11 DIY Filmmaking Tutorials FTW!
You’re about to embark on creating your very own Jurassic Park film and we’re super excited to see it. The problem is, all of your budget is tied up in those damn dinosaurs so what do you do? Well, you get your makers hat on and start building your own DIY filmmaking equipment. We’re big fans of just getting it done, so we’ve compiled a list of 11 of the best tutorials on YouTube to help you keep the budget low without compromising your style.
We’re not necessarily suggesting you always make your own equipment, far from it, there are some amazing companies out there providing gear of incredible quality. However, everyone is within a short drive of your local hardware store where you can go and get everything you need to save you and your films budget, a lot of money. Making your own gear means two things. First, you’ll save money, that’s obvious. Secondly, you’ll learn about that piece of equipment. You’ll know exactly what and how that jib or slider or shoulder mount works, because you’ve made one. So the next time you’re on location at 3am and you break something, you can fix it!
1. Build a DIY Steadicam
A steadicam is here to solve a problem, what problem is that you ask? Well, let me tell you. When you hold a camera in your hands, the camera bounces around and could ruin your shot. Especially if you’re filming a scene that involves any kind of movement. Enter camera stabalisation (or camera counter balance) to save the day and make your shot smooth. DIY Filmmaking wouldn’t be filmmaking without a steadicam. Many people (including us) have tried and failed to make a steadicam that actually works. In this tutorial, I Like To Make Stuff shows us how to create a relatively cheap steadicam that can give you a great alternative to some of the more professional stabalisation brands out there…like steadicam.
2. Making a Fake Rain Machine
Every time you go to make a film, you have to think about logistics. It’s all very well having a shot where your protagonist is seemingly doomed to fail, where they’ve lost everyone around them and the it’s literally pouring rain down on them. What if you live in Spain? Or LA? Or anywhere other than England where you can’t guarantee rain? Do you change the shot or do you wait for rain? Both of those scenarios are not ideal, so in this tutorial, Tom Antos will show you exactly how to get that fake rain, no matter where you live.
3. How to make a Snorricam
A snorri…what? A Snorricam is what gives you that shot that’s been made iconic in films like Requiem for a Dream, Wolf of Wall Street, 28 Weeks Later, Armageddon and more. A snorricam allows you to film the actors face whilst they are moving around a set. It is a device that is rigged to the actors body with the camera facing their face. It allows the actor to move freely around whilst maintaining the same framing in the shot of the actors face. Okay, so now we know what it is, how do you make this fancy filming equipment on a budget? This tutorial will show you exactly how to make one with nothing more than a tripod and a couple of belts. This is DIY filmmaking at it’s finest.
4. Make a Camera Slider for $10!
That’s right, ten whole dollars, this one might just break the bank. Film Riot shared this tutorial a few years ago now but it is still very relevant. It just goes to show that despite all of the new technology and materials, better gear is always just better gear. If you need a slider, you need it to do one job, get a lovely sliding shot. Sure, it’s nice to be able to control it remotely or turn it upside down to follow a diver jumping off a mountain but really, let’s just get the shot. You won’t need a lot of technical know how or DIY filmmaking abilities here, it’s a simple and concise way to build a slider to get that shot you need whilst saving money to buy your crew some doughnuts, because they’re awesome.
5. Build a DIY Camera Jib
Have you ever wondered how, before drones, people got those awesome sweeping shots that start above the trees and slowly move down to reveal our actors walking along? No? Alright, Mr. Know-It-All. Well, for those of you who don’t know, the camera crew will have used a jib. Albeit the jib in high budget productions will have involved cranes and I assume, some kind of magic. Anyway, to build your own jib is relatively straightforward. This tutorial from Chungdha shows you how to build a jib that will help you get those sweeping shots for relatively little money. The job in the tutorial is quite small but you can take principles and apply it to a much bigger jib.
