Low-Budget Documentary Filmmaking Gear Check-List
One of the most exciting aspects of filmmaking is putting together your video production equipment package.
Keep in mind, there is no "one size fits all" equipment package for everyone since there are so many variables (budget, type of project, locations, pro vs amateur, etc), so what we have tried to do on this page is cover some basic gear you may want to consider.
Below is a video production equipment list for the beginner filmmaker.
This is simply a starter guide in your search for some basic filmmaking gear.
A great place to start is with a video camera and build from there.
A video camera is the centerpiece of your filmmaking gear package. What camera you choose depends on your budget, the type of shooting you're doing (static, stealth, run-and-gun, etc.) and where you plan to showcase your film (web-only, theater, broadcast, etc). You can shoot a documentary on anything from your iPhone to a DSLR to a top of line digital cinema camera such as the Red Epic. Whatever camera you choose, make sure you capture excellent audio. Click here for help on how to choose a video camera.
You only really need a lighting kit if you're planning to do a lot of shooting inside. Creating a well lit scene usually involves a 3-way lighting set-up.
Good lighting doesn't have to be expensive. Learn more about various lighting techniques.
Sure, you can use a "wired mic" which is a bit less expensive, but I wouldn't go on a documentary shoot without my wireless microphone. Unless you have an audio person who can hold a boom mic, this is the next best thing providing tons of flexibility for walk-and-talk interviews with your subjects.
Recommended wireless mic system (this is what we own): Sennheiser EW 112P
Or try the less expensive and popular Rode RodeLink Wireless System.
If you're ready to take your filmmaking up a notch, try some of these specialty video production equipment items to get those cool Hollywood-looking shots.
Do you already have video production equipment? Share what you've learned! Include your own equipment list here and include a detailed review of each piece of gear (how you use it, how you like it, etc).
Gear Kit For One-Man Documentary Film Crew (VIDEO) - Bob Krist is a longtime National Geographic freelance photojournalist who shares his one-man documentary crew gear kit.
Gear List For Small-Budget Video and Documentary Productions - Jeff Nesmith, a Vietnam-based filmmaker, shares his gear list for small-medium budget productions...
Five Documentary Filmmakers Share Their Camera of Choice - At the Phoenix Film Festival (2018), 5 filmmakers shared "what matter most" when making a documentary and also their top choice of cameras...
Video Gear List For Singalila in the Himalaya Documentary: Filming in Remote and Extreme Conditions - George Thengummoottil shares his gear list for a 14 day trek and documentary shoot through the Himalayas.
Best Camera For Wedding Videography (VIDEO) - David Reynosa of Forestry Films goes through his favorite cameras to shoot his stunning wedding videos. He explains why the Canon C100 Mark II is his top camera of choice.
On The Road With Alex and Henry: Our Videography and Photography Gear List (VIDEO) - Alex Head and Henry Nathan have been shooting together since grade school. Learn what gear they use to shoot their gorgeous travel videos.
Canon 70D and Canon Rebel T5i - Low-Budget Documentary Gear List (VIDEO) - Filmmaker Brian Jenkins takes us behind the scenes of his documentary "Answering The Call".
Shooting Solo: A Low-Budget Filmmaker's Equipment List - Documentary Filmmaker Joseph East shares his barebones list of gear and how he used it to make his first feature length documentary.
Run & Gun Documentary Gear List (VIDEO) - Taylen Anderson is traveling to Honduras for a 9-day documentary shoot and shares his video and photography gear list, piece by piece.
Cinematic Documentary Gear List For (just over) $1,000 - British filmmaker Matt James Smith recommends a low-budget gear package that provides gorgeous cinematic results at an affordable cost.
Behind-the-Scenes | Shooting 6K in Guatemala: Our Gear List - Filmmaking adventurers Parker Walbeck and Carter Hogan fly high above the jungles of Guatemala to capture some stunning footage. Go behind the scenes and see how they did it.
Army Veteran Video Gear List - Alfred Cox is 42 years old retired army veteran who got into cinema as a way to help with PTSD and depression. He shares his production company's gear kit.
Filming Sports | How To Capture The Extreme Shots - Sebastian Montaz-Rosset grew up in the French Alps and captures some amazing and beautiful images. Watch his work and see what gear he uses.
Affordable Filmmaking Gear For Beginning Filmmakers (VIDEO) - B.L. Garrett spent hundreds of hours searching for filmmaking gear to make his first documentary. In this video, he shares his gear list and why he chose each item.
Interview With Filmmaker Jeffrey Farrell | IMAX Films, Documentaries, Feature Films - Jeffrey Farrell jumps out of airplanes, hangs off cliffs and dives into the oceans with his camera to get the most spectacular shots he can. Here's the gear he uses.
Recording Sound with a Zoom H6 and Rode NTG3 on a Movie Set - Justin Arbabi is working as the sound mixer on the set of the film Deadly Reunion and shares his low-budget audio set-up.
What's In My Camera Bag? (VIDEO) Documentary Filmmaker Michael Maroy shares what's in his camera bag and reviews the equipment along the way.
Video Production Equipment | Perspective After 4 Years Of Filming - Dan Banici takes a look back at his gear buying choices from the past four years and how they stood up to the reality and rigors of every day shooting.
Why I Bought The Canon 60D | My Gear List - Video producer and photographer Scott Umstattd shares why he bought the Canon 60D and provides his full equipment list.
Top 10 Lessons From A Newbie Filmmaker (plus gear list) - S'ambrosia Wasike and her husband run a small video production company in Kenya where they produce mini-documentaries, wedding videos and other short promos. Here are their top lessons learned and production gear list.
How To Make A Mini-Documentary - Tufts University Multimedia Producer Steffan Hacker walks us through how he makes mini-documentaries and the gear he uses to make it happen.
Diving & Rescue Documentary | Gear List by Tony DeRose - By day I'm an Instructional Designer, Technical Writer, and do voice-overs (inter-company). By night, I'm a member of a volunteer dive rescue unit.
My DSLR Rig For Documentary Shoot in Solomon Islands (VIDEO) - Documentary cameraman Olivier Cheneval is on-site in the Pacific and explains the specialty gear he's using for the shoot.
The Essential Video Gear List For Corporate Videos - The video team at Wistia shares their go-to video gear list to get a professional looking shot every time.
Video Production Gear List | Shooting A Web or TV Series - I am taking a round-the-world trip and will be filming a TV series (think parts unknown without the million dollar budget and crew). I will be traveling on a bicycle mostly...