9 Clever Ways You Can Turn Cardboard into Filmmaking Gear

Cardboard can be turned into virtually anything, including a filmmaker's best friend.

Let me just say this right away—I know this seems dumb and irreconcilably below-the-bar, but hear me out.

Set life can be unpredictable. Sometimes a handy piece of gear breaks or is forgotten at home. Sometimes you come up with a great shot but don't have the tools you need to pull it off.

Nobody likes to be in those types of situations, but when you are, you get creative. Your inner MacGyver comes out and you start coming up with clever solutions and hacks to get the job done.

And it's in that spirit of imaginative persistence that I bring to you a video by Jordy Vandeput and the Cinecom team that shows you how to make a bunch of really useful DIY filmmaking gear with the duct tape of the paper world: cardboard.

Okay, you crafty little sweeties. Let's learn how to make sliders, focus rings, and cookies.

I know, I know... this is ridiculous. What respectable filmmaker is going to show up on set with gear made out of cardboard? Who doesn't have a couple hundred bucks to invest in a decent camera slider?" The answers to those questions are "no filmmaker is showing up on set with that gear" and "me". 

The fact is, no one's suggesting showing up on set with giant sheets of cardboard saying, "Alright, gang! Let's make some softboxes and focus rings!" The point of DIY "gear" like this isn't to literally use it the way you would a manufactured piece of equipment—folding it up and stuffing it in your gear bag next to your T-shirt diffuser and cake pan LED. No, the point is two-fold: to give you a zero-cost solution to an on-set problem you can't otherwise solve, and of course, to keep your creativity flowing.

These kinds of ideas and hacks can be huge lifesavers for those who haven't amassed a ton of gear yet—who can't just reach into their gear bag and pull out a sunhood when they need one. And oftentimes you don't know you need something until you do, so until you're able to get your hands on what you need, it's smart to know a few DIY tricks.

I've said it once and I'll say it again (and again and again forever): If it's dumb and works, it's not dumb.     

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This is wonderful! Cardboard is great for filmmaking! When you're making your own video and don't have to worry about impressing clients on a paid gig, this kind of stuff is perfect for saving money and getting the job done. Cardboard is mostly free and also easy to recycle. I use cardboard pretty heavily in set construction. I've made a couple of 30ft spaceship hallways out of cardboard and white poster paper. I've made lighting soft boxes using Costco frozen burrito boxes. It's not the best solution but it works. I'm using this display shade tip because I'm always squinting to see my BMCC display when outside.

February 26, 2020 at 12:09PM

Anton Doiron

A funny topic for Cinecom but I think a few of these card board hacks could be useful to store in your mind for when you're in a situation where you forgot something and need to improvise quickly. Card board is something that is likely to be found in a lot of locations and could save you in a pinch with one of these tips.

February 26, 2020 at 1:41PM

Tom Doherty

I love your style of writing! :) And this is indeed very clever.
"If it's dumb and works, it's not dumb" - amen ;)

February 27, 2020 at 5:45AM, Edited February 27, 5:45AM

Dunja Djudjic