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How should I spend my $3000 production budget?

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#1 Kev M

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 09:02 PM

I'm the DP on a very low budget, extremely small crew, black-and-white feature film.  I have a $3000 budget and a 3-week-long shoot. I'm looking for advice and recommendations on what equipment to rent/buy. For the majority of the production, I'll be the only person doing set-ups and operating the camera. I'll be attempting to use as much practical and natural lighting as possible. For the duration of the first half of the movie there will be little to no camera movement; mostly locked down on a tripod. But then the second half will be mostly handheld.

I want to use a camera that's easy for one person to operate and performs well in low light situations. Once again, I have a budget of $3000 and plan on renting most of what I need.

The following are some ideas of what I’m thinking of renting:

Canon C100

Zacuto shoulder mount rig for C100

Rokinon prime lens set (14mm, 24mm, 35mm, 85mm)


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#2 George Ebersole

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 12:04 AM

One producer told me that the one area he'd spend more money on was the art department.

 

If you can get a decent camera and film stock, and you know your onscreen talent is capable, then give them stuff to work with.


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#3 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 10:43 AM

I take it that's the camera department's budget.  Still, $3000 for 3 weeks?  That seems like it'll be stretched very thin.


Edited by Bill DiPietra, 31 May 2014 - 10:45 AM.

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#4 Kev M

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 10:44 AM

Thanks for the advice, George. But the $3000 is strictly for equipment/DP department and the other areas of production are already budgeted for separately.


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#5 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 10:47 AM

I take it that's the camera department's budget.  Still, $3000 for 3 weeks?  That seems like it'll be stretched very thin.

That beats anything you can get in this region. I'd gladly take a gig like that.


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#6 Kev M

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 11:04 AM

As much as I realize that there's never enough money, unfortunately we have to work with what we're given. This is only my second feature as DP. So I suppose what I'm looking for is some specific advice on what other DP's would do in my situation. What can I cut corners on? What should I NOT be frugal with? I've already decided that renting equipment may be the way to go. 


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#7 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 11:18 AM

Rental makes sense on low budget productions, don't spend it on buying gear unless you're going to sell it off straight away.

 

You have to use your full real name, it's one of the forum rules. You need to contact Tim Tyler, the site owner to arrange this.


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#8 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 11:23 AM

How many scenes will be shot at night?  How many will be shot during the day?  Does the production already have a camera crew on-board or are you hiring them?  And if you are, is their pay coming out of your budget?  Do you foresee the need for a filter kit or will the necessary effects be achieved in post?

 

More details about the production will yield better responses from us.  But at the end of the day, the most important things I would be throwing the money into are the basics: camera, lenses, lighting & grip equipment.


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#9 Kev M

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 12:04 PM

75% of the movie will be interior shots during the day.  There will only be a total of 2 people, including myself, in the camera crew. I plan on using ND filters and a Black Pro-Mist 1/2 filter


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#10 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 12:15 PM

In that case, I would concentrate on lighting & grip equipment to make the set-ups as easy as possible (since it will only be you & two other people.)

 

Others in this forum will be able to better assist you with what a good digital camera might be for your budget.


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#11 Jaron Berman

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 12:19 PM

You're in the PERFECT situation to use something like the C100.  B/W is cool because you're not dealing with issues of color fidelity, color noise, color spaces - any filtration on the camera is to achieve varying tonal changes to the image.  C100 seems to really fit the bill, I think that's an excellent choice as its noise is quite pleasing even in color - and looks GORGEOUS in B&W.  Yeah, I actually like the noise off that chip (in the c300/500) enough to shoot higher-iso on purpose.  But B&W frees you from the whole 4:2:0, 4:2:2, 4:4:4, "raw" mess - all you care about is luminance and noise and that chip handles both very nicely.

 

 

With the limited budget and the philosophy to use as much natural light as possible - have fun with it and OWN it, make it a rule - choose to bring no lights, but a fair amount of grip.  Shape what's there, block out windows, turn lamps on/off and fly in flags for negative fill - the C100 can dig into shadows quite nicely, you won't be hurting for light level so instead of adding more - try shaping what's there with bouncing and flagging.  Lens-wise the Rokinons look quite nice but are difficult to use, as the focus helix has no logic to it - they jump focus scales.... for fixed lock-offs, fine... for movement they can be even more difficult than even a Canon still zoom without true manual focus - I know, sounds crazy but it's true.  Use them for sure, but also see if you can get a canon 24-105mm (NOT 24-70, it's junk for video) for handheld, it's a good inexpensive zoom that's sharp and holds focus mostly through the range, and the focus throw is predictable.    Have fun, sounds like a good time.


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#12 Oron Cohen

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 03:09 PM

I'm the DP on a very low budget, extremely small crew, black-and-white feature film.  I have a $3000 budget and a 3-week-long shoot. I'm looking for advice and recommendations on what equipment to rent/buy. For the majority of the production, I'll be the only person doing set-ups and operating the camera. I'll be attempting to use as much practical and natural lighting as possible. For the duration of the first half of the movie there will be little to no camera movement; mostly locked down on a tripod. But then the second half will be mostly handheld.

I want to use a camera that's easy for one person to operate and performs well in low light situations. Once again, I have a budget of $3000 and plan on renting most of what I need.

The following are some ideas of what I’m thinking of renting:

Canon C100

Zacuto shoulder mount rig for C100

Rokinon prime lens set (14mm, 24mm, 35mm, 85mm)

Hi Kev, 

 

Actually 3000$ for 3 weeks is a decent amount of money to get a good camera, do you have any good relationship with any rental house? do you know someone from production that does? I'll def vote against a c100, this is very limiting for a demanding 3 weeks feature. you should try and get at least a C300, if you Canon is what you're after or get someone to rent you a basic Scarlet package, some of those collecting dust at private owners or rental houses, give them a call, say this is the budget you have and see what they say, you'll be surprised. 

 

I once got a rental house to agree on a Scarelt+CP2 lenses and accessories for 3K, it's just depends how you approach them, you need to make it clear that you'd like to build a solid relationship with them and you have more projects on the way. 

 

You could also try a Blackmagic+CP2. 

 

I highly recommend to get decent lenses that you could pull focus properly with or just go with a canon Zoom and a good FF with hard stops, will make your work easier and faster. 

 

This is just from my personal experience, I'm sure there are many ways to go about this. 

 

p.s- I know you mentioned low light, but I really think that any camera that could go up to 1600ISO is sensitive enough for 90% of situations. 


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#13 George Ebersole

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Posted 01 June 2014 - 12:15 AM

Thanks for the advice, George. But the $3000 is strictly for equipment/DP department and the other areas of production are already budgeted for separately.

Sorry, I should have read your entire post before shooting off at the mouth.

 

What are you shooting?


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Glidecam

Metropolis Post

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Paralinx LLC

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Aerial Filmworks

The Slider

Rig Wheels Passport

rebotnix Technologies

Visual Products

Ritter Battery

CineTape

FJS International, LLC