You are making a film, but your budget is low. You can get excellent video quality from DSLR family as a camcorder or even a smartphone camera (the iPhone can make particularly good movies, as can Microsoft’s high-end Lumia devices), but without expensive accessories, capturing well-lit and smooth moving footage can be tricky.

But budget shouldn’t mean no movie. With a little ingenuity, you can solve lighting problems and implement Steadicam-style camera work for very little or no money, using the tools and equipment you may already have in your office, shed, or workspace.

No steadicam? No problem!

One of the big issues facing amateur and low-budget filmmakers is the price of the Steadicam. A real article will set you back $320 on Amazon, while low-budget alternatives can run anywhere from $20 to $130.

Now you may find that building your own Steadicam is something you’re passionate about, and with the right equipment, it’s achievable. Online DIY sites are chock-full of homemade Steadicam alternatives, but this is one of the best we’ve seen:

DIY Steadicam, no DIY skills?

Let’s just assume you’re completely useless at DIY. You may have the ability to twist and untwist things, but when it comes to joining materials, you prefer to go through. Well, this might just be the solution to your Steadicam dream.

Known as the Merricam (named after its inventor, Will Merrick), this Steadicam alternative uses the physical properties of a standard camera tripod and requires you to remove one screw. Note that this may not work well with cheaper, lighter tripods, but is ideal if you have a standard tripod with the same or similar design.

(And if you’re completely lacking in DIY skills, you can always learn them on YouTube. .)

hello dolly

Smooth motion is absolutely essential for making amateur films, and at the same time very difficult to achieve. While Steadicam hacks are one way to achieve this, you may also need to slowly track and zoom in on the image, which can be achieved in film production with a dolly, a small platform on wheels that holds a camera.

As a rule, these devices have a track on which they are pushed. But considering how much smaller your movie project can be, you can create a doll cart using parts that you have in your shed or that are readily available.

This doll is made from an old skateboard and two lengths of aluminum. She gives excellent results.

drive shooting

If some wheels and a makeshift track are not big enough, why not hire a car?

No, really.

In truth, filming from a car can be great, not only as a replacement for a tracking and zoom cart, but also to work with enhanced camera features. You can mount the camera on the side of the car (although this can be expensive) or prefer to roll up the window or sit in the trunk to get the right shot.

As you can see from the video, you can shoot the footage safely in the car and also use it to record impressive stunt shots, without the cost of stuntmen!

If that’s not an option, you can also control in-car video shooting using just the smartphone mount. So…


Let there be light

Lighting is almost always a challenge for amateur and budget filmmakers, but if you have the necessary skills or staff, you can take advantage of the equipment available and create your own lighting solutions.

It can be as simple as adding extra bounce to your flash, or building an entire lighting setup.

Do-it-yourself lighting solutions shouldn’t be a barrier either — they can create results that can otherwise be very complex or costly. Here’s a bonus example that demonstrates how to achieve subtle, scary lighting with an IKEA trash can.

Doesn’t this look great? Repurposing IKEA furniture is great for DIY projects — take a look at our budget table built from IKEA tables. .

Keep up the good work with the film

These videos are just the tip of the iceberg of DIY movie making tips you can achieve with little or no budget. But where can you find more?

A good place to start is Indiewire, the first stop for independent online filmmakers, which has a section dedicated to self-made filmmakers. Indeed, there is very little reason to avoid this site as it is full of useful articles and features.

It is also worth keeping an eye on several online channels such as DigitalRev TV, which released the first video with the coverage above, and Vimeo Video School. For a deeper discussion of the DIY technique, the DIY Filmmaker video podcast is also a good choice.

In the meantime, if you have a subscription to, you can continue working on the film by writing and delivering professional courses.

What are your favorite DIY movie making tricks? Perhaps you’ve made an amazing low or no budget movie that you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments.

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