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#1 Rich Hibner

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 05:57 PM

I'm just a guy working from the bottom up. I had a colleague who I thought was with me for the long run, but turns out, he's going in a different direction. His reasons: He feels we can't make films the way we need to. His reason, because we don't have the "right equipment" to make films or the money. He goes on to say that if we had lots of money we could make films right. We don't have the proper lighting.

Now we've only done 1.5 actual shorts...first one was decent. Not too bad, nothing great either. It was the first film we had ever done. Worked on it together. Shot it using some clamp and work lights and a DVX. At first when we finished it, he was pretty satisfied with the final product, now he goes on to say how much it sucked. Second film was all him. He wanted to take full control and I was cool with that. I was there just to help set up the lights. He wrote it and wanted to direct it but it didn't work out to good. It was all too sudden, and there wasn't enough planning on his end. The whole project went down the gutter. It wasn't even a big piece....maybe a 2 min short. After that day he's just been cynical about everything. There's no convincing him that it's much more than just money to get a film done right. It seems he wants every piece he writes to be filmed like it was going to get nominated for an Oscar. Am I wrong to suggest that? For a guy who's never even worked on set, is he right to say we don't have the "right equipment" to make small indie films. What do most small movie sets have when it comes to lighting? Serious question here because maybe I'm optimistic in thinking the lights I've been buying little by little are good enough to work with. Or the equipment I have is "enough" to make a picture worth seeing. Should I just say screw it and venture off on my own? To me he reminds me of the guy that thinks that Nike shoes will make him play sports better.

Sorry so long.
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 06:15 PM

With few exceptions, lighting equipment isn't going to make things possible but rather make them easier and faster. For example, you want a soft quality of light. You can either set up a kino or you can set up a tungsten unit, bounce it, and flag it. You can get the same thing with both but one is easier.

You are working with the same kind of thing. With careful planning, you can do what you want. The planning comes with realizing when you can and can't do certain things with your equipment, time, and budget. Maybe you want a big masquerade ball scene. That is big and expensive and time consuming to light. Instead, perhaps you can make your characters interact on the periphery of that scene, or maybe they don't even get inside. See where I'm going with this? A lot of making films on the super cheap with limited equipment is tailoring the film to the budget so you can realistically achieve everything.

In my experience, the lowest budget features have a similar lighting and grip package. It usually consists of a basic tungsten package that goes up to 1k units. Both fresnels and openface units. Sometimes 2ks. There is usually a decent grip package with the basics of 18x24, 2x3, 4x4 grip goods and then usually a 6x, an 8x and perhaps a 12x. Add to this kinos and a couple of 1200 HMIs and that seems to be the basic low budget feature package around LA. You can do TONS with this.

In your situation, maybe you can spring for an arri softbank kit? I lit an awful lot of things in school with just one of those, a few c-stands and small grip gear.
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#3 Tom Hepburn

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 06:23 PM

Hey Rich,

I don't have the answers to some of your technical questions, but I will say that "dooms dayers" are very difficult to be around on any level and in any situation when trying to realize a goal, in my experience. Sometimes when things get tough, and they always do at some point, an attitude be it good or bad can be contagious. Hopefully that drive and the positive attitude, that your friend appears to lack based on what you're saying, will see you through the rough spots. More money isn't always the answer.

As they say, my 2 cents.

Also, I just picked up a 4 light Lowell Omni kit for $470 on Ebay. Someone please delete my Ebay account :D Not sure if that would work for you what to do, but maybe it would.

Tom
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#4 Benson Marks

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 06:44 PM

I'm just a guy working from the bottom up. I had a colleague who I thought was with me for the long run, but turns out, he's going in a different direction. His reasons: He feels we can't make films the way we need to. His reason, because we don't have the "right equipment" to make films or the money. He goes on to say that if we had lots of money we could make films right. We don't have the proper lighting.

Now we've only done 1.5 actual shorts...first one was decent. Not too bad, nothing great either. It was the first film we had ever done. Worked on it together. Shot it using some clamp and work lights and a DVX. At first when we finished it, he was pretty satisfied with the final product, now he goes on to say how much it sucked. Second film was all him. He wanted to take full control and I was cool with that. I was there just to help set up the lights. He wrote it and wanted to direct it but it didn't work out to good. It was all too sudden, and there wasn't enough planning on his end. The whole project went down the gutter. It wasn't even a big piece....maybe a 2 min short. After that day he's just been cynical about everything. There's no convincing him that it's much more than just money to get a film done right. It seems he wants every piece he writes to be filmed like it was going to get nominated for an Oscar. Am I wrong to suggest that? For a guy who's never even worked on set, is he right to say we don't have the "right equipment" to make small indie films. What do most small movie sets have when it comes to lighting? Serious question here because maybe I'm optimistic in thinking the lights I've been buying little by little are good enough to work with. Or the equipment I have is "enough" to make a picture worth seeing. Should I just say screw it and venture off on my own? To me he reminds me of the guy that thinks that Nike shoes will make him play sports better.

Sorry so long.


Robert Rodriguez went from the bottom up. Quentin Tarantino went from the bottom up. Spike Lee went from the bottom up. Kevin Smith went from the bottom up. I'd say, keep going this route even if your colleague doesn't think it'll work. I don't know your colleague, but I'm not sure he'll get anywhere going in another direction. To be able to get the right equipment, you'd have to be a rich person, or have a family member who is a millionaire.

The truth about filmmaking is that most independent filmmakers don't have the right equipment. The key to making a great movie (or short, in this case), in my opinion, is to have a fantastic script and have the ability to make something great with the limited equipment you have. The Blair Witch Project, I think, is a good example of that.

I'd recommend reading Dov S.S. Simens "From Reel To Deal." It explains the basics of filmmaking and tells you some good ways to make a great movie with the limited budget and equipment you have.

I haven't done any shorts or movies of my own yet, but if I pursue a career as a filmmaker, I'm probably going to take the route from the bottom up.
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#5 Ira Ratner

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 07:58 PM

Rich, I gotta tell you:

Your post was wonderfully honest and intelligent and well thought out. And it could have referred to a THOUSAND occupations, not just filmmaking.

Whatever the occupation and the limitations of the tools available to us, we all bitch that we could do better with better equipment. But we still keep DOING it until that day comes.

I'm an old fart guitar player who has owned and sold dozens of guitars over the years, and believe me--the more expensive guitars didn't make me any better of a player. Sure, the better ones sound better and play better, but to the people I was playing to, they couldn't care less whether I was playing a $200 one or a $3,000 one.

Have you ever heard of the director Werner Herzog? Check out some of the early stuff he's done with the CRAPPIEST equipment on earth. In fact, his first few films were done with a 16mm that he STOLE.

If you're producing the next Star Trek, you need the best. For what a lot of us are doing, for now, we don't.

Just DO it, and dump that guy.

His passion is in the equipment, not in the art involved.

Edited by Ira Ratner, 21 November 2008 - 08:01 PM.

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#6 David Rakoczy

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 08:39 PM

For example, you want a soft quality of light. You can either set up a kino or you can set up a tungsten unit, bounce it, and flag it. You can get the same thing with both but one is easier.


They are not the same... that is why I'll take a Tungsten Unit through diffusion, bounced, or any of the above, over a Kino... any day.

Many others feel the same way.

Edited by David Rakoczy, 21 November 2008 - 08:39 PM.

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Gamma Ray Digital Inc

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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

The Slider

FJS International, LLC

Metropolis Post