I just came across a few photos of me filming and thought that these pictures could give somebody a good idea of how simple filmmaking really is. As you can see, there is no film crew on location with me. A video camera, a decent microphone and a computer along with a good story is all you need to pack a movie theater if you are willing to learn. The top photo was my first day filming on my first feature DIY documentary. I learned something very important that day. You can see in the photo on top that I have the standard foam mic cover on the microphone. When I got back to my home office that night where I edit, I heard an annoying wind sound in some of the footage that I filmed. So I went to the B&H website and ordered a Rycote Softie Windscreen. You can see the new windscreen on the photo below. It cost close to a hundred bucks, but it was the best hundred dollars I spent on the whole documentary. Keep that in mind if you are doing a lot of outdoor filming on your doc.
Incase you are wondering, the camera I am using in these photos is a Sony HVR-Z7U that costs around $5,000. Please understand that you do not need an expensive camera to take high quality video. It was an older camera but it had great HD quality and XLR inputs for a high end microphone. And believe it or not I shot my entire doc of about 120 hours on digital HDV mini tapes.
More important then the camera, I used a MKH 8060 Sennheiser shotgun mic. It was expensive, it cost about $1200, but it records amazing sound. If you can’t go that high, look at Sennheiser’s lower end shotgun mics that run between $200-$400 and always remember sound is very important. I remember when I talked to the legendary documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles after he watched a rough cut of the film he said to me…”before we talk about the movie, I want you to know that the sound on this film is fantastic.” A couple of years later, Bill Jersey, another great cinema verite pioneer said pretty much the same thing.
I shot the entire film with that mic with great sound. I never had to stop a person to put a lavalier mic on them nor did I ever have a person holding a boom mic over their heads. This is what I’m talking about with this blog, simple filming that is unobtrusive but captures your story as truthfully as possible with high quality.