Everyone is up in arms these days over the announcement of RED not targeting the prosumer crowd and the Scarlet being more expensive. I think we all need to take a step back here and realize what’s going on.

First off, what RED has done so far is amazing. The RED ONE simply is an amazing camera and at an even more amazing price. We all had hopes that the Scarlet would be THE camera to democratize filmmaking so any teenage kid with a rich daddy or someone saving their hard earned pennies could afford a tool that is truly (for pixel peepers) on par with Hollywood equipment. Stop right there, it was a nice fantasy…

See, there’s a reason equipment costs so much. RED, even with the price increase, seems like they’re not even charging for the R&D of their products. Cameras like this usually cost at least $60K. I mean, a camera that records RAW, 5K (or even 3K), and a 2/3″ sensor. Name one camera that does that for under $10K let alone for under $60K. In fact, is there even another camera out there that records 3K or 5K that we can afford without selling our house and our first born? We should STILL, even at this price point, be grateful RED is even letting us have this equipment for that price. It really is a gift.

Look, I’m not a RED fanboy, as I’ve frankly grown sick of hearing people talk about what they’re working on. That’s not to say that I hate the company, because I don’t – they’re doing amazing things. What I’m saying is that I’m sick of hearing people talk about buying a camera that isn’t finalized when they don’t even have a script to shoot yet. For me, I’ll worry about the camera after it ships.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be mad. If anything, maybe you should be mad that RED said something but didn’t “deliver” but then again, they ALWAYS had the disclaimer, “Things are subject to change. Count on it.”

Guys, filmmaking has been democratized basically since the DVX or before that. DVX films won best film and best cinematography awards at numerous prestigious film festivals around the country. Those who couldn’t afford to buy the DVX could always rent one. Nowadays, we have cameras like the T2i that can do 24p, basically 35mm sensor size, all for about $800. $800. Someone in highschool can afford that on a part time job if they were willing to save their money for a few months. It’s not the camera holding you back anymore, it’s you or your script.

Don’t worry about the compression, etc, on an HDSLR or other decent cams because if you learn to shoot correctly with your tool, your audience is most likely not going to notice or even care. Put your energy into making a good movie.

Over the summer, I shot a commercial with a total budget of $30K. I could have bought a RED with that money, but I didn’t. I couldn’t justify spending that money because most likely, it may never get paid back. As a business owner, I need my equipment to pay for itself rather quickly in order to profit. What’s my point? My point is…

We all want our backyard videos to look as good as possible, but don’t be mad at RED because you can no longer afford the Scarlet. Use what you can afford because most likely, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, if you can’t afford to use a certain piece of equipment on set, then most likely you/your project doesn’t need it.

Stop waiting for RED to democratize filmmaking. That’s an excuse to not film something. Look at the tools we have now. It has already happened. Now stop waiting, go out there, and create something because the filmmaking world is moving ahead without you… and you don’t want to be left behind.

Speaking of creating… here’s my latest short film (end shameless plug)

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  1. I couldn’t agree with you more Paul. Good points made here. Maybe people are delaying making their films because they are waiting on THE ONE. A crutch perhaps to help one feel more secure? I know that if all I had in my position was a Polaroid camera, I’d put my energy in making the best use of it rather than waiting on something I couldn’t afford and let my artistic goals take a back seat. I think aspiring filmmakers need to realize that it doesn’t matter how expensive the piece of equipment you are working with is. What matters is the artist using that piece of equipment. The tools are there to enhance the artist’s vision. Great blog!

  2. I think the digital revolution’s been going on since the VX1000 came out, and film festivals in the mid- to late-1990s said they’ll accept movies shot on digital (as opposed to none shot on analog video).

    I think RED is doing some fine work with the RED ONE, and I think the higher end films I’ve seen shoot with the camera look great. But I’ve also seen microbudget films shoot on it, and they look bad. Very little lights, a DP and gaffer that don’t have much talent, etc.

    Ultimately, story, a good DP/gaffer/crew and a great G&E truck make for good projects. NOT the camera.

    Great article.


  3. Hi Paul

    thanks for saying what needed saying. there are usally a couple RED’s for sale on ebay every week with the same line ” I used it for my movie, now its sitting around, I need the cash” or “I need the cash”. … well that camera should be out working making you money ! the cheaper gear just means I stay profitable instead of sending all my cash to sony and panasonic.

    the t2i is a perfectly good camera, but then you need, REAL sound gear, lights, ect…. and script that isn’t 200 pages, has characters you like and can follow, and a plot line that makes sense… and doesn’t require $200M in fx to put on the screen.

  4. Awesome comments. I will post this article to my twitter @shochojoe
    and I’ll add your blog to my favorites.
    It begins and ends with story.
    What would film history’s first filmmaker’s create if you could go back in a time machine and hand them a $300 Mini-DV Camcorder and all they would need to edit & show what they made? It’s how you use what you have to entertain the audience.

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