February 20, 2018 at 12:54PM


Equipment: Low-Budget Documentary Filmmaking in a Third-World Country

So in a few months I'm going to Kibera, (the largest urban 'slum' in Africa), with a few people who are helping start an alternative school there. I'll be trying to just film what I can and see what I can make of it. It's just a very low key one-person thing; I'm not getting paid or commissioned or anything. I want to bring the right equipment but there's a very high chance it will get stolen so I want to bring cheap equipment that I'm not investing a whole lot in right off.
Suggestions? I already have a camera but that's pretty much all.


I would recommend getting a mic, monopod, lite panel, and a variable ND. Here's some of the cheapest of the cheap.



Light Panel

Then the variable ND is going to depend on your lens. You can still get those for pretty cheap regardless though.

February 21, 2018 at 2:36PM

Alex Alva

Plenty of spare batteries.

February 21, 2018 at 4:27PM

Julian Richards
Film Warlord

A budget lav mic or two will make things more flexible. The Boya BY-M1 is cheap but good. It works with smartphones and ordinary cameras. For more flexibility you could connect it to a phone in an interviewee's pocket and sync the audio later (a cheap alternative to wireless).

I'd also get a couple of five-in-one folding reflectors to diffuse sunlight or fill in shadows.

February 27, 2018 at 2:36AM

Tom Barrance
Film educator

You probably know this, but… Please be very careful. I know a number of people who work in Africa (NGO workers and journalists) and the poor slums are no joke. Violence, theft and rape are common, and a couple I know who lived in Kenya were almost kidnapped. On a number of occasions.

Make sure you take no risks and have street-savvy local "minders" to help you (not idealistic First-World youngsters who've been there for a month or two) and who can read the on-the-ground situation. You will obviously stick out like a sore thumb there.

February 28, 2018 at 9:04AM, Edited February 28, 9:04AM


I've shot through the Favelas of Brazil, and most recently through Cuba, using the Gh5 and a small portable lav mic, and variable ND filter. That was a perfect small discreet kit for that. I gotta say though, having a handler or fixer -- even a trusted local you can pay for a few days -- to walk with you for a bit, unveil some interesting angles to the culture, and just provide another body for added safety, really makes a big difference. If you could afford it, definitely consider it.

March 5, 2018 at 8:23AM

Joey Fameli
Producer / Tested.com

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