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