View Full Version : No Camera + No Money + No Time = Indie Filmmaker


Sacred-E-Cat_Pictures
10-28-2008, 12:47 AM
Hey Everybody,

I'm in a real jam. I'm scheduled to start shooting a feature film in six days, and the guy who owns the camera we were going to use has officially dropped off the face of the earth. Just disappeared. Won't return phone calls, won't respond to emails or online messages, no one can get a hold of him or has seen him in a week - he's basically disappeared completely, and taken the camera I was relying on to shoot with him.

So this puts me in the awkward position of being forced to make a move I wasn't planning on making for another six months or so - buying a camera. Unfortunately, I haven't budgeted for this, and we're out of money. However, my girlfriend has been amazing enough to offer to put the cost of a camera on her credit card (as mine has already been maxed out for this movie). So I have about $1,500 to spend on a camera; maybe up to $2,000, but no more than that, and if in any way possible, much less.

In the past I've worked with a Panasonic DVX-100A, a Canon XL2, and a couple other lower grade DV cameras. I'd like to purchase something that I've already used in the past, but I get that beggars can't choosers. I was also looking at Sony VX 2100s. But to be honest, I'm no camera expert, so I'm open to suggestions.

I've already accepted the fact that this is going to push back the start of filming, so buying online is probably the way to go; but I need to keep my time overages as low as possible, or I'm going to start losing actors. Also, since cost is such a major issue, I was considering purchasing something used. I've had friends who have gotten great deals on good cameras on eBay; but I've also heard absolute horror stories of people paying for a camera and then never getting it, or getting the camera, and having the heads be so dirty that the footage is unusable, etc.

So I guess my questions are this:
1. What camera could I get in my price range? I need to be able to shoot in at least 3CCD DV at 24p, and go 16:9 or 4:3.
2. Should I even be considering buying something used? If so, how many hours is too many to be logged on a camera before it's unsafe to buy? Is there any way to tell if the heads are in good order without seeing it?

EDIT: I've also got a line on a Panasonic AG-DVC60. Has anyone worked with this camera? Would you advise it?

Does anyone have any advice, or experience I could learn from?

Thanks for your help guys!

MelonDome
10-28-2008, 01:06 AM
Don't mean to change the subject, but just out of curiosity. You are maxing out all these credit cards to start filming. Have you figured out how you would be paying all of it back? Try and land a distribution deal?

It's a bad economy and I'd hate for you to bury yourself in debts.

ad2478
10-28-2008, 03:33 AM
First of all i want to say you are lucky to have a girl frind like that. Now i think even i should try to have an affair :D

lolzz


coming back towards the topic MELON is 100% right. I will suggest you to wait and work. And when you have some money then buy a CAM. You are lucky to have anice girl friend. ask her if she can earn too (if she is a part of your film by any means) But never put her or youself in trouble by using Credit Cards.I am posting 2 links. They wil lguide you alot about CAMS

Regards


The links are:



http://www.indietalk.com/showthread.php?t=12892

http://www.indietalk.com/showthread.php?t=13182



_____________________________
www.indie-filmmaking.blogspot.com

Sacred-E-Cat_Pictures
10-28-2008, 11:09 AM
Believe me, I understand how frightening that sounds, but the details are far more complex than I wanted to go into here. I'm not a hobbyist. I actually do have a plan for paying back the money beyond "hope the movie sells." I'm not maxing out anyone's credit card but my own, which honestly isn't a ton of money anyway. And I'm not doing it to start filming one movie, I'm starting my own production company after years of work for other people's. It's a business investment, complete with all the paperwork and legality that comes with running a corporation, and I'm bound and determined to make it successful at any cost.

I appreciate the concern, though. :)

Don't mean to change the subject, but just out of curiosity. You are maxing out all these credit cards to start filming. Have you figured out how you would be paying all of it back? Try and land a distribution deal?

It's a bad economy and I'd hate for you to bury yourself in debts.

spinner
10-28-2008, 01:30 PM
FIRST:
How etched in stone is your schedule? Can you move back the start date comfortably?

SECOND:
Who are you doing this for? I'm not asking for a name of a studio. Are you doing this for someone who is going to be pissed off if you don't start as scheduled or are you just in a position to start and you would prefer not to have to wait a year to start?

