Breaking Into The Video Production Industry Doesn’t Mean You Have To Break The Bank

9:56 AM , 0 Comments

So – you want to get into the video production business but you don’t have any equipment yet. That can be a problem. Sure, if you manage to get a steady job with a production company you can likely use their gear, but you’re going to have to start as a PA not a shooter. As a freelancer you’re probably going to need your own gear. So how much money should you spend? What should you buy to get started? That’s a tough one. Unless you’re independently wealthy, you’re going to have to start small if you don’t want to go into debt. And trust me, you don’twant to go into debt. Buying equipment on credit sets you up for failure because you’re just getting started and have no job security. Lucky for you we live in a digital age where you can get an amazing picture with very little money. For instance if you’re just starting out you should probably start by developing your interview skills. That means getting perfect focus on your subject, nice soft three point lighting and perfect sound. You don’t need a fancy tripod to shoot something like that. You don’t even need expensive lights. If I were starting out today I would probably start with a kit like this: Canon t3i: $499 Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens: $100 Generic 3 light kit with umbrellas and stands: $150 Zoom H1 recorder: $100 Audio Technica Wired Lavaliere Mic: $20 So for under $900 you can have a basic interview kit. Even less if you buy used or DIY some of it. When you’re just getting started you should be able to make that up in 2-3 shoots (once you get paying shoots that is). True, you’ll need to buy a few other bits and pieces like a tripod (get a junk tripod! It doesn’t need to move for an interview!) and memory cards, possibly editing software, but for less than a grand you’ll be up and running. I get it. You’re thinking, “If only I had x camera or x tripod or x lights I could get some serious work!”. Well guess what! It doesn’t quite work like that. My first camera was a Canon GL2. A standard def camera that recorded to mini DV tape. Bought it used. Wasn’t the best camera in the world, but when you got enough light into the lens the picture looked pretty stinkin’ good. I used really generic lights, too. It was more about technique: making the best of what I had while trying to emulate the pros. When I proved I knew what I was doing I got better paying jobs. Eventually I could afford better equipment as I developed my eye and technique. Just Rent It Guess what? There’s a kicker. You don’t have to buy equipment! If you live near any big city, chances are there’s a rental house near by that you can get your gear from. Just make sure that the gear you’re renting is included in your fee for the shoot. Don’t have a rental house near by? Check out some of the great online rental houses that ship directly to you like Lens Pro to Go. Conclusion The key here is to work with what you have while developing your technique and gaining experience. Don’t have any equipment? Okay, so put a few bucks into equipment, but don’t buy anything you can’t afford. It’s not worth going into debt. Keep in mind that I’ve shot interviews with crappy camcorders and a $100 audio recorder. If done right, it can still look and sound great.


Josh is an independent DP, editor and motion graphics designer in Austin, TX. You can read more about him and check out his work at


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