The run ’n’ gun shooter carries a unique burden in today’s media world. Most guerilla filmmakers and video journalists are shooting, conducting interviews, monitoring sound, scheduling logistics, and setting up lights. It’s a tough gig that requires wearing many hats. It can all be very overwhelming for a camera operator who has spent most of their career on sets with a fleet of producers, gaffers and assistant camera technicians to keep things running smoothly. Here’s a few very simple DIY gear hacks from career run ‘n’ gun shooters who learned the hard way so you don’t have to!
1. Find Creative Spots to Stash Gaffer Tape
Gaffer tape is a mythical creature that should be in every filmmaker’s bag. But that’s just the problem: it’s in the bag and the bag might be across the room. Wrap it on a tripod leg, a shotgun mic, a camera body, or literally anywhere that you know will be immediately accessible during shooting. When you have five minutes with an interview subject and you just broke the clip on your lavalier mic, you’ll be very happy. We could talk about the 101 amazing uses for gaffer tape, but that’s a subject for a whole ‘nuther post!
2. Carry a Small Handheld Audio Recorder
This is absolutely one of the most important tools that a solo shooter can carry. High quality pocket recorders are cheap, nearly indestructible, and serve many purposes. You can drop one on a podium at a press conference or next to a band across a crowded room. They can function like a shotgun mic when mounted on a DSLR. Stick one on a monopod and you’ve got a tight little boom pole setup. Most importantly, they are GREAT for making timecode notes to pass along to the editor. This is possibly the best $150-$200 bucks you’ll ever spend. Here’s a few great models you can find on KitSplit in LA: Zoom H5, Tascam DR-40, Zoom H1
3. Save Your Headphone Jack with a $7 Purchase
Have you ever snapped off a headphone jack inside your camera? Well, if you work in the hectic world of run ‘n’ gun shooting, you will someday. It will ruin your day, your week, and possibly your bank account after you see the repair bill. The solution? A $7.00 extension cable. You can thank me later.
4. Makeup Brushes Work Better Than Lens Cloth
A small retractable makeup brush is an excellent addition to any kit. Why? Lens cloth is great for smudges, but what about when you’re shooting in a carpentry studio? Sawdust doesn’t wipe away. A $4 retractable makeup brush from the drugstore can fit in your pocket, doesn’t get sweaty, and it can be ready at a moment’s notice.
5. Grab Napkins Everywhere You Go
You’ll probably eat lunch at some point during every shoot. When you do, snag a giant pile of napkins. When your afternoon interview subject shows up sweaty and shining, they will absolutely love the camera operator who came prepared with the perfect easy solution. They make all kinds of expensive specialty cloths for this task, but napkins are free and plentiful.