Home made MiniDV35

20 TRT

Budget: $500



Written By – Tim C. Szabics

Directed By – Tim C. Sabic & Marco Mazzoni

Aaron Hinerman – Actor (Man)

Jeff Lanier – Actor (Stranger)

Music By Misplaced Space


The year was 2005. I, along with my BFF Marco Mazzoni, dove headfirst into the most painful creative project. I wrote the script while at work over a week or so, and we decided to start production in July. Oh, by the way, we lived in Phoenix, Arizona, at the time. Oh, and by the way, July in Phoenix is like living on the surface of the sun while the universe throws tiny sharp pieces of hate at you. Anyway, I took a week off of work, and we started the shoot.

2005 was pre the DSLR revolution. Shooting on film was too expensive, and Video was barely figuring out 24p, and HD was pretty much off the table. Also, we were poor – but where we lacked in funds, we made up for ingenuity – at least that’s what I keep telling myself. I had bought an old Sony DCR-VX1000 Digital Handycam – but I wanted anamorphic, and the only version that gave the option was from Japan. And all the menus were in Japanese. So that was fun. Look, I’ll be honest, Sony was never really great with their menu design – so it being in a foreign language didn’t make much of a difference. Also, if I remember correctly, all the camera did was provide “letterbox” and not anamorphic. Eh, it was still rad. MOVING ON! I wanted to use real lenses. Like an SLR lens. Remember, this is before DSLRs – so we had to get creative. I bought a non-functional Minolta SLR off eBay, and a clear focus screen. Ripped the top of the SLR off, attached some focus rings onto the SLR focus screen and BAM, we can now use any lens we wanted. Something we found out real quick, we lost close to 2 stops of light with this method, and the on-set monitor we used wasn’t calibrated correctly. It was a cheap DVD monitor we found on eBay. We white balanced the camera on different colors of paper to get the hue/temperature we want. Red would give us a cool color, Green and Warm, and whatnot. This was the SONOLTA!


It was a nightmare. Computer crashes – losing files and edits and having to get new hardware that never worked properly—finding out a bunch of footage turned out WAAAAAY too dark. All while going through some gnarly personal stuff. Anyway, it was a good experience, and I learned a lot. Mainly, make sure you have an extra spot on the payroll for good ole Murphy. He’ll show up.