Your First Indie Film – Got G.A.S?

We have spent several weeks now working on our idea; we finally have a screenplay we are happy with. It has been drafted, reworked, rewritten and now it is all shiny and smells of roses. We are ready to make a film! Only problem is you have G.A.S!

What do you mean “I have gas?”

Not gas… G.A.S.

Gear Acquisition Syndrome.

I see it all the time, I even have friends who fall prey to this nefarious affliction. You want to do something artistic, something amazing! You have done all the research and trained yourself on all the theory about how to do it. 

You are ready, you are eager and you want all the newest and best toys to do the job!

What 4K camera should I use? What 6K camera should I use? What lenses should I get for a good effect? Do I need a speed booster? What cinema lights should I buy? Where can I find a digital clapper board? Should I buy Premiere Pro or Vegas? 

This is what I mean by Gear Acquisition Syndrome (G.A.S.) 

What is wrong with wanting the best equipment?

Nothing, nothing at all.

Have you ever used any of it before?


Just as I thought, the answer is no. A master painter did not start with the most expensive brushes. They learned with a cheap throw away brush and made a mess, as they got better they upgraded their tools. 

Ever heard the expression, “A bad workman always blames his tools?” This is your first film, this is your learning curve. This is where you make your mistake and hone your craft to a fine implement. Embrace it!

If you have a budget and can hire the best equipment and the operators that go with it, then ignore the rest of this blog. If you’re working on your first film with a zero budget, then keep reading.

So how do I combat G.A.S?

Take stock of what you already have.

Do you have a smart phone? Do you have friends who have a DSLR camera? Do you have a laptop or PC?

Most smart phones past the Samsung Galaxy S5 and iPhone 5, have amazing digital cameras. The only thing you do not have is adjustable lenses, but they do make adapters now for smart phone cameras.

The Film “Tangerine” was shot on iPhone 5; it entered Sundance in 2015 and made it big.

Give that a second… iPhone 5.

I knew some of the people involved in that movie and watched it go from a phone project, to a critically acclaimed movie.

So what do I NEED?

  • You need your digital camera (phone or DSLR).
  • You need something to record sound. (RODE make some good quality shotgun mics with phone attachments.)
  • You need some portable lights. (L.E.D flashlights can work.)
  • Food.

So let us look at those things.

Camera: The camera is obvious, you can’t make a film without a camera. The DSLR will give you options when it comes to lenses and shutter speeds.

Sound: A quality microphone that will plug into your camera is important. Sound can make or break your film so pay attention to it. RODE have some great options for a tight budget. A condenser microphone is what I normally use and it serves it’s purpose well.

Portable lighting: This does not need to be something super expensive, I have created cinematic effects using 3 high powered L.E.D flashlights I picked up at the dollar store. 

As long as you have a good understanding of how light behaves, any light source can be used effectively.

White card stock for reflectors, aluminum foil for sparkled lights or even a $2 shower curtain to use as a diffuse sheet for the light. The light source is not as important as your knowledge of light behavior.

Food: Actors love free food! Don’t skimp on your cast services. If you know how to cook some good home food, then cook. Make sure you take care of the people who are giving you their time, dollar store snacks is not a good meal and your actors will resent it even if they don’t tell you to your face.

That doesn’t seem too bad actually.

It really isn’t. Just because your budget is strained or non existent, doesn’t mean you cannot make that first film.

Your skills are what will be on display, getting that great lighting for your shots or capturing the actor’s emotion in a new way will set you apart from the millions of other indie filmmakers. I have seen films produced on the newest and best equipment go nowhere and as discussed earlier, a film made on iPhone 5 became a huge success.

It is not the equipment that makes or breaks your film. It is you.

So let go of the G.A.S and have confidence in yourself as a filmmaker.

Thank you for reading these blogs, if I can help inspire even one new filmmaker then it will be worth it.

Don’t forget to check out my website: 

Like Devil May Care Productions on Facebook. 

Once again, thank you for reading.

Jonathan Thompson – Devil May Care Productions