No doubt about it, cult, self-taught, New York-based YouTube and HBO moviemaker and TV commercials director Casey Neistat is an inspiration to thousands of aspiring moviemakers the world over. And his attitude and his compact but amazing Broadway studio continues to be an inspiration to me and my partner too.
I have to admit, I came late to the Casey Neistat party. The dialup-only Internet access where I lived in the west, and the absolutely pathetic “broadband” where I now live in the east, have really cramped my YouTube and Vimeo online viewing habits. Netflix might have finally arrived in Australia, but watching streamed movies on our “broadband” here remains out of the question.
I only came across Casey Neistat through a three-part video where he showed us around his studio about a year or so ago, and it was an eye-opener and a real validation.
I live and work in a fairly regular Sydney suburban house, but I have tried to get it as organized as I can. Really organized. I box and label all my gear, and have similar things placed close together so I don’t have to go sorting through chaos scattered all over, but, I have a long way to go before I achieve anything like Mr Neistat’s level of organization.
To see what I mean, go to the video, now joined up into one, at ‘Casey Neistat’s Wildly Functional Studio’ on YouTube. I can’t get enough of “How I Live and Work” movies like this and I hope Mr Neistat will make more. The movie was produced by Gizmodo and made by Michael Hession.
In the meantime though, there is another, this time an episode in the Vlog series he started earlier this year. That’s Vlog as in video blogging, not Vlog as in V-Log and V-Log L, the logarithmic photo styles aka gammas aka whatever else you want to call it made by Panasonic for its VariCam 35, the AG-DVX200 4K fixed lens camcorder and the Lumix GH4 hybrid 4K movie/stills powerhouse.
Ahem, where was I? Oh yeah, Casey Neistat’s Vlog and the one on his “Guide to Filmmaking“, the one this article is meant to be about.
Casey Neistat's Guide to Filmmaking
The Vlog’s takeaway is that story is everything. That “story is all that matters”. That “story is golden”. And that “story sits at the top of that gigantic pyramid that is filmmaking”. “Story”, Mr Neistat concludes, “is king”. And he is so very, very right.
But before he gets to that, he shows us through his not inconsiderable collection of cameras before telling us that his favorite movie camera is the Canon PowerShot S120.
While researching for this article, I read a piece Mr Hession wrote for Gizmodo about Canon’s recently announced PowerShot cameras. Looks like the PowerShot S120 has now been replaced by the PowerShot G9X.
I wonder if the G9X has fixed the one thing that, in Mr Neistat’s not-so-humble opinion stopped the S120 from being “the perfect movie camera”. Go to ‘The Almost Perfect Camera’ to find out what that one thing was and how Mr Neistat did a quick-and-dirty fix on his S120.
Mr Hession seems to differ from Mr Neistat in his opinion of the video shot by Canon’s consumer cameras and especially its G-series. Go to ‘Canon G9X And G5X: High Performance Compacts For Every Pocket Size’ to read it.
Besides the apparently controversial S120 and story as king, I found one more gem in ‘Casey Neistat's Guide to Filmmaking’. He cites the role Jonathan Caouette’s documentary ‘Tarnation’ played in inspiring him to be a moviemaker. Time to go see if I can find a copy.Casey Neistat: It is all about STORY! And his fave, the Canon S120 compact movie/stills camera. Click To Tweet
Casey Neistat's Guide to Filmmaking is Refreshing to Aspiring Filmmakers and Youtubers
Throughout Neistat's Guide to Filmmaking, he shows all the equipment he has used through his career. One of Neistat's most famous videos, Bike Lanes, was filmed with a Canon Powershot 300 HS. You can purchase this point and shoot for only $90.00 on Amazon. He continues to talk about all of his favorite cameras he has used over the years, and for the most part they are quite affordable. His most interesting point is the diminishing return in video cameras. Cameras ranging from $100.00-$6,000.00 start to plateau in quality right around the $600.00 mark. DSLR video compared to Point and Shoots is night and day. But comparing the most expensive DSLR compared to the cheapest one isn't what you would expect in image quality.
The theme of the video is “Story is Everything.” There is no generic formula to tell a good story. If you are able to convey a good story through video, viewers will be forgiving and won't be concerned about video quality.
(cover photo credit: snap from the video)