I got the chance to hit up Vincent Laforet at the Photo Cine Expo here in Los Angeles. Vincent is the person who is credited for starting the HDSLR revolution with his short film Reverie way back in 2008, as we moved into an age where the line between Motion and Still Photography has gotten soft. Photo pun if you will.
In my travels I find many still photographers looking for advice on shooting motion photography. Not because they want to but because clients are starting to demand it. Vincent Laforet is one of the best examples of a still photographer who successfully moved into cinematography and ultimately, directing.
The move into motion is not an easy one, but as Vince mentions in the interview, surrounding yourself with a great team makes a huge difference. Finding a good crew is essential to film work. I would suggest looking for, at the very least a Gaffer and Camera Assistant. The AC will keep things running and the Gaffer will watch your back while you are babysitting the Director. I have been lucky enough to have an assistant who is good at both and would not do a job without him unless I had at least two people to replace him.
Getting some continuous lighting in your kit is another essential part of motion. The move here is fairly simple. We just keep the light on all the time. I would suggest checking out rental houses first but untimely you may want to get a small lighting package. LED’s are cool, (this time no pun intended). Yet, they are pricey and I do not recommend getting the copies out there. Litepanels is a great brand, and the MicroPro that I showed here is a great way to get started. I also recommend checking out some tungsten lights. They are fairly cheap and used models are readily available. Arri makes a great Softbank Kit as well, for around 2K.
Moving the camera will be another thing to figure out. It does not hurt to get an additional camera operator. B Roll is a very important part of filmmaking. I always try to roll two cameras. B Roll will save your ass. Remember that.
There are plenty of ways to move the camera. Dollies, Steadicam, Hand Held, Etc. As long as the movement of the camera helps tell the scene or motivate the story, it will usually work. If the camera is just moving for no apparent reason, it becomes distracting.
I agree with Vincent completely about all the gear. The “right tool for the job” applies heavily in motion picture. The rental system is rock solid. They have anything that you may need for any specific shot. I highly recommend renting gear. Online rental houses are starting to flourish. Lens Rentals is one of the better online resources among many others. Most of the rental houses here in Hollywood will ship equipment over night and have online resources available for their customers. I have a relationship with Birns and Sawyer which is invaluable to my work. I could not survive without them.