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Monday, March 06, 2006

What you'll need to make a film: Part 1 - Camera

Bismillah ar-Rahmaan ar-Raheem,

When I first wanted to start Ummah Films, all I knew is that I wanted to make films for the Ummah.  I had no idea what type of equipment I needed to  buy or how to make films.  Anyways, if I had some advise, it would have helped me save a lot of time and research.  I’m going to break down what I have learned in a series of posts on this blog.  This is the same advise I would give myself if I could go back in time so save yourself a lot of time and research and check out this series.  Today, we are going to cover the camera.
The most compelling reason not to buy a camera, if you're just getting started or you want to write/produce/direct is that there are a lot of people out there with cameras, professionals even, who would be happy to work on your project if it is any good. If it's not any good, why do you want to shoot it? They are working on boring commercial/corporate/industrial projects that holds little creative interest to them. Bring them your project and you might be able to get them, and their camera, on board.
That's not to say that buying a camera isn't smart. If you have an inclination towards camera operation and you are part of a filmmaking group light on techs, it would be a great way to log a lot of experience. However, don't let the camera be another obstacle to keep you from making movies
Making a film takes a lot of effort.  Assuming you have a crew, or at least a bunch of people that are as motivated as you are to make a film, start off with writing a script.  The script is tougher than you think.  You want it to be written in the standard format that the industry uses (Final Draft is a great software for this).  Check this link out for some sample scripts.  By finishing your script, it will give you an idea of how motivated you are in making a film.  You’ll quickly learn if it was just a temporary motivated idea or if its something you are motivated enough to do.
When you are ready to buy a camera, I suggest you look into the Panasonic DVX100, Canon XL1 or XL2.  They don’t make the XL1 anymore but you can still find it on Ebay or used video stores for about $2,000.00 or less.  The Canon XL2 cost about $5,000.00 but you can buy it off Ebay for about $4,000.  You can compare the Panasonic DVX100 & Canon XL2 here.  The Canon GL2 is also a less expensive solution and is something between the handheld miniDV camcorders and the XL2.  It’s a good solution for a low-budget movie.  Once again, don’t let your camera be your obstacle.
I did my research and choose the Canon XL2.  Check out this video on what the XL2 can do.  

Finally, I thought you may be interested in seeing the list of:
films that were filmed using the XL1 and list of films that were filmed using the XL2.
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