The lack of studio backing has always been both the independent film community’s greatest weakness and asset. An indie director doesn’t feel pressure from producers to alter his or her project to better target certain demographics. These individuals have complete control over their films. The only thing that really stands in their way to creating their movies on their own terms is financing. Without the backing of big-time producers and companies, even the most talented and creative video professionals may have trouble capturing their vision on film. That dichotomy can be frustrating to deal with and may ultimately make working outside of the traditional major studio system seem like an uphill battle.
Making a successful independent film has never been more difficult than in today’s climate. Moviefone columnist Gary Susman explained in a 2013 article that the film industry has veered away from smaller, character-based pieces in favor of bigger spectacles. Another major concern is that major studios have bought up distributors that previously helped independent filmmakers get their movies in front of an audience. Now that those outlets have been incorporated into the Hollywood studio environment, indie directors have lost a number of allies.
“Independent film is in a chaotic state of flux because the business model that made the indie renaissance of the past quarter century possible has collapsed into a shambles,” Susman wrote.
Susman also noted that it has become more difficult for these filmmakers to secure financing through traditional channels such as venture capitalists. If independent filmmakers are unable to get proper funding, they will likely have to settle for subpar recording equipment. Using inferior cameras and editing equipment will further prevent these individuals from creating movies that are able to effectively capture an audience. That’s why it’s so important that indie directors have access to high-quality hardware without needing to break the bank.
Blackmagic Design presents a ray of hope
In recent years, Blackmagic Design has helped bolster independent film productions with its line of high-performance cameras. With this equipment, crews can shoot raw uncompressed video that can stand toe-to-toe with major studio films. The emergence of the affordable Blackmagic Design brand has enabled numerous professionals working outside of the Hollywood system to pursue their passion projects.
Industry veteran Emmanuel Sapolsky was one such individual who felt squeezed out by the astronomic up-front costs needed to get movies off the ground. With several film credits under his belt, Sapolsky has worked with a number of both high- and low-end cameras. Often, this equipment presented a “pick your poison” situation in which crews could either suffer subpar transfers or stretch their budgets thin on a better machine.
“These cameras were either cheap with a poor image quality that didn’t look cinematic, or too expensive and hard to master,” Sapolsky said. “I remember when shooting with a digital film camera that emerged at the time for its ability to shoot RAW, we had to rent a special tripod because it was too heavy and an O’Connor Head to sustain the camera. It was noisy and drained the batteries faster than we could shoot and the workflow was complicated.”
Since working with fellow international film veteran Xin Wang to form Drunken Dragon Productions, Sapolsky and the organization’s crew members have looked to keep their costs down while still generating high-quality video. With the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Drunken Dragon Productions has been able to achieve studio-level transfers without shelling out for expensive equipment or dealing with the shoddy compression techniques of inferior products.
Blackmagic cameras offer the total package of affordability, versatility and performance. Sapolsky’s crew has been able to customize his equipment to shoot with various approaches to framing as well as in numerous disparate locations. The ability to capture raw, uncompressed video has been a significant asset, as it has enabled the filmmakers to create films that look comparable to larger productions. The image clarity offered by Blackmagic cameras effectively levels the playing field and gives indie directors a fighting chance.
“The gap between big productions and indie filmmaking is narrowing thanks to guys like [Blackmagic Design CEO] Grant Petty,” said Sapolsky. “We feel he really cares about bringing solutions to the mass so new talents could emerge without emptying our bank accounts.”
Get reliable performance with high-quality SSD drives
When paired with the best acquisition media on the market, Blackmagic cameras can help independent filmmakers eliminate one of their biggest headaches: lost footage. Dropped frames and faulty transfers can grind small productions down to a halt, sending the crew racing to find a way to reshoot video they thought they had in the can. In many instances, these unenviable circumstances are the result of an ill-suited storage device. Many digital cameras including the Blackmagic Cinema Camera require a solid state drive to transfer video into usable files. If the SSD in question is not of a high caliber and designed specifically for video recording applications, its performance will likely suffer.
Most of these problems can be traced back to an SSD’s form factor. Off-the-shelf products are typically created for use in laptops, netbooks and PCs, meaning their specifications rarely match up with industry standards. A slimmer SSD, such as those commonly used in computers, will rattle around when placed inside a Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Given too much movement, that device may become damaged and put the integrity of any captured video at risk.
Meanwhile, an SSD drive that has been designed specifically for video recording purposes will alleviate these concerns. A product like DIGISTOR’s Video Professional Series SSD offers the precise form factor, format and design specifications to enable effective video capture when needed. With these SSD drives, independent filmmakers can avoid the kinds of acquisition media-related pitfalls that have derailed many productions in the past.