you take the time to look.


Cameras: Digital Cameras, Cell Phone apps, D.S.L.R, Handycam…? Where to start?

In my humble opinion, I found the D.S.L.R gives the most options to the filmmaker. I started with and still am using a Canon T3i/600d. For the money, it gave me the ability to capture the shots I wanted. Now it’s been discontinued but still available online. 

While researching this post I found a great deal that I wish was an option when I got started. The Canon EOS Rebel T6i DSLR Camera Deluxe Video Kit + Accessory Bundle on eBay for 749$ really gives you a great start. This is a Filmmaker’s Kit In a box! 

Canon EOS Rebel T6i DSLR Camera Deluxe Video Creator Kit




And yes, you can find apps and lenses for your cell phone that will allow you more freedom to use the camera, Filmic for iPhones and Cinema FV-5 for Android.  To see the ability what you can do with a cell phone suggest you look at Film Riot’s video




Both are cheap and will let you use your phone as a second or “B” camera. But the added difficulty might make it more trouble than it’s worth.


OK, So I got the Camera…but what about sound/audio?

So you got the kit, Awesome!

Post your thoughts in a comment and send us a link of your video! Let’s showcase your work!

Let me say this next thing very clearly. 


Zoom H4N

Usually, the rule is to spend half your budget on audio. But if you did get the kit in the link above, you ready got a good starting microphone and so you are more than halfway on audio. My first choices would be the Zoom H4N.  Great audio tool for the Indie filmmaker. But if my math is right, we are running low on funds…we got more than 3/4 of what we need. That kit is awesome.


Ok, so we spent 749.00$ with free shipping and have 251.00$ left. So let’s go with the next best choices. The Tascam Dr-05   99.00$  and the Tascam-Dr-40  129$ were the two choices for the first digital audio recorder.

Tascam DR-05

The Dr-40 has XLR Output and at the time I didn’t need it. I bought the Dr-05 and I really loved the quality of sound that I was able to get from it but in hindsight, now that I am using XLR cables, the extra 30$ would have been well spent. 


Starting with 1,000 U.S. $ 

Camera Kit- 749$

Digital audio recorder

The options were:

  1. Zoom H4N–          99.00$
  2. Tascam DR-05–   99.00$
  3. Tascam DR-40    129.00$

So we have 

251.00$ minus the recorder

I will guestimate and go with the Tascam DR-40 for 129$

So we have 121.00$ left  (0r 151$ if you went with the cheaper recorder)


OK, Got that…Now what?

So we have a few more things needed to finish off our complete beginner’s filmmaker build.

  •  Sescom LN2MIC-TASDR100 3.5 Line to Mic -25dB Attenuation 9″ DSLR Cable for Tascam. This line connects the audio out from the digital recorder and into the camera. The camera has to receive some kind of audio for you to be able to sync your separately recorded audio in editing…more on that in a future post. 
  • A 3.5 mm splitter:  This will allow you to monitor the audio coming out of the Tascam into the camera with a set of headphones.
  • Heavy Duty L Bracket with 2 Hot Shoe Mounts: This is a really useful bracket that can be used as a handle for getting really nice handheld shots. I use mine to hold my shotgun mic and the Tascam recorder most of the time. That way I can go handheld and run with all my gear in a nice compact package.
  • HDE Metal Hot Shoe 1/4″-20 Thread Screw Post Converter Adapter for Camera to Tripod Flash Mount. This connects the recorder to the L bracket.
  • Headphones: This will connect to the other side of the splitter so you can hear the audio.

Ok, I know this audio setup sounds weird, so I have added some pics of my rig for reference.

DSLR Camera rig The connection from the recorder to the splitter, then to headphones and to the camera.


I hope that helped make things more clear.

One last thing on the gear side is a quick release plate. There are a lot of these on the market, but the ones in the link I posted here are friggin awesome, inexpensive, made of aluminum and very secure, locking the camera to your tripod 

This should cost about 60$ so were still have about 61.00$ left!

So let’s add a Cannon battery pack Grip for the t6i -9.99$ and -24$ for a four pack extra batteries & spare charger for your camera LP-E17 Battery w/ Charger For Canon

27$ left. 

Note: To install the Battery grip pack, you will have to remove the original battery door (PLEASE READ THE MANUAL ON HOW TO DO THIS AND PUT THE DOOR IN A SAFE PLACE) They cost about 20$ for a new one, so don’t lose it. 

And the last item for our hardware list is an AC adapter for your T6i. This is 32$ and is optional. If you went with the two cheaper options on the digital recorder this would fit our balance, if not, we went 5$ over. If you plan on doing most of your camera video in one place, it’s a handy item to save you from having to run on battery power at home.  


WHEW! you still with me? Great. Almost done!


Wow, I’ve got all the gear and I’m Broke! but you forgot about editing!

Nope, I didn’t.

You can get started with a free version of HitFilm Express. It’s a simple multitrack editing program that will let you start learning how to edit professionally. Here is a tutorial on how to get started.


Congratulations on starting your journey to becoming a filmmaker. While it is a long and arduous journey, it is very rewarding.

So that’s it for today. I will continue this series and I hope that this helps you. So do forget to comment and let me know if there is anything you are trying to find specifically. In this quest, Google and Youtube and Digital Life Concepts will be your best friends.

Some more resources include:

Magic Lantern 

Magic Lantern is a free, open project software that is saved on your SD card and has a wide range of abilities. BUT!

It bricked a few cameras in the beginning!

So while I have and do use it. Be warned that you use at your own risk! 

The Magic Lantern Project deserves a look. You can check out the site and learn the risks v.s. rewards. 

Video Resources

Film Riot & Indy Mogul Youtube channels. 

Both channels offer excellent information and will show you a lot of DIY Ideas for getting started. 


If you not sure of the type of camera to want. Try a few out for a weekend and see what you like.

Camera rental:


Till next time,

“Keep your shutter rolling”




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Shaun Bennett
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