The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Where Do You Stand on Light Stands?
You've got lights but you need a place to put them. Let's talk stands.
Perhaps the biggest factor of making an image look cinematic is lighting, but before you start throwing them up all over your set, you're going to need a nice, sturdy, and safe place to mount them. Enter the light stand, one of the most foundational tools of cinematography. However, how do you know if your light stand is any good?
Kevin Anson of Basic Filmmaker goes over a few pros and cons of different quality stands, which will hopefully help you figure out if you want to stick with the flimsy one you got with your lighting kit or if you should splurge and get yourself a herculean C-stand.
Saving money is huge. Most no-budget filmmakers don't have the means to purchase the best, most high-quality gear, and this can cause a lot of issues down the line when stuff starts breaking or failing, turning your set into a pit of doom for both your crew and equipment.
So, one good approach is to go for the mid-level stuff. Get yourself a stand that isn't the absolute cream of the crop, but don't skimp too much and buy garbage—both will eventually save you some money, either by paying out less upfront or by avoiding having to replace broken gear later on.
However, I do want to make a bit of a case for cheap light stands: they might be fine. I know, I know—putting a heavy light on a puny ass light stand is a huge hazard and could fall over and smack someone in the dome. I get it. But what if your lights aren't super heavy? What if they're small, inexpensive LED panels?
These LED units tend to be 1.) cheap, 2.) light, 3.) powerful, and 4.) super portable. Oh, and also, 5.) awesome. Putting a light that weighs give or take a pound isn't going to cause a whole lot of stress on your cheap kit light stand...and even if your light does fall over, it's not going to take somebody out or break your light. (Even if it does break, it'll only set you back $35 - $100, depending on the LED panel you get.)
If you are using studio lights that are heavy and expensive, do not use a cheap, poorly-made stand. Get yourself a decent light stand or C-stand. Yeah, the upfront cost sucks, but the peace of mind of knowing your set is safe and secure is well worth it.