7 DIY Filmmaking Projects You Can Complete in a Weekend
Expand your filmmaking skill set in only a weekend with these DIY tutorials for fun, creative, and relatively simple filmmaking projects.
For many filmmakers and videographers just starting out, the allure of investing in and buying tons of new gear is hard to resist. You need your camera, your lenses, your tripods, your monopods, your sliders, your 3-point lighting kit, your audio recorders, your 200-foot dolly tracks, etc.
But truth be told, you really don’t need that much — even if you’re beyond just starting off and have been in the game for years. Yes, there is always something else you may want, but if you focus on creative visual storytelling, you can pull off just about any shot or look without spending tons of money on fancy new gear.
An alternative is to skip the expensive retailers and simply make the gear yourself. There’s a wealth of resources for DIY filmmakers available online. All it takes is a free weekend, a trip to the hardware store, and a little time watching a tutorial.
So, if you have a free weekend, save one (or two or three) of these DIY tutorials, and give your inner craftsman a little TLC by building out one of these projects on your own.
1. DIY Balloon Light
In this video from Shutterstock Tutorials, we get a step-by-step breakdown of the materials, the process, and the use of a DIY balloon light — one of the biggest, brightest, softest (yet surprisingly cheapest) lights you could possibly make.
Here’s the full write-up on how to get started.
2. DIY Light Stand (Under $10)
One of the classic DIY projects is the $10 DIY light stand (outlined by the team at Film Riot), which helps you create a pretty-simple-yet-surprisingly-sturdy-and-helpful light stand. All you need is a drill and a quick trip to the hardware store for some PVC pipe to begin lighting your projects first thing Monday morning.
3. DIY Sidecar Mount
While most of these projects are useful for a variety of shots, this is one of the more specific and complex projects, so it may be a little trickier to tackle. That being said, you can use this to create some absolutely amazing car chases and action shots! And the best part is you don’t need to break the bank purchasing a highly expensive Russian Arm system. All you need is $50 in supplies. You can read the full article on the project here.
4. DIY Fig Rig
Another classic DIY weekend project involves following the advice of Indy Mogul and creating your very own DIY fig rig. A “fig rig” is basically another word for a camera gimbal. In this case, one shaped into a makeshift circle, which you hold like a steering wheel for run-and-gun filmmaking — and it’s much smoother and more controlled than typical handheld movement.
The entire process will cost you less than $30 (which is a fraction of what a name-brand fig rig or gimbal would cost).
5. DIY Lighting Plates
While this is technically more of a DIY technique than a single rig or project, it is actually a really cool project that you can use to create some truly impressive results. Plus, it’s just funny to watch Robbie run around being chased by a serial killer, silhouetted in a scene, that only uses one light! The technique is called “lighting in plates,” and it’s actually a “form of compositing that weaves several shots together to provide ample lighting coverage for the entire shot.”
You can read more on the process and how to pull it off here.
6. DIY Film Rain Machine (for under $15)
Here’s a fun one for those who don’t mind getting a little cold and wet. A DIY rain machine can be a simple-yet-effective tool, and it can you save thousands of dollars. In this demo by Tom Antos, we get a more sophisticated and reliable machine that works better than making a PA hold a water hose slightly out of frame.
Antos shares his DIY process, which should cost anywhere between $15 and $70, depending on the supplies you have available.
7. DIY Product Shot Setups
This DIY tutorial on shooting “cheap and easy” product shots is a fun weekend project that can add a whole commercial filmmaking skill set to your reel — as well as teach you how to use inexpensive lighting for expensive-looking styles. Looking at product materials, working with surfaces and sets, and creating interesting compositions are all part of the process outlined in this step-by-step article.
Take it a step further and dive into the lighting and production of product shots in this tutorial.
If none of these DIY projects pique your interest, here are some more DIY filmmaking resources to check out.