THIRD:
Are you in a position to find another filmmaker? Don't forget about Craigslist.com. If you can't pay anyone, say so. You might still find someone who has a clue as to how to shoot a film.

FOUR:
Do you have any friends who could lend you a camera? If you do, ask them to help. About buying a camera: remember that bhphotovideo.com does have a used department. You might find a DVX in good working order if you get it there. B&H has an excellent reputation, I got my camera from there new. (you didn't say whether or not you can operate a camera.) Besides, unless you are looking at the HD version of DVX, if you get the 100a or b, the price might drop down a little more.


Having to do something in a "frenzy" will stop you from thinking clearly, but Murphy's Law is a reality in independent filmmaking. The hard answer is that you may just have to table the project until everything works out again. That isn't always a bad thing. This way you can save up for the camera you need and eliminate this problem from happening again. Good Luck... :)

-- spinner :cool:

EDIT: look here for used in you price range:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=search&A=search&Q=&sb=bs%2Cupper%28ds%29&sq=asc&sortDrop=Brand%3A+A+to+Z&ac=&bsi=&bhs=t&ci=2935&shs=&at=Brand_Panasonic&basicSubmit=Submit

Sacred-E-Cat_Pictures
10-29-2008, 01:30 AM
Thanks everyone for the info. I won't dive into the extreme details of everything, but in short: I can push back shooting by 1 to 3 weeks at most, but waiting a year isn't even close to possible. I have a very talented and professional crew and network of actors, who know how to do there respective jobs very well. But I have all these affiliations because we were all working with another company that fell apart because they consistently over promised and under delivered. If people start seeing the same delays and excuses out of me, I'm going to lose them to L.A., and the money I'd have to spend to reclaim those human resources later would far exceed what I'd have to spend to acquire the necessary material ones now.

I don't mind making a risky investment in my business. That's what business owners do. And I can't ever expect investors to be willing to invest in me if I won't invest in myself first. I'm already 110% committed to the success of this endeavor at any cost; and I know that I will succeed eventually, because I'm willing to work harder and sacrifice more for it than anyone else. And rest assured, I wouldn't be investing any money (let alone someone else's) if I hadn't already evaluated and exhausted every other possible option. I'm not entering into this blindly, and I'm not seeking advice on restructuring my business plan; I'm seeking advice on how to best acquire the resources I need to move it forward.

Thanks again for everyone's advice - I honestly do appreciate it quite a bit. I know it's scary to see someone going on the forum saying "I'm spending every last dime I have on this" because you don't know if they know what they're getting themselves into, and I know everyone is looking out for everyone else's best interests. And The technical information I have gotten has been useful. Please keep it coming - I'm still looking for something along the lines of "I've shot with camera X, and it's a great value", or "there's no manual ND filter on Camera Y, so shooting in the high desert with it is tricky", or "Don't buy used camera equipment off eBay or you'll get dirty heads", etc., etc.

As always - your help is always very much appreciated :-)

ad2478
10-29-2008, 03:59 AM
Sacred-E-Cat_Pictures as you asked us

I'm seeking advice on how to best acquire the resources I need to move it forward.


well i dont think any one of us can give the answer. The reason is that you said you have already worked in the filed for some one else.SO we dont know exactly how much experience you are. Is it easy to guide anew comer like me. But it is very hard to guide a person who already has experience. Even an experienced person will find it difficult to guide another expericned person when the question is something like
"I'm seeking advice on how to best acquire the resources I need to move it forward".

But i can say one thing. If i would have been on your place i would have tried my level best to take a friend with me in all departments of filmmaking. It would have been better to have a strong helping hand with you as a partner (i am not talking about the financial partner). I mean a guy who can even handle the whole crew in your absence and continue the movie. A person with this type of ability will be really helpful to you. And one most important thing which i have learned from the GURUS of www.indietalk.com. And that is dont wait for the movie to get finished and then look for distribution. As you create some great gripping scenes make a website with synopsis and trailor and some other details and start looking for a distributor.


