How To Get Pro Audio Working As a Solo Filmmaker

by Ben

Question: There are often situations where I am forced to do the filming alone. Do you have any tips for getting great sound while you also are focusing on filming beautiful visuals? Is it possible to direct it while you are also focusing on sound and visuals.

Desktop Documentaries | Answer
By Faith Fuller

Hi Ben, great question. This is a very common scenario for the budget filmmaker! It is absolutely possible to work as a one-person crew. Is it ideal? No. Is it possible to get professional results? Absolutely.

I have worked as a one-person-crew on HUNDREDS of shoots. The biggest aggravation is during interviews when you are simultaneously trying to be attentive to the interviewee and stay engaged with the conversation while at the same time wearing the headphones monitoring the sound quality and trying to keep the camera angle correct as people tend to move around as they talk. As I said, not ideal, but it can work.

DSLR's have been the go-to camera for the budget filmmaker, however, it's honestly not the best choice for a one-person film crew. Why? To get professional audio, a typical set-up is to record the audio into a separate external recording device such as the Zoom H5. This creates a whole other piece of equipment to think about & monitor on top of the video recorder. Again, not impossible and MANY filmmakers do it, but personally, I prefer an "all in one" set-up to keep things as simple as possible. So for example, pairing up a camera such as the Panasonic HC-X1000 with the Sennheiser EW 112P Wireless Lav system would provide great results.

For audio, here's what I recommend:

For interviews: Sennheiser EW 112P Wireless Lav system OR a wired lav such as the Sony ECM-44 Lavalier Mic connecting directly in the camera.

For nat sound and spur of the moment interviews, a shotgun mic such as the Rode NTG2 connected directly to the camera via XLR cable. (An XLR connection is KEY to getting top notch audio).

For additional inspiration, here's a low-budget (DSLR) documentary gear list from Joseph East who often worked as a one-person film crew for his documentary I WILL DANCE.

Other resources and articles you may enjoy:
Anyone else have experience with shooting as a one-person crew? Please share your thoughts and insights below.

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