DIY Film Projects

6 Thoughts on DIY Projects

1) Pros that pooh-pooh DIY equipment would do well to remember that many now-standard pieces of film equipment (boompole, steadicam, etc.) were handmade innovations before they became mass-produced professional tools.

2) Sometimes building DIY projects is not more cost effective than spending the money on a professional tool. Example: A new C-stand costs less than $200. The amount of time and money it would take for me to build some inferior imitation out of pipe I bought at Home Depot simply isn’t worth it in the final cost-benefit analysis.

3) An inexpensive homemade tool that doesn’t get the job done is less of a bargain than an overpriced mass-produced tool that does get the job done.

4) Conversely, it’s simply ridiculous what some companies charge (and what some people will pay) for the most simple tools that could just as easily be homemade. If you know how to use a sewing machine, or know someone who does, you should not be paying $50 for a sandbag.

5) Judging from some of the projects I’ve seen made with DIY tools, the time spent building the tools would have been better spent working on the script. Of course, the same could be said of many Hollywood products produced with the best tools money can buy. As Agnes Varda once said, “The technical [aspects] and the frames are only a means to go through what has to be felt.”

6) Often, the biggest advantage to making homemade tools is not the savings in money — it’s that you can tailor the tools to your project’s specific needs. (Cf. the Crafter’s Manifesto.) And as long as making your own tools doesn’t distract from the real work — making films — the peripheral benefit of DIY is that the geeky fun had in making something is often, as Mastercard would say, priceless.

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Skateboard dolly: 1, 2, 3

Steadicam: 1, 2, 3, 4

Jib arm / Crane: 1, 2

Car mount: 1, 2, 3

Depth of Field reducer: 1, 2

Telecine for Super-8: 1, 2

Video Projector: 1, 2

Home Studio

Camcorder Shoulder Mount

Microphone Pop Filter

Microphone Windscreen

Sound Studio Acoustic Treatments

DIY “Fig Rig”

“Plywood” Skater

DVX-100 Zoom Control and Record Start-Stop

Pixelcam Modification for Baseband Video Output

CVS One-time Camcorder Hack

Panoramic lens thingy

Low-budget (not DIY) car mount

DIY Blue (or Green) Screen

Fake blood, bodies, and lacerations

Guerilla drive-in Instructable

DIY Projector Screen

MiniCrane You Already Own

DIY Rear Projection Screen

Microphone Desk Stand

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Note: I’m not necessarily advocating any of these projects, much less one plan over another. Besides these links, those that are interested should check out Nuts and Bolts Filmmaking by Dan Rahmel, which has a lot of DIY projects, as well as other useful information.Readers should also check out Make Magazine, which is a tremendous resource (and the way I found a number of the above links). Make’s website and blog is a virtual meeting-place for the DIY-set.

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