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I'm new to the forum and english is not my native language, so i'm sorry if this has been discussed before, i just don't know how to search for this.
So here is the deal, i see a lot of people making improvised DIY lightning, and it works fine if i am working with friends doing a passion project. But if i land a small freelance? Do you think this can hurt my reputation as a future professional in the field? Or they are really concerned only with the final product?


IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
DIY solutions can solve tricky situations, sure. Nothing wrong with improvised tools in your kit. But you should also have a pro kit and be ready for pro set-ups and not just show up with DIY as this would not be a pro move.
Low/No/Mini/Micro budget filmmaking is all about compromises. You don't have a huge budget, so now you have to find creative solutions.

The first thing you should remember is that making a film is a team sport. So your first option should be to find like minded people who might have some of the tools that you need. This is one reason why you should work on projects not your own to build you network of people you can draw upon when it is time to do your projects. You'll encounter folks who are - and are not - compatible personalities. You'll see, at no cost to yourself, things that work and things that don't work. One project on which I worked many years ago the lighting was done and provided by a still photographer.

The second thing that you should remember is what you want to accomplish. I'm not the one to educate you about lighting (key lighting, fill lighting, back lighting, etc.) and cinematography, as I am an audio guy. I've worked on indie projects that used DIY lighting from a hardware store that looked just fine. But they most definitely knew what they wanted to accomplish and chose their very inexpensive lights from an educated point of view and with a clear vision of how they wanted their project to look.

Even in my small audio post studio I do lots of things that make my more well-budgeted peers cringe a bit, but the final project sounds just fine. I know quite well what the established processes are and figure out what rules can be bent and how far I can bend them so that the final result is acceptable to my clients and the audience.

And, of course, as a sound guy, I have to put in my usual...

Your project will only look as good as it sounds, because
"Sound is half of the experience"

If your film looks terrible but has great sound, people might just think it's your aesthetic.
If your film looks great and has bad sound, people will think you're an amateur.

Sound is the first indicator to the industry that you know what you're doing.


IndieTalk's Resident Guru

But if i land a small freelance? Do you think this can hurt my reputation as a future professional in the field? Or they are really concerned only with the final product?
Yes, a DIY lighting (and audio) set up does hurt your reputation as a professional.
Of course that depends on several factors so in some cases it might not be an issue.
But in general if someone is paying you they expect a "professional" set up.

That makes it difficult, doesn't it? You want a few jobs so you can earn money
for better equipment. But you need good equipment to get jobs.