With my time as a cinematographer here at Relentless and as DP and co-producer of the web series “Budget Backpacker“, travel has become a staple in my life. As filmmakers, we sometimes get the luxury of journeying to exotic locals; which is great, but never easy. Especially when it comes to our essentials. Traveling is about compromises and being smart on what we bring because these decisions can ultimately come back to bite us if we aren’t prepared.
The first thing we should think about is how to pack light. Whether we trek by land, water, or air, it’s best to know ahead of time how much we are allowed to bring. Think about locations. Not just where you plan to video or film, but the areas leading to those spots. Scout them out beforehand, even if it’s just on Google Maps. Our main question is, “how can we most comfortably move around? Do we need backpacks, roller bags, or something else?” Either way, we need to make sure that we can effective carry our gear. Perhaps we may want to invest in a small 1510 Pelican case or a nice camera backpack. F-stop is a good brand as well. They have a wide variety that is great for travel.
We should also choose our lenses and cameras wisely so we aren’t stuck carrying a heavy load. Canon C100 and 5D MIII DSLR cameras are good, versatile cameras with a moderate profile. We may even want to substitute with a Sony α7S or Panasonic GH4. Both are small cameras (keep in mind the lens mount). As for lenses, you want variety from wide to mid-range to telephoto. Our goal is to not have to bring more than 3 lenses. I typically bring 16-35mm, 24-70mm, and 70-200mm—all EF mount lenses. Don’t forget the cleaning kit!
PROTECT YOUR GEAR
Cameras, lenses, and accessories are pretty much the most important part of filmmaking. We want to make sure they are protected and that we can keep our eyes on them as often as possible. Get insurance! You won’t regret it later if gear gets damaged or worse, stolen. I’m speaking here from an experience I had once in Brazil. It is also important to never check cameras or lenses as luggage at the airport. Baggage handlers aren’t known for being gentle (I’m looking at you, Chicago O’Hare). Checking in tripods and other supports is fine, but keep in mind how large tripods can be. There are some small, carbon fiber ones available at a reasonable price. At least we can put our minds at ease knowing our equipment is safe. In many cases, unless you are filming the journey to your destination, shipping nonessential equipment prior to travel may be the best option.
Accessories are huge deal and are sometimes overlooked. If something gets forgotten, lost, or damaged, the nearest Best Buy might be two countries away. Always double (or maybe even triple) up on batteries and storage media. You don’t want to be stuck in Africa or jungles of the Amazon without extra batteries, and you definitely don’t want to lose that shot because your card is full. Bringing a slider dolly or other unnecessary gear isn’t the best idea as they tend to be quite heavy, awkward size, and not “run and gun” type of gear. I normally bring my DEFY G2x Gimbal on the road as it is compact, light, and easy to set up. It can also get those smooth shots which makes it a versatile replacement for a dolly. It’s a very convenient piece of equipment that I’ve never regretted bringing.
Lastly, don’t forget to bring extra underwear and long socks. Not to mention a rain jacket as you never know what the weather is going to be like. Dress comfortably, but keep it to a minimum. Don’t forget your toiletries!
Just remember, keep it simple, and be patient with your adventures. Stay positive and work hard and everything will ultimately pay off in the end. Happy Travels!