Filmmaking equipment can be incredibly expensive, below are 5 useful every day items that you can find in your house and that can be used to make your shoot run more smoothly.

Filmmaking equipment is expensive, everyone knows that! It’s often the case that once you’ve invested your money in the camera, the lighting gear, sound and everything else, you just don’t have money left to spend. Not only that, but by spending all of your time looking for the obvious pieces of gear, it’s possible to overlook the smaller yet vital pieces of equipment that you should have on set. Below are some everyday items that will not only save you money, they’ll also save you time and stress on set.

1. Scissors.

Everyone has a pair of scissors at home but more often that’s where they stay. On set, scissors are definitely your friend, especially if you’re working with a large number of cables. When dealing with cables and wires you have to be incredibly safety conscious meaning you’ll need a ton of tape, cable tidies and other pieces of equipment to keep something together. Whilst it can be a pain to set all of these safety measures up, it’s even more of a pain removing them once your shoot is finished. Enter scissors. They will speed this process up massively, meaning you can get off set quicker than ever before, something that I’m sure you will appreciate.

One of the other uses for a handy pair of scissors is cutting out gels and diffuser paper. On many occasions these items will have to be cut into specific shapes and sizes with relative precision. In order to do so, you can’t simply rip the paper and will need a pair of scissors.

If you’re going out to buy a pair of scissors then make sure you buy a strong pair, personally I like the cooking scissors with the metal handles, for extra strength.

2. A decent multi tool.

What I mean by a multi-tool is one of those little gadgets that has a whole range of useful tools like pliers, screwdrivers and tape measures.

Obviously it would be better if you could have all of the tools you need on set but, in practice, it really isn’t that simple. If you’re shooting as part of a small crew, or even a one man crew, then you need to be really careful about the kinds of gear you take. The amount of gear you bring can be make or break and so anything that can make that decision easier is worth having with you. A multi-tool is definitely something that can do that for you.

You can stuff them in a kit bag and they can get you out of a huge number of potentially disastrous situations. If you can, try and get one that has a fold out screwdriver with multiple attachments. I find that this is easily one of the most useful tools to have around on set and can be used for everything from attaching cameras to baseplates right through to fixing bits of your set. A spirit level and tape measure are also a bonus but not essential.

3. Clothes pegs or Clamps

There is always a need to hang something up on set and this is where some clamps or clothes pegs come in handy.

If you’re using lights with barn doors on then either clothes pegs or clamps will be of great help. If you’re using any kind of gels or diffusion paper then you know they can be a nightmare to keep on the light. For this I would recommend clothes pegs. You’ll need to get wooden ones, as these don’t conduct heat and so won’t burn you or melt. Although these are great for lights, they have limited uses outside of this. For anything involving reflectors, flags or foamboard then you’re going to want to use something that is a little bit more heavy duty and this is where clamps come in handy. When combined with something like a C-stand clamps can be used to hold up a range of equipment and when working with a limited crew this can be of huge importance. When considering hiring a runner or setting up a C-stand with some clamps to hold up a reflector I know what I would use.

A word of advice, if you already have clamps, buy more! I honestly believe that you can’t have enough of them on set.

4. Gaffer’s Tape

We’ve already talked about this earlier but it can’t be stressed enough just how important it is to have a few rolls of good tape on set.
This stuff is great for securing wires and cables to the floor. Regardless of experience level, actors or corporate talent often forget to look for cables and although you may think that they should, it’s on you to make sure that people on your set are safe. When you consider the price of a few rolls compared with a law suit that could cost you thousands it’s a definite no brainer.

Keep this tape on you at all time and make sure that you keep those cables secure!

5. Your mobile phone!

This kind of a cheat because I said that these will be cost effective solutions but let’s face it, everyone has a smart phone now!
The quality of mobile phones is absolutely incredible and the great thing about them is that they have an almost limitless number of uses. The range of filmmaking apps for both Androids and iPhones is staggering and give you access to things that might have been out of your financial reach such as light meters.
Whether you need a viewfinder or a powerful program for blocking out your shots, your mobile should be your first port of call.

So that’s it, our blog on household items that you can use on your film and video shoots! We hope you enjoyed it and if you’re looking to get more of this stuff then don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list. Every month we’ll be sending out guerrilla filmmaking tips, tricks and our staff picks to help you on your filmmaking journey.