In one of our previous articles, 6 Intangible Essentials To Become A Successful Filmmaker, we talked about the must have intangibles of filmmaking. Now we’re getting into the mandatory tangible essentials to filmmaking. In this article we discuss 6 Essential Must Have Equipment For The Independent Filmmaker. Without these it’ll be an uphill battle to even start making your film. May we even say, don’t start your film until you can check off every must have on the forthcoming list. The exception is if you’re making a silent film, then you’ll only need three out of the six must haves. Can you guess what they are? No need to. Read on and find out.


ESSENTIAL NUMBER 1: You need a camera! Without it all you’d have is sound. That’s radio. A camera is a mandatory and should be chosen carefully to meet the needs not only of your film, but also of your budget. Fortunately DSLR cameras have come to avail filmmakers from the burden of renting cameras from equipment houses for hundreds of dollars a day.


It’s not an easy selection to make, but if you’ve decided on purchasing a digital camera we suggest you research it online and also watch YouTube videos for reviews and information on it. Go on YouTube and type in on the search bar the camera that you’re interested in and plenty of videos will come up for you to watch and learn.

Available on Amazon, check out the Canon EOS 80 and the Nikon D7500. Please note these cameras are priced by Amazon and are body only prices. You can easily select a zoom lens to be included with your camera under “style”.


ESSENTIAL NUMBER 2: You need an external memory card! Unless your camera records to one of your cloud accounts this is optional for you. However, we still recommended. Murphy’s Law says, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Be prepared. Save to your memory card, the cloud and then back them up to a hard drive or two.

The amount of memory your card can store is also important. You don’t want to be shooting and not have enough memory to complete your shoot or have your camera turn off on you in the middle of the shoot because your card ran out of memory space.


With that said it’s helpful that many of DSLR cameras now come with double memory card slots. When one runs out of space recording can commence on the other.

Check out the following memory cards available on Amazon: 32GB card by Sandisk and this 64GB card also by Sandisk.



Check out Amazon’s offer for cloud services, Amazon Drive. It comes with impressive features and not to mention an impressive free three month trial.

PS: You’ll also need a memory card for ESSENTIAL NUMBER 4.


ESSENTIAL NUMBER 3: You need a tripod! A tripod will do wonders to make you shots look professional and not amateurish, unless of course you’re going for that…but we wouldn’t know why. Okay, we admit, when done appropriately hand held shots are the bomb. But a lot of times directors don’t know when it’s appropriate to go with handheld shots. As the saying goes: It’s not breaking the rules when you don’t know the rules.

Essential things to consider when purchasing a tripod are, smoothness of ball joints (for pan shot, tilting shot, etc), maximum camera weight it can hold, weight of the tripod (for stability), how high and/or low it can be set, among others.


Look, playing by the rules involves you having and using a tripod. Therefore, get one! Break the rules, once you know what they are, not before.

Available on Amazon, a basic tripod may be all you’ll need or may be your needs require a professional one.


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ESSENTIAL NUMBER 4: You need a sound recorder! Your camera has a sound recorder, but it’s not good enough. May we say, it’s not good at all! Now that you have the camera and tripod, don’t sell yourself short and not get you a sound recorder. Great images and terrible sound is like eating spaghetti with a knife, it’s going to get complicated.


Zoom makes popular sound recorders and they’re also available on Amazon: the Zoom ZH1 H1 Handy Digital Portable Recorder and the Zoom H6 Six-Track Portable Recorder.



ESSENTIAL NUMBER 5: You need a shotgun microphone and/or lavaliere mic! Again, your camera comes equipment with an internal mic, but we’ve already stated, it’s no good if you’re looking to get professional results.

And that’s no sweat, professional sound results are attainable so long as you have the right microphone/lavaliere mic and you learn how to use them.


A shotgun mic may be all you need or a lavaliere may be all you need. Depending on the necessities of your shoot you may even need both. Evaluate and consider based on your needs and budget.

Check out the following highly reviewed shotgun mic and highly reviewed lavaliere mic, available on Amazon.



ESSENTIAL NUMBER 6: You need headphones! You need to hear what you’re recording. You need to hear if the noise in the distance is being picked up by your mic. Is there a refrigerator or AC in the next room or in the distance running and it’s being picked up by your mic? Well, without a microphone you’ll never know. Buy a microphone and know.


We don’t recommend an expensive pair of headphones. However, we do recommend over your ear headphones; to cancel out the noise outside of your ears. Check out these highly reviewed headphone by Mpow, also on Amazon.




You need lighting! However, it’s a topic we can dedicate a whole separate article to. But what we’ll say is this, if you don’t have lights, use natural lighting. That is, shoot outside. Use the sunlight to your advantage. However avoid shooting when the sun is too intense. But if you must, make sure your camera is properly adjusted or that you have screens, shades, etc. See why we said it’s a whole separate article?


If you must shoot indoors and you have no lighting, shoot by a window. The sunlight might be sufficient to bail you out.

This is a basic lighting kit that is highly purchased and reviewed on Amazon that can be helpful depending on your needs.




We hope this 6 Essential Must Have Equipment For The Independent Filmmaker article was helpful to you. We recommend you check out our recommendations but certainly do additional research until you feel comfortable with your decision. Invest proportionately. Do remember, price doesn’t necessarily equate to high or low quality. It’s about your needs and your ability to properly use the equipment your purchase.

Remember, making your film is of high importance…to you and we totally get it. After all, we’re here for independent filmmakers. But remember the wise words of Alfred Hitchcock to Hollywood powerhouse actress Ingrid Bergman when she became frenzied, “It’s only a movie.”



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