In my early days of filmmaking, I was often the one to carry the most gear. As I wanted to focus my attention on camera work, the responsibility of the gear was mine to pick up and handle. I faced the consequences and carried most of the film equipment to productions, and ofcourse, this exhausted my body. Before the production even started, I was ready to rest. Even with a minimal set up, the equipment needed for a basic shoot requires a camera, lens, tripod, lights, light stands, sound recorders, microphones, boom poles, extension cords, memory cards, and batteries, lots and lots of batteries. Not too long after my first couple of shoots, I was looking for an alternative to carrying my equipment.
My Initial Alternatives
- Splitting up gear – Although not a bad idea on paper, splitting up the gear introduces a lot of variables multiplied by each person. Batteries may not be charged, storage conditions may not be ideal, and equipment may be missing or just left behind which could be crucial to the whole filming day. In my own experience, there is always at least one thing missing which limits us from doing creative filming.
- Bringing less gear – This is definitely an alternative if you are hiking or in a place with uneven terrain where there are no roads available. However, in most cases, where filming in a building or a yard or even a park is done, bringing less equipment may lead to less control of your film and thus leads to less creative filming.
- Prepping your gear before the shoot – While set up time could take a long while, rationally you would think pre-setting your gear before you go to the shoot would be the best thing for you to do. And while this is “efficient” in terms of time, it is not a safe way to travel with gear outside its protective case. Pre-setting a camera outside its bag or a light stand with a light on top while moving could damage or break your gear which could stop the filming before it’s even begun. No matter how many times you may do this without damaging anything, it only takes one time for it to fall apart.
Using the Beach Trolley
I needed to film at a beach one day and the trek from the car park to the beach was about 5km. I was dreading the walk and had a lot of gear to bring, so I needed a solution. It wasn’t until a colleague from the film shoot, someone who regularly visits the beach, pulled out his beach trolley that I got my answer. I put all my necessary gear on it and by the time we got to the location, I didn’t need any rest. It worked so well, in fact, we put other peoples’ belongings on it as well and it barely made a difference in pulling weight.
I began to use it on every project from that point forward and it helped massively. Although, at first I was concerned about the build quality, after 2 years of projects, it held up pretty well. Not too long after, I saw a couple other videographers and even other organisations (bakery, gym, events organisers…) use the beach trolley. I should note that there are professional trolleys for film productions that are metal in build and have rubber wheels but are awfully expensive. The beach trolley I got was from Kmart at about $50 and is a great addition to all of my filming projects.