You're a Run-and-Gun Renegade

I’m so glad you’re here! Let’s dig in.

Oh hey there!

First, let’s state the obvious: you’re going to want gear that’s light weight, easy-to-use, and helps you get the job done accurately. That’s got to be the priority. If I had the disposable income for it, I’d have two or three different set-ups.

One for traditional doc shooting, one for run-and-gun, and one for photography. But instead I try to make my doc set-up work for run-and-gun. And it’s kind of a pain!

Since this is your main area, be specific about your gear. Make sure it’s highly targeted at shooting on the go. 

What Gear Do You Need to Get Started?

Your Run-and-Gun Starter Gear

ps. I'm Colette

Nice to meet you!


Usually I say that any camera will do. And that’s true. But for run and gun shooting, life is a lot more difficult if your camera doesn’t have zebras and focus-peaking.

Focus-peaking in-camera means you’ll see these little dots on the screen that show you which part of the frame is in focus. It makes pulling focus a lot easier when you don’t have much time.

Zebras are these stripes that show you where your image is over-exposed. In the field you’re usually relying on a tiny screen unless you’ve added an external screen to your rig. If you’re using the built-in screen then zebras are invaluable. Over-exposure is an unfixable problem. 

Mirrorless cameras tend to be favoured by run and gun shooters. I’ve used the Panasonic GH4 and GH5 cameras happily. I’ve also heard good things about Sony mirrorless cameras as well. It goes without saying that you won’t be using a handicam for shooting. :) 


You’re not going to want to invest in prime lenses (single focal length) if you’re doing run and gun. Start with the equivalent of a 35-70mm lens if you can. This will probably be a 17-35 mm lens since most run and gun shooters go with mirrorless cameras that have a crop factor which reduces the field of view of their cameras. (Meaning? Mirrorless cameras tend to have a sensor that basically takes a lens and zooms in by nearly double. Always do research on the crop factor of any camera you’re buying.)


I’d try to go that has a minimum fixed aperture of 2.8 or less. I wouldn’t choose a lens that has a variable aperture. You lose control of your image with a variable aperture lens. New to this lingo? Aperture and f-stop refer to the same thing. They both refer to how wide the diaphragm in your lens is able to open i.e. how much light it’s able to let into the lens. (You can learn all about this…and more…in my 12-week filmmaking program btw.)


Friend, this is where you’re going to need my Sound Buyer’s Guide. It’s down below.


Get started with the sun. Film everything outside or next to a window.

Then start trying out ultra portable lights. For run and gun shooting, I’d recommend starting with an LED that can be mounted on top of your camera in the hot shoe mount. This gives you what’s called an EYE LIGHT.

This puts a gorgeous sparkle in your subject’s eyes if you’re shooting in lower light circumstances with no main source of light. (This is actually critical.) From there I might add a really easy to set-up light like the Westcott Ice Light if you’re planning on also shooting interviews on the go. If you need something more powerful but still lightweight, take a look at the Nanlite Forza 60B Bi-Color LED Monolight. This is a tiny yet powerful light. You can add a softbox for softer light. 


For a run and gun shooter you’re going to need stabilization that’s easy to use on the go. Here are some options that might work for you. Monopod with mini flip down legs and a fluid video head. This allows you to keep your shot stable, occasionally take a break if it’s a long shoot (the legs are super useful), add movement as needed. 


Gorillapod that you can turn into a handheld rig. For 120 bucks you get a tripod that can be shaped into a pretzel. I use my Gorillapod as a handheld rig and I freaking love this trick. It’s light weight, easy, fits anywhere, and you can squish it into whatever form you want. 

A small Gimbal for super smooth movement shots. Do not start with this. A good gimbal will set you back good money. They’re insanely hard to master. And you’ve got to get your framing under control before you start swooshing around with your gimbal. But this will eventually be a part of your kit. 


I don’t recommend staying on free editing software for too long. It’ll drive you bananas! I use Premiere Pro, which is the way to go if you’re not on a Mac. Mac users can go with Final Cut too. I’ve never used Final Cut, so I can’t say whether it’ll be awesome or not. I like Premiere because I buy it through the Adobe Cloud and get a ton of other programs that I need as a media creator. I’ve you’re trying to save cash, I have heard of people editing entire films using DaVinci’s free software. So you could give that a try. I've used DaVinci for projects that don't have a big audio component as well as for colour grading. For doing something audio heavy, I don't recommend DaVinci.

