Greetings from a fellow Vegas fan!
Different festivals have different requirements, no universal output format. Some want DCP, some want ProRes, some want Blu-Ray etc. One fest in town here wants 480p30 MPEG-2! The best thing to do is check each festival's requirements. I don't submit to festivals but I do export a Logarith or DNxHD master file and use that to quickly render the various other formats to go to different destinations. Formats like ProRes and DNxHD are large because they don't throw away as much information, which is also why they are the standard for capture and intermediaries. 24GB is nothing for professional HD video and I generate at least that much every day.
So far, the only people asking for UHD and 4K for the most part are novice movie makers. Regardless, good lighting equipment and lenses will not only produce better results than more pixels but will also stay with you for decades.
In your case, I would get 4-5 LED panels (wireless control seems like overkill) and arrange them in an arc centered on the subject. You can use clothes pins to affix frost gels to the barn doors. About the only time I've used actual soft boxes is with Fresnel lamps. On that note, just about any current LED fixture will have better CRI than any fluorescent tube.
"i manage to put together a few samples on garage band that are scored throughout."
Be careful you don't overuse music though.
"do you think lowering the audio recorder would reduce some of the background noise?"
Noise is mostly about mic selection and placement. Over-processing (including AGC) can bring out more noise, but that only seems to be the case in the computer lab. Making sure the audio levels are within standard is mostly about avoiding distortion. Many novices try to record/mix just as hot as modern crushed music masters (I won't get into the loudness war here) and it doesn't work. While yours isn't like this, I had to prep a 10-minute short for projection yesterday that was 21dB over THX standards! It was easy to lower the audio to standard level on my end but since the mix was "everything maximum loud all the time", including background noise, it had no impact, just irritating mush. Standards exist not only to ensure the comfort of the audience but also to allow maximum impact.
Now, background noise is not a bad thing. It exists in the real world and depriving your videos of it removes a layer of realism. In fact, we try to record at least two minutes of "room tone" at every location and sometimes overdub more background activity later to ensure there's realistic and *consistent* background noise throughout a scene. A lot of people obsess about trying to eliminate all shadows too and that makes for a very flat, unrealistic image, but I digress. Bringing the mic a bit closer will reduce acoustic issues but beware; too close will sound unnatural. Sometimes you can't avoid excessive background noise but there's tricks to fix that.
I certainly know what it's like to work with a minimal crew and everybody changing hats from one shot to the next. My first actual film short had a crew of four as well, all of us appeared on camera (though I had the least screen time since I was directing). It can be done but it's tough and sacrifices must be made as you already know.
I can write much more than is suited for an open forum, so feel free to E-mail me if you wish. I am soundman at gcm studio, all one word of course and the usual .com suffix. Audio production alone can take a lifetime to master and virtually nobody in the video industry takes the time to learn it. If you specialize there, you will have much less competition than as a DP or director, though it's a less glamorous job.
Ah, you didn't mention you were traveling by air, I see your dilemma. What about four tungsten pans with diffusion filters? The color is better any way.
I agree that LEDs aren't quite there yet but I've been impressed with their progress. I prefer the newer generation of LEDs over fluorescents, though they're more expensive.
Ah, gottcha'. I have done similar but it can look jerky since some frames are displayed longer than others. Editors that support frame blending (or resampling as Vegas calls it) will allow a variable cross-fade between adjacent frames to alleviate that issues but it takes longer and can look blurry if the motion is very fast. At 120fps, I suppose the issue may be negligible.