‘Gear Doesn’t Matter’

I was watching Casey Neistat on YouTube yesterday. He does this Q&A thing from time to time where he answers questions people ask him about making movies, Beme (his app), running… anything. I can’t remember which video it was but in one video he was asked by someone about the type of film-making gear he recommends.

‘Gear doesn’t MATTER,’ he says, wide-eyed and annoyed.

‘I shot my first videos on a lousy camera and edited it on FREE software. Gear doesn’t matter. What matters is you tell a story.’ (I’m paraphrasing because I can’t find the video)

How many of us worry about ‘GEAR’?

I worry about ‘GEAR’ all the time. For a long time I was polishing my website again and again because I THOUGHT I could tweak my way to success. I even blamed my website design for not getting me the visitors I wanted.

I mean, it’s partially true – to an extent, design does matter – but it shouldn’t be ALL you care and obsess about. Because what if your website was beautiful, ‘conversion-optimised’ but said nothing important or needs to be said?

What to worry about instead

The thing I like about Casey is that he’s real. He doesn’t BS around or hide things that he feels are too ugly to share. He’s talked about him running away from home at 15, impregnating his girlfriend at 16 and becoming a single father at 17.

I think a better question to ask (instead of, ‘What ‘GEAR’ should I use?’) is, ‘What am I trying to do here?’, ‘How is this going to help?’, ‘Am I in this for the right reasons? (i.e. not only to get rich quick, look powerful or appear famous?)’

The problem with good distractions

Good distractions don’t feel like distractions. They feel legit.

I mean, what could be wrong with trying to find the best camera to use? Surely there’s merit to trying to find out the best camera to use, right?

But try for a moment to imagine yourself as a pro film maker and imagine a ten year old coming up to you and asking you for some advice. You’re only going to answer one question so this has to be a good question. But she asks: ‘Which camera should I use?’

Now imagine the same ten year old coming up to you, and, instead of asking about which camera to use, start showing you all the shots she had taken using her mom’s old camera.

She’s really excited and instead of using her limited time to ask about gear, she asks: “Why did you tell this story? And that one? What happened there?’

When you do real work, the gear, the machine, the tools become details, not the main focus. I’m sure one day she’ll find out the best tools to use, but right now, she has to find out what kind of stories she wants to tell people.

Here’s what I’m doing

I’ve always had this limiting belief that I’m not cut out to be a film maker. Not a lot of people know this but I’ve always wanted to make films. I was inspired by Casey’s videos on YouTube and his determination to do anything it takes – even working as a dishwasher – to make his dreams come true.

With my Samsung camera, I’m going start to taking videos.

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