6. DIY Microphone Windscreen
Gareth Edwards, whilst making his first feature ‘Monsters’ said that he could get away with a bad image but not bad sound. This guy had an insanely quick rise in the film industry. He directed a short film at the London Sci-Fi short film competition, then made Monsters, then Godzilla and now he’s in post on Star Wars: Rogue One. So, we think you should probably listen to him and get your sound right. Fortunately, it’s simply to get your sound right, especially with this short tutorial from Forrest Trenaman on making a microphone windscreen or, a a ‘dead cat’ as it’s lovingly referred to in the industry,
7. Make a GoPro Chest Mount
If you’re reading this post, the chances are that you don’t have a huge budget. This also means that you may be filming with whatever camera you can get your hands on, like a GoPro. GoPro’s are an incredibly versatile bit of kit that you can use to film just about anything so they’re great for indie filmmakers to use. To make your GoPro even better, you’re going to want a chest mount, especially if you’re filming extreme sports by yourself. The problem is, like any popular brand, this stuff can be expensive! So make your own, like Kyle Martin shows you in this tutorial.
8. Affordable Underwater Camera Rig
Fancy a swim? Wouldn’t it be great to take your camera underwater and film the coral, the fish, that shopping trolley that’s somehow made it into the middle of the lake? Well, now you can! Okay, so we know you can just use a GoPro or a whole host of other cameras that work underwater these days. But where’s the fun in that? Plus, you might have a DSLR and that will not like the water so let’s add something a little unique to our DIY filmmaking arsenal. This Indy Mogul tutorial will show you how to quickly put together a rig that will allow you to take your camera underwater with you. This cheap and quick build is perfect for you to use underwater and all the materials can be gathered down at your local hardware store. Lovely stuff.
9. Car Mount Build
For most people in the DIY filmmaking world, the only limitation is their budget. It’s certainly not your imagination, otherwise why would you be a filmmaker? And why would you be reading a post about building your own DSLR car mount out of suction cups and a bit of plastic? A low budget means you have to be creative with not only you gear but your locations too and this means you’ve more than likely thought about shooting in a car. The logistics of doing that though, aren’t exactly straight forward. That is, unless you build a car mount out of these fancy suction cups to give you ultimate control over your shots. It’s an awesome tool to have with you, so go build one…
10. How to Make a Shoulder Mount
What DIY filmmaking list would be complete without a tutorial on how to make a shoulder mount? Film Riot is great for cheap and quick DIY film gear tutorials, this one in particular shows you how to create a shoulder mount that will last you a long time. Even if it doesn’t last a long time, it doesn’t matter…it cost’s just $25 to build and that’s not bad at all. A shoulder mount is something that every filmmaker should have, of course it would be nice to have a nice shiny new one, but that could set you back thousands.
11. DIY Lighting on the Cheap
You have to be able to see your film. Sounds simple, right? That’s because it is simple, in principle. Like everything on this list lights can be a pricey addition to your filmmaking arsenal. Unless, that is, you are a creative and frugal filmmaker. This short tutorial from TechyJess goes into how to create simple lights that actually works pretty well. You’ll be able to make these lights for under $20 each, so let’s make ten of them! Calm down. This tutorial is probably more for indoor lighting, but you can take more away from this tutorial than just building these exact lights. You could use your imagination and create some magical lighting using these techniques, we’re thinking dream sequences from sitcoms.
All The Gear, No Idea!
It’s great to have all of this filming equipment with you on set and it’s even better to know you can build everything on this list for probably less than one pro Jib would cost. But you have to remember to concentrate on what is important. These are all tools, this is equipment that is here to enable you to create a vision of the film you set out to create. You should absolutely not just build all this stuff and forget about story or lighting or cinematography or any of the other million elements that make a great film.
We think, it’s always worth trying to save money on your gear and invest more resources into the one tool that you can get the most out of on set, your actors. It’s all very well having the best gear but until you can write a script that is relateable and you can work with your cast and crew to get the best out of them, it doesn’t matter what gear you have.
Hopefully this has helped a few of you awesome filmmakers save a few pennies on that budget so the wrap party can be more than 1 can of beer shared between a crew of 100. Let us know your favorite DIY filmmaking tips and tutorials in the comments below!