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Top Equipment Investments for Working Filmmakers

Zach Ramelan

When it comes to working as a filmmaker for a living, what are the best gear investments to make money rather than lose it? Here are a few must-haves.

As a freelance filmmaker, there’s nothing more daunting than investing in gear. When all is said and done, after purchasing all the accessories — from camera to tripod — you’re looking at a minimum price tag of 5K. Let’s face it, the laundry list of lenses, stabilizers, cameras, and additional accessories can easily break the bank — before you make a single dime. So, when it comes to working as a filmmaker for a living, what equipment should you invest in to make money, rather than lose it?

(A brief disclaimer: The list below is just my personal opinion. Each piece of equipment has been a solid investment for me. That being said, this list doesn’t disregard the value of other pieces gear on the market.) 

Let’s get into it.


Cameras

Honestly, we’re going to zip past this section. I know cameras are cool and fun to look at, but to be totally transparent, they’re the least of your worries. Lenses and lighting take your cinematic image so much further than the camera you use. Personally, I film on the Sony A7III, and it’s done wonders for me. My thoughts are if you buy a DSLR that’s come out within the last two to four years, you’re most likely getting something solid.


Lenses

You’ll need a lens, but which one?

My best ROI on any lens has been a telephoto 70-200 mm f/2.8.

Top Equipment Investments for Working Filmmakers — Canon Telephoto

Image via Canon.

This is dynamite for parties, weddings, corporate interviews, and just about any shoot requiring a “cinematic look.” If there’s one piece of gear that will make you money, this is the one to invest in.

The next lens on the list would be a decent wide angle. Anything from an eleven to sixteen or a sixteen to thirty-five will be perfect! Wide angles can get quite expensive but are really useful for capturing real estate video, event venue coverage, or even vlogging.


Stabilizers

Let’s rip off the band-aid. Do you get a gimbal or not? I say yes! This is the one piece of equipment that is a cinematic Swiss Army knife. A gimbal can produce a range of different shots from Steadicam- to slider-style. If you want to learn more, check out this video I made on gimbal movement:

If you’re looking at buying a gimbal I recommend the Ronin S.

Tripods

You need a tripod! They may be a prehistoric piece of gear but it’s a must for any filmmaker picking up gigs. They last forever and are total lifesavers for events, time lapses, and interview shoots.

Drones

You don’t need a drone, but they’re great pieces of gear that make money back! I’ve been hired time and time again because I own a drone and can capture unique footage on it.


Cover image via Zark Fatah.

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