The world of video is an exciting one filled with fancy toys, interesting tech, and endless opportunities to explore new tools that will make you and your work better. But will they?
Your love of gear is probably a rollercoaster ride of emotions. You do the research, decide to rent or buy, and when it’s finally in your hands you’re thrilled. Until you lean too far and overvalue its magical powers. Suddenly, your projects are filled with drone footage, slider shots, slow motion but not much narrative substance.
"There’s a reason why buying gear is easier than telling great stories. Stories require time, effort and vision. Gear only requires a credit card."
Let’s layout a simple framework before clicking ‘buy’ on your online cart. Here are some fundamental things we talk about before pulling the trigger.
What’s my brand?
Every decision should help you and your organization build a brand. Your gear is an important part of that brand. But remember you're selling your brand to prospective clients, not your gear.
Should I rent or buy?
Be honest with yourself. If you’re only going to use something a few times, you should just rent it. If it’s a big purchase, rent it first and make sure you love it. Once you know it’s a great fit and the economics make sense, then you’re good to pull the trigger.
Is it a fad?
When drone cameras came out a few years ago every videographer had to have one. Subsequently every video you saw had drone footage in it. That’s not the mark of a great storyteller. Don’t follow trends if they don’t help you build your brand and tell better stories.
What other benefits does it offer?
Our first lighting kit was $200. It was a great deal but it was clunky, a pain to set up, and didn’t look professional. When we finally could afford a Kino Flo, we were thrilled with the speed of our set-up and the quality of our set. It didn’t magically teach us how to create better light. But it’s super reliable and fast so we can focus on telling the story.
What’s my story?
Make this promise to yourself now: “I will not use my new gear as a crutch. I will only use its powers if it helps tell the story better.” When you buy a new piece of equipment, you’ll be inclined to overuse it. In order to avoid this, pay extra close attention to your gear decisions during pre-production.
How can I tell a better story?
If you’re truly dedicated to telling better stories, the right financial investment might not be better gear. On your next project, consider investing in better pre-production, scripts, crew, talent, storyboards, locations, set decorations, actors, or anything else you can think up. You're ultimately responsible for putting something special in front of your gear.
If you want to tell better stories and make incredible videos, stop spending your time researching gear. Try this instead: focus on developing creative ideas with a clear vision. If you don’t have the gear you need to execute it, that’s the time to do your research.
Gear is important and you should budget for it every year. But it’s the salt and pepper of the filmmaking recipe. The story is your steak.Have a question or need consulting on this topic?
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