What You Need to Build a Versatile, Compact, and Ultra Cheap DIY Light Kit
Even on projects that can afford to rent a lighting and grip package, it can be useful for you to have your own lighting kit stashed away. Whether this kit is something you keep in the trunk of your car, good in a pinch — or what you use to make your living — the boy scout motto applies. Who knows, maybe you’re up the creek, just that one cube tap or ground lift short, but because you brought your kit, your gaffer owes you a brewski when the day is done. Thanks to a few open filmmakers with some ingenuity up their sleeves, we have some details on what extremely affordable and useful gear can comprise your own DIY lighting kit.
Jeremy Widen has just posted a great explanation of his own hardcore-DIY lighting package, itself inspired by that of the Frugal Filmmaker. Before we check out Jeremy’s video, here’s Scott Eggleston — the Frugal Filmmaker himself — with his original lighting kit:
Next, here’s Jeremy Widen’s recently posted demonstration of the modifications he’s made to the recipe:
What I like about these kits is their multi-usefulness. Depending on what you’re doing, all the gear here could pretty much take care of your whole scene — or, at the other end of the spectrum, cover all your bases for that vital, basic stuff you simply can’t do without on a gig — which just so happens to be what, by some misfortune, you would have otherwise found yourself without had you not heeded the boy scout motto. Even if you’re going with the latter option and this stuff is just a backup that lives and sleeps in your car, you will never do anything but thank yourself for keeping it close. This is the another thing I like about these packages, they allow you to come prepared for some curve balls without having to commit to being a full-on owner-operator.
The disclaimer is that this is all actually really truly DIY equipment, meaning it wasn’t necessarily intended for film production. This doesn’t mean you can’t do great stuff with it (as we all know, if it works, it works). Just keep in mind that, unless you have a good amount of electrical experience — well, even then, safety first — there’s a number of considerations that come with using this stuff on a set (which implies made-to-be-temporary rigging and running lighting for extended periods). Ground lifts (cheaters, or three-to-two-prong adapters) are supposed to be grounded. Worklights like these can get hot (caution should be taken with placement), and non-ceramic sockets in any situation shouldn’t be trusted, and should be checked occasionally. Make sure you’re not overloading things like the dimmers, stingers, power strips, or cube taps (or anything else you’re patching through to the wall, also, the wall itself) past what they’re rated for. Some of you reading this might already know all of these concerns, but in case this post and these videos are finding the younger or less-experienced versions of all of us, it may be important to note.
If you guys appreciated the videos, be sure to visit Jeremy and Scott’s respective pages and let them know! I’m sure they’d also love to here what other sorts of stuff you’ve included in your DIY lighting kits, and we would as well — so feel free to share below!