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Starting a small videography/production business

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Justin Burt
Starting a small videography/production business
on Oct 24, 2013 at 1:17:08 am

So I recently decided to quit my part time job and pursue my dream of working as a freelance videographer. I'm a college student and so far I've learned that the pay is beyond what I could have ever asked for, not to mention I'm having a blast making connections with new people and doing what I love.

That being said, I need to start expanding my arsenal of filming equipment. At the moment, the majority of my work has consisted of commercials for local businesses, church videos, promotional material, etc. I'd like to possibly increase my range of abilities to include event and wedding videography as well as improve the overall quality of my work, which entails purchasing some new equipment.

My question is, what is a good list of must-have equipment for an intermediate-level freelance film artist?

I currently own:
-Canon Rebel t3i with a Canon 50mm prime lens (thinking of purchasing a zoom lens soon)
-FancierStudio 270A Pro Tripod with Fluid Head
-DSLR Flycam
-Tascam DR-40
-Audio-Technica ATR-6550 Shotgun Mic(Definitely need to upgrade)
-A Lavalier Mic
-Boom Pole
-Good Monitoring Headphones
-3 Point Lighting Kit
-A vest and backpack for carrying my equipment and easy-access
-5 in 1 reflector panel
-A large crate to hold all of my equipment

As a college student money is tight, but I realize that it's an investment that will pay off over time. I'd like to keep my total expenditures under $1500 for the time being, which means I'm not looking for the top of the line equipment. I just want the know the must-haves and possibly the best brands/models.


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George Goodman
Re: Starting a small videography/production business
on Oct 24, 2013 at 3:12:51 am

First off, don't overlook renting. You can bill this to the client and it's not too expensive. There are a lot of reasons to do this from a business perspective. Here's a pretty good article covering some of them:

That being said, it's definitely more fun to have your own gear. I'm guilty of buying more than I needed to because it's a hobby and not just a business.

I'd pick up a slider if I were you. That will bring your production value up a good bit. You can spend as much as you want on one, but I've found that with proper support (and a little ae stabilizing knowledge) the konova sliders are at a good price point for DSLR shooters.

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Justin Burt
Re: Starting a small videography/production business
on Oct 24, 2013 at 2:30:01 pm

Haha I agree it is more fun. Like I said, it feels like I'm building an arsenal - I really enjoy growing my collection of equipment.

I've been considering a slider for a while now, so I'll be sure to grab one to help me get some more creative shots!


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Don Brecht
Re: Starting a small videography/production business
on Sep 11, 2014 at 3:22:02 pm

I am in the exact same boat here... I graduated college with a tv, broadcasting and production degree 9.5 years ago!

I am finally looking to pull the trigger and get started in filming and editing! I literally have no equipment and looking to see where would be a good start point. I had just recently purchased a GoPro 3 cam and have the editing software. I want to just start doing small side jobs and or hobby type of videos/editing. But I dont know what to buy and or invest in....

I have been in talks with someone that is selling his "Production equipment". What are your thoughts with this camera:

Canon XH-A1 w/ lens cover and hard shell case
2 batteries w/ charger
Remote Control
Lens cleaning kit
Lavaliere microphone w/ hand held mic capability
On Camera, rechargeable light w/ sepia filter
Tripod (not pictured) adjustable head with level and adjustable legs

Just looking for some thoughts on this... And what I should spend and or expect to spend...?

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Guy McLoughlin
Re: Starting a small videography/production business
on Oct 24, 2013 at 4:28:54 pm

Rule #1 - Don't buy junk.

It's better to have fewer pieces of good equipment than lots of poor quality stuff.

Given your gear list, here are two items I would invest in...

Sennheiser MKE600 shotgun mic, which costs about $330, has very good sound, and can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 zoom lens, which can be bought new or used in the $350-500 range. This lens is sharp, constant aperture, and is fast for a zoom lens.

A field monitor, to get a better idea of what you are shooting...

Marshall M-CT7 7" Monitor with Canon LP-E6 Plate : $260

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Tyler Grutsch
Re: Starting a small videography/production business
on Oct 24, 2013 at 5:47:10 pm

My advice would be figure out what your market will support and what equipment you need to make money. For example:, there's no sense in buying a 4K camera when your clients don't even care if it's HD.

Also camera and audio equipment changes quite a bit over the years, buy something that is going to last. C-Stands have been around forever and will continue to be a tool used in the TV & Film market.

Best of luck.

Tyler Grutsch
Wise Foley Entertainment
Missoula, MT

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Al Bergstein
Re: Starting a small videography/production business
on Oct 26, 2013 at 5:23:50 pm

All good advice. Rentals if you are near a city that has one. Also leasing. I was able to use the Canon lease program after I had some track record. This allows you to treat the outlay of money as a deductable expense immediately, and keeps the total amount of the cost in your pocket as long as possible. With cameras changing all the time buy the lenses and lease or rent the bodies. I ended up with a C100 which I would *highly* recommend as the tool to shoot for . I have used almost all the Canon DSLRs over the last 4 years, along with their xf105 and 305 camcorders. All great tools but the C100 is just amazing. My go to camera now, though I have others that are just as "good". The ability to use WideDR and C Log allows you to shoot a most amazing range of exposure. While the BMCC is liked by folks I know, I like the complete shooters package of the C100 and the like.

Good luck! It's a fun life if you can make it work for you. I ran my own studio until I was 30, when I moved into another line of work, and I've been back doing it now for four years. What I know now that I didn't know then was that people who are properly capitalized (have a bankroll behind them) are much more likely to succeed than those that don't....(G)


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Pablo Aura
Re: Starting a small videography/production business
on Nov 1, 2013 at 3:44:42 am

Hi Burt!,

First of all congratulations on taking the step to become a freelance videographer. From what I see you are growing your business and have already a good amount of equipment you can work with. Of course there is always more and more stuff you could buy, but if I were you I'd probably will go for:

- A Rig to mount rods, follow focus and mattebox with NDs and ND Grads, your ability to do more filmic shots will increase dramatically if you can pull the focus properly, control the depth of field and grad the sky in a wide shot.

- A zoom is definitely a must for event videography, I'd go first for a stabilized one.

- A wide angle, your clients will love some 14mm shots

- A second camera body. Always handy to make several angles for greater coverage and two camera editing in conferences, speeches, concerts, plays, etc.

the list is endless isn't it?

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Hal Landen
Re: Starting a small videography/production business
on Feb 24, 2016 at 4:11:55 pm

We all want to own the toys. Some of them will make you more money. But don't forget about marketing. Website, SEO, direct mail, publicity and advertising. Marketing brings in the jobs so it's pretty important.

<a href="">Professional Producer Course</a>

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