It Ain’t the Gear, It’s the Storytelling…

A recent argument with some pretentious idiot on Amazon inspired this post.

The person in question went on about how a certain piece of gear was not suitable for any serious film at the Cannes Film Festival.

Yes, I know.  A completely moronic statement.

But the response to it is one I want to make sure I drive home here.

Filmmakers reading this, it is NOT about the gear.

A million dollars of the finest cameras, lens, mics, lights, etc. and so on will not make you a better filmmaker, will not be an open door into any film fest or distribution deal, in fact it will not even guarantee you’ll make a better film than someone armed with an iphone.   In fact it doesn’t even guarantee your film will see the light of day.

Really.  Not an opinion.  FACT.

And if you disagree, please, go get a job at Starbucks now (you’ll be working there soon enough) and spare us your monumental bores.

Filmmaking is about storytelling.

Sure, it doesn’t hurt to have a great looking film, or a great sounding film.  But the best looking film, the best sounding film in the world means NOTHING if the storytelling is mediocre.

And any filmmaker who knows what they’re doing can make a technically perfect film with minimal gear.  The DSLR/$200 mic and Zoom recorder package can make a better film that the million dollar package IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING.

Are you following me here: IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING.

If you somehow believe using a microphone that cost $10,000 is going to make a difference in getting your film shown, you’re sadly mistaken.  In fact, there are probably a dozen people who’ll see your film that might even notice the mostly unnoticeable difference.  And if you’re making your film to impress those twelve people, again, Starbucks awaits.

If you have a budget of any sort, put it into more shooting days, spend more time developing the script, or perhaps hire a name actor who might help you with distribution.  Certainly if the choice is between spending $25k on a camera rental package and no names, versus shooting on a DSLR and being able to afford a recognizable face for a few days of shooting, GO WITH THE NAME.  That might actually help you sell your film and get it into festivals.  That you shot on a RED, or recorded the sound with a Neumann mic will not.

Now, if you’ve got the money, and the RED or Alexa or 35mm film is the look you want for your film.  If it’s an aesthetic choice, then by all means, go for it.  But never for a second think that it’s going to get your film more attention.  A compelling and captivating story however will.

(Think about it this way, would you prefer to read a brilliant novel that was originally written with a #2 pencil on scraps of paper, or a boring, long-winded book originally written on the finest Macbook Pro Apple makes using the most expensive writing software ever developed?)

And I’m not saying go and shoot on your iPhone.  (I wrote this blog piece on what gear to go after.)  I’m saying better gear does not make you a better filmmaker.  Better storytelling, that’s really is the key.


1 Comment

Filed under filmmaking

One response to “It Ain’t the Gear, It’s the Storytelling…

  1. Frances Sherman

    Amen. AMEN!

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