Cinema Perfecto Magazine - Issue 1

10/10's - Ten Lists of Ten Tips for Digital Filmakers & Professional Videographers

Ten Tips for Filmmaking & Videography Gear Maintenance
By Edward Boettcher

Mike Figgis, director of Leaving Las Vegas, Timecode, Hotel and other features, wrote an excellent book called "Digital Filmmaking"* where he laments that for some, "the more accessible a camera seems-the smaller it is, the more plastic its component parts, the less respect it will be given." He continues, "Don't have an attitude towards the equipment based on your preconceptions of its value" (Figgis, 9).

With that to inspire us, below is a list to get you started on the road to treating EVERY piece of your gear with reverence. These tips may be the difference between the project being completed or not, on time or not.

1. Start a repair bucket. If you ever get the opportunity to stroll around a large film studio, you may stumble upon a trailer or large space dedicated just to shop work. This is where the C-stands get repaired, cables re-soldered, knobs replaced, etc. Your repair bucket is your portable shop. Inside you will have such things as safety goggles, duct tape, two-part epoxy, various tools, isopropyl alcohol and other items and supplies for basic cleaning, safety and repair. As your production company grows, so should your repair bucket and your repair expertise.

2. Be your own property master. On a small production everyone is wearing multiple hats and gear can be ignored, possibly in unsafe spots where an opportunistic person might partake of your 2nd lens. As you unpack, ask yourself if it is safe from people, vehicles and the elements, without your needing to constantly mind it. As your backup, make sure you have the serial numbers written down, the original receipts stored, pictures of the gear and everything insured.

3. A place for everything, a case for everything. Two good practices are to have a secure, lockable place to store your new gear when you receive it and buying a case for the gear at the time of purchase. New camera=new camera case. If you can't afford cases, you can always afford the DIY approach: tape-reinforced cardboard boxes and thrift-store suitcases.

4. Non-standard cables travel with the gear. Know which cables you have that are proprietary to a specific piece of gear and which are standard. Proprietary cables travel in the case with the gear.

5. Treat all gear equally great and save your original boxes. Throughout your career you will be upgrading gear often. You will get better resale results from a well-maintained piece of gear in the original box with the original manual.

List Continued >>>

*Figgis, M. Digital Filmmaking. New York: Faber and Faber, 2007. Print.

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