January 15, 2017 at 5:14PM, Edited January 15, 5:26PM


Is it more efficient for a Student to buy or Rent for Narrative Filmmaking?

It's been an adventure searching for a camera to purchase. With my budget there's not much that's super impressive and that was known going in. The really impressive ones Sony F35, Canon's and good old-fashion film are slightly beyond my reach when I factor in school and other funds I need to pay for. However, I've come down to a final reasoning - renting what I need as I go rather than blowing most if not all of my money on camera. Especially since the amount of projects I do depend on how much I write. I find different projects are inspired differently. I may want to shoot on film for one, digital for the next etc.

Just looking for some guidance from you more experience filmmakers. Is it okay to go down this path? And if so are there any more tips you could give me?


I rented and borrowed as needed till I could afford a camera, which wasn't till a year or two after college but I still shot freelance jobs. Everybody thinks they have to own entire production facilities so there's a lot of equipment sitting in closets waiting to be used. Be ethical though. If you're getting paid for a project, offer money for whatever equipment you borrow. Actually, I haven't owned a pro or prosumer camera for the last six years either. As you recognize, you can get whatever camera meets your needs for a particular project by renting. You also don't have to be upset that you have to replace a camera before it paid for itself.

Film isn't as out of reach as a lot of people think. You can get an old but great 16mm camera for $2,000. A merely decent 16mm camera can cost a few hundred. You just can't shoot like video people (including DSLR shooters) do. Rehearse your takes ahead of time and only shoot what you can use. Keep a camera report and have the lab do only the "keepers" to keep costs lower. You could even shoot reversal film and edit by hand. A film mentality will help video productions as well. If sets and actors are prepared ahead of time, it saves a lot of time on-set and if you run through takes before shooting, you'll wind up with a lot less junk in editing.

Just don't use zoom lenses unless they're really good (that holds true for video as well).

January 16, 2017 at 8:41AM, Edited January 16, 8:46AM


Thanks again Stephen always coming in with the useful information. Where can I get more information on shooting reversal film and editing by hand?

Jackson Flowers

January 16, 2017 at 10:05AM

You can get Agfachrome 200D and Tri-X 200 from Spectra Film & Video. Sadly, they are the only remaining reversal stocks. I used to LOVE Plus-X 50 and Kodachrome 40! Shooting reversal is much like shooting negative except for two things: There's no fixing the image in post. You can also expect a softer image if shooting in color but more contrast and saturation.

As for editing, you can go "ghetto" with a simple two-reel editor for under $100 (or get a projector and splicer but that's harder on the film) or get a multi-plate editor for about $1,000. I found an old editor for free. The guides were frozen so I took it apart, cleaned and lubed it, works fine. That's part of the beauty of film equipment, it can be serviced! A part needs to be replaced and it isn't made anymore? Machine or 3D print a new one. You can't do that with digital gear. A friend of mine found a nice 6-platter editor at a school and didn't pay a dime. Something like that is more if you want to do professional A/B roll editing with sync sound.

There's two methods of splicing, tape and cement. Tape is what film editors like to use because you can take splices apart and change them if need be. Cement is pretty much permanent, so that's what negative cutters use.
If you want to get into the professional options, there's protocols to follow but I won't get into that here. If you want to go with Super-8, the simple two-reel editors are the only option. I even have one you can have for the cost of shipping since I'm not shooting S8 anymore.

January 16, 2017 at 2:36PM, Edited January 16, 2:59PM


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