Here’s the absolute cheapest way to shoot a feature film, in a way that doesn’t suck. You will need a minimum of three people as crew: the director, cinematographer, and the sound guy. Work on the set would have to be divided between them, e.g. when the director and cinematographer might be blocking a scene, or… moving couches around, the sound guy can also do backups or charge the various devices used. Basically, few people will have to do the work of many. The actors can do hair & makeup amongst themselves. Don’t worry, they’ll manage.
1. Canon EOS M, $150 on eBay, used. Shoots in manual mode, in 1080/24p at 45mbps (make sure you underexpose by 1/2 stop outdoors, its metering is not accurate).
2. 7artisans 25mm f/1.8 Lens, manual focus lens. You can shoot the whole movie with that lens. Even cheaper on eBay.
4. Variable fader ND 52mm filter. Almost always to be used outdoors during the day.
5. 52mm IR CUT filter. This is not the same as an IR filter btw. This is to be used only when you use the ND filter at its high strength. Without it, color reproduction gets thrown off.
6. 52mm Wide Angle adapter. To be used to convert the 25mm lens to about 20mm, since there are no cheap solutions for wide angles lenses for the APS-C sized sensors.
7. TWO SanDisk 64GB Ultra SDXC UHS-I Memory Cards.
8. 2 batteries and charger for the camera.
11. 52mm lens cap, to protect the lens and filters.
12. 52mm Sun shade for outdoor shots.
13. Grey card, to set white balance, particularly indoors.
14. Clapper board, helps with syncing audio in post, and to organize which shot is which.
15. Field Monitor, this one is lower resolution, but it comes with a battery and charger, and sun shade for $127. The Canon M’s HDMI output is 720p anyway, so you’re good with this one.
16. HDMI mini cable to connect the field monitor to the camera.
17. Picture Style: Either install the free Technicolor Cinestyle, or if you want a more “baked” cinematic look, buy and install the VisionColor CineTech (settings: 2, -4, -2, +1), or Lightform C. You’ll get 1 more stop of dynamic range with these profiels over the Standard or Neutral picture styles.
18. Light meter, to make sure shots match.
17. Reflector, also to be used outdoors.
18. Digital recorder with Line-In. Record in WAV and set your meters to between -8 and -12.
19. SGC-598 Shotgun mic, with phantom power.
20. Deadcat, for outdoor shots.
21. Headphones for monitoring.
22. Monopod to be used as a boom mic (it’s cheaper than an actual boom pole).
23. 10-20 ft audio cable.
24. Cold shoe adapter, to mount the mic on the monopod.
25. [Optional] Swivel extension, which lets you turn the mic at different directions on the monopod.
26. TWO USB drives from a reputable manufacturer. After each session, you save the recorded files in each of these, so you have two backups. Don’t skimp on backups. You’ll regret it.
Free versions of DaVinci Resolve for editing, Fusion for any needed compositing, Blender for 3D, Audacity for audio editing, The Gimp for stills editing. The free version of Resolve doesn’t have noise reduction, but by using the Lum Vs Sat color grading panel, you can make it less visible (it makes it look like film grain instead of digital noise).
Other (prices not included in this estimation)
Extra batteries, gaffer tape, USB charger, laptop, music licensing, sound effects, legal, insurance, coffee.