Can a camera make you a better filmmaker? It's a very valid question in today's filmmaking world but the answer is a resounding no. As filmmakers, our goal is to tell stories through our unique experiences, general and technical knowledge, and, most importantly, emotions. The cameras and gear you use are nothing without the filmmaker.
To be a filmmaker in this day and age means to be continuously pulled by ever and rapidly evolving technology. This technology is consistently yielding better results and getting more affordable. Cameras are our trade toys, we love them, they're fun, and they make us feel good—almost to the point that we might condition ourselves to believe we need a new one to create a film. The exposure to so much information can make us lose sight of what stands above all else: if you have something to say, a story to tell, you must put it out there regardless of the tools.
waiting for a new camera to make a film is equivalent to waiting to get a new car to get to work.
Lucky for us, the camera does not make the filmmaker—never has and never will. (That would mean anyone with a RED would be the next Kubrick.)
Naturally, the tools you use are relevant for sure, after all, you can't make a film without a camera. But it has nothing to do with what you have to say as a filmmaker and how you say it. It is a vehicle to carry it, to give it life.
You have to reach within yourself because that's the only thing that will make the audience connect to whatever you have to say. No one else, and no amount of gear, will make the audience unlock the emotions to your story. Making excuses or waiting for a new camera to make a film is equivalent to waiting to get a new car to get to work. If you don't have a car, you take the bus or walk, which means you make do with what you have.
Filmmaking is an art and, as such, is not fixed in its forms. It has been shaped, reinvented, improved upon, and polished by its authors who, throughout the years, saw things in a very subjective way. Those before us created rules and expressed their vision through the arrangement of what is inside the frame using angles and light to shape it. As an artist, you have the freedom to create new rules and do whatever you want with the medium. You just need to go out there and do it.
Scorsese often says that telling a story is not an option for filmmakers and that we must do whatever is needed to express it. Sure, it is easier said than done because there are obstacles to overcome. The more ambitious the goal, the more significant the challenge. As someone who's the primary caregiver of two children, I can attest to those challenges and struggles and what they do to our determination to make films. But you must persevere.
Artists are unique beings. You dwell in realms others do not, you are emotional and hard on ourselves, always searching for the perfect moment or shot, but you need to let go of these inhibitions if you want to move forward and accomplish our goals, regardless of their size.
For the most part, whatever you have access to is just fine to help us tell our story. If you have a smartphone, chances are you can make a movie. You don't even need lights, really, as long as you have a story to tell.
In the end, story is king and rules above anything else. Instead of gear, strive to make sure you prep as much as you can before shooting anything so you can carefully craft your images to help tell a better story.
Technology will always change, but what matters is how you connect to the story through emotion and translate that story from the page to the screen. Now, what are you waiting for? Go start planning.