Gear for Documentaries – Chandler Griffin

Here’s another blog post that examines in detail the toolkit used by Chandler Griffin, documentary filmmaker who works in remote locations. He divides his list into 4 categories: cameras, sound, lighting and power. Griffin’s list is a few years old (2009), but still valuable for several reasons.

First, Griffin often works for weeks at a time in remote locations in Africa, Latin America or the Middle East – no electricity, no FedEx, no supplies if you forget something. He has to get it right or he doesn’t get it. After doing this for 10 years, he’s probably worked out some kinks.

Second, from my experience as a boy scout, when you’re carrying stuff on your back into remote regions, you develop a habit of ditching all that is not absolutely necessary.

Third, Griffin’s equipment is field-tested and, given where he goes, probably pretty durable. He says, “I don’t necessarily need the most expensive equipment. It has to be the right tool for what I’m going to be doing. Period. I realized, that’s all that mattered.”

Fourth, Griffin often works solo, so he’s worked out what he needs to capture images and audio without a crew. The right equipment for a crew of 3 isn’t necessarily the right equipment for working solo (when you can’t interview, monitor audio gear and get stills/video all at the same time without spreading yourself pretty thin…)

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