For video editing your computer should have 4-8 GB RAM otherwise it’ll be crazy slow. More than that is better. But you can get started with as little as 4 GB RAM. You just won’t be editing at lighting speeds. :) If you start getting into 4K shooting, adding tons of effects, doing colour correction and speed ramping your footage, you’ll wish you had 16-32 GB and a Solid State Drive. 

What Should You NOT Buy?

Don’t buy expensive lights until you’ve rented a few.

Don’t buy a DSLR and a fixed focal length lens. You’re probably going to need a zoom. So don’t drop $1000 on a 50mm lens. Not sure what I’m talking about? Not a prob, just make sure if you buy a mirrorless camera that it comes with a zoom lens. When you’re starting out with run and gun shooting, you’ll need a zoom lens. (So if sale dude tries to sell you “prime lenses,” say no thanks!)

Don’t start out with a gimbal. You’ve got to master framing before you start moving your shot. The biggest difference between pro shooters and amateur shooters is being able to SEE everything in the frame. This ain’t gonna happen if you dive into gimbal land right away. Using a handheld rig will help you train your eye and nail your framing.

What steps can you take to get started?

» Get started right away shooting tons of footage of everyone you know.

» Go to parks and film animals. Or find friends who are musicians and want music videos. Or friends with businesses who want videos. Or go to free events and film them.

» Drive your partner crazy filming what he or she does.

» If you’re into action, film friends skateboarding or doing other fast-moving sports.

» Once you’ve sorted out some basic shooting skills, you’re going to need to learn about shot sequencing and storytelling and start practicing that. 

» Find someone you know who has an interesting story and produce a mini doc about them. 

» Rinse and repeat until you think your work is actually good. 

» Then either start applying for jobs in the industry or open up a business. 

Sounds simple. But that’s all there is to it.  

Can you make money doing this?

First and foremost, focus on building two skill sets: technical and storytelling. 

Build a portfolio of work that’s in the niche you want to work. If you want to do nature docs. Build a portfolio of that work. People will hire you because they see something in your portfolio that is similar to what they’re looking for. I once had a client fly from Texas to Vancouver to do a shoot with me JUST because he saw something in my portfolio that he loved and couldn’t find anyone locally who was creating work in that style. 

Seriously. Portfolio is key. 

Once you’re portfolio is built up, there are a few different routes to go. Either starting a business, applying for jobs, or going freelance and creating videos for outlets on a contract basis. 

You’ll probably want to start out in side-hustle land, gaining work from your network and increasing your price with each project. From there, you’ll start to learn what you like and what you don’t. It’s hard to create a strategy if you don’t have much experience. A solid strategy usually comes from taking action, assessing, and planning your next step. 

Whatever you do, just remember portfolio + visibility will result in work. This past year, I got two jobs just from the people who live in my apartment building. One person was a marketing direct and the other person works for the government. 

If people ask you what you do...tell them! It could result in a gig. 

Also, if you're going solo in this career, get good at making proposals and offering guidance. Most of your clients will have no idea what they're doing. You need to educate and guide them.

Living the Dream!

Get the Ultimate Sound Gear Buyer’s Guide


This Sound Gear Buyer’s Guide is a bonus lesson from the Epic Journey Online Filmmaking Course. That’s a 12-week course that’ll take you from beginner to intermediate. The earlier you can start practicing with sound the better. So take this offer while it’s still around! 

This sound guide isn’t specifically for filmmakers interested in making features. It's designed to help solo filmmakers get a handle on sound. But the sound principles will apply to anyone making films.

Also, I speak from experience when I say you should know at least SOMETHING about sound before hiring a sound recordist. 

This Sound Gear Buyer’s Guide is part of my Epic Journey Online Filmmaking Course. Get it for free.

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Are you a creative who's been dreaming of becoming a solo filmmaker?

Have you been dreaming of making films for a loooong time?

If you're here to GROW and LEARN, you're in the right place. 

Hi! I'm colette. Here to help you BECOME a filmmaking.

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