Regards


_____________________________
www.indie-filmmaking.blogspot.com

spinner
10-29-2008, 02:15 PM
Thanks everyone for the info. I won't dive into the extreme details of everything, but in short: I can push back shooting by 1 to 3 weeks at most, but waiting a year isn't even close to possible. I have a very talented and professional crew and network of actors, who know how to do there respective jobs very well. But I have all these affiliations because we were all working with another company that fell apart because they consistently over promised and under delivered. If people start seeing the same delays and excuses out of me, I'm going to lose them to L.A., and the money I'd have to spend to reclaim those human resources later would far exceed what I'd have to spend to acquire the necessary material ones now.

...okay, that's different from what I got from the first post. Taking into account what you say in this post, maybe it would be worth the risk to go ahead and buy the camera. The cost to rent the camera per day will probably add up to the price of the camera anyway. If you are in a situation like this, it is probably worth making the investment.


Thanks again for everyone's advice - I honestly do appreciate it quite a bit. I know it's scary to see someone going on the forum saying "I'm spending every last dime I have on this" because you don't know if they know what they're getting themselves into, and I know everyone is looking out for everyone else's best interests. And The technical information I have gotten has been useful. Please keep it coming...

...that's why, without giving out too many details, you have to be specific :D


I'm still looking for something along the lines of "I've shot with camera X, and it's a great value", or "there's no manual ND filter on Camera Y, so shooting in the high desert with it is tricky", or "Don't buy used camera equipment off eBay or you'll get dirty heads", etc., etc.

I have no experience with eBay. I cannot give you any advice here about prices, or quality, sorry.

I own a Panasonic DVX 100a and I love it. It is light and can be handled with or without a tripod, but if you own a camera and plan to make a movie with it, you NEED a fluid head tripod. Bogen Manfrotto. There are tripods that are more expensive, but Bogen Manfrotto is the workhorse of tripods. Look for a tripod system. The systems have everything you'll need including the fluid head (it will say fluid head) so that all you will need to do is set it up and go. Try not to spend much more than $300-350 on a tripod.

MANY people use the Canon XL series of camera. It is one of the two cameras that people were really trying to get their hands on for independent filmmaking because it also shoots in 24p. It is more versatile in that you can change the lenses in the front of the camera (I hope I am saying that right), however, with the added versatility comes a higher sticker price. My Panasonic was $2500. I think the Canon was twice that.

Neither camera I am suggesting are HD, but there are HD versions of both cameras and the price goes up considerably.

If you find a camera -- lets say the Pansonic -- if you find that camera with a price that seems too good to be true under the expected price, DO NOT GET IT. Sometimes what you will end up with is just the body of the camera which will not help your situation, or possibly get a counterfeit camera. Seriously, you need to go to B&H to get your camera. They do a very good job of delivering the camera safely.

There are others on this site who know about eBay or can advise you about your situation, I hope I helped alittle.

Good Luck! I hope you will let us know how things go...

-- spinner :cool:

Will Vincent
10-29-2008, 02:18 PM
Have you considered renting? You may be able to rent the gear you need for less than the cost of purchasing a camera, but that will depend on what your shooting schedule is.

Otherwise I'd suggest looking at the Canon HV20 or HV30, along with a beachtek adapter. You could purchase both the camera and adapter so you can use a nice XLR mic for less than 1500, and then you'd be able to shoot in HD. While it's probably not absolutely necessary to shoot HD, the extra resolution will give you more to work with in post, and even if the final format is intended to be standard definition it will look a bit nicer having started with a higher resolution image.

Both the HV20 and HV30 will do 24p, and have a native 16x9 cmos chip. :)

Will Vincent
10-29-2008, 02:18 PM
(duplicate post)

johnnynormal
10-29-2008, 10:16 PM
Look, fact is, you can probably hop on craigslist and find a guy with a good camera, say a panasonic ag-hvx 200, and give him 1000 bucks for his services. just go to legalzoom.com and get some legal paperwork saying he is paid by the day. right now, people want work and will work. i just dont agree with all this talk about not making the film, working first and all that jazz. i made my first feature for under 5K, and I am sure most will say it probably didn;t look good without even seeing it, but we have been nominated for best feature awards at a few festivals around so cal. if you have a good script, and about 5K, you can make this movie. just be a good businessman. i got a grip truck from a guy for 5 days, at 100 bucks a day, simply by writing him in a part. it can all be done. chin up man, and kick ass with it.