I'm a member of a local filmmakers group who get together once monthly to create short films. We pull scripts in a lottery type system and after a month of pre-production, we shoot them on a weekend. Everyone does this for free and mostly out of enjoyment of the process. We also have a lot of aspiring filmmakers on set who are interested in learning by being a part of the production. It's an incredibly enjoyable, low pressure arrangement where I feel like we're able to get creative and have fun.
What's not fun, however, is setting up and breaking down a set when you've got multiple people with all types of gear scattered about. Things get mixed up with others' equipment and there are multiple trips to and from my truck. Because these are simple weekend projects, usually on a $0 budget, I wanted to figure out the most economical ways to make it as easy as possible on myself.
The Storage of My Life
I'm a very organized person, almost to the genuine OCD level. While some of my friends might show up with duffel bags, or God help them cardboard boxes, with a bunch of gear packed in, I cringe at the idea of cables and wires getting tied up together. So I began packing all of my stuff in the monitor cases we sell.
These are great for not just monitors but batteries, chargers, filters, lavaliere kits & tools. I have about 10 of these neatly storing all of the small bits of equipment.
Next I pulled out a few of our Autopilot Stabilizer bags. I use these for holding larger pieces of gear and even nest some of the smaller bags inside. For example, I have one bag labeled "Batteries & Electrical" and it holds a small bag of Canon & Sony batteries, adapter plates and charges but also a few extension cords and gaffing tape. I have another carrying small battery powered LED panels (B01N2NKI27; you never know when these will come in handy).
The benefit of a cart on set cannot be understated! Sometimes, you just need a place to put stuff, and a cart is there to support you... your stuff that is. I load all of my bags onto the cart and roll it onto, around and off of the set. For our weekend projects I decided to go with something inexpensive and easy to carry. I found this collapsible cart on Amazon (B00M0V5PWA) for under $70. For such a simple device, it's incredibly convenient and people seem to love it. I get more questions about this cart than any of the equipment on it!
You'll also notice that I take a strip of white gaffer's tape and label each bag so I can quickly identify the contents. This helps shoots move along so much faster. I not only label the bags above, but the bags of tripods, light stands & jibs. As an added identifier to keep my stuff separate, I got a roll of bright yellow stickers (B00VQOU9XM) that I put on pretty much everything, EVERYTHING down to USB cables. It's not just fun to put stickers on stuff, but it especially helps when someone might have a battery or light stand that's the same model as you. So when my gear comes out of the bags, I know it's going to end up going back in.
I keep a few rolls of Velcro straps to keep all of my cables and electrical cords well organized. Extra rolls can be a lifesaver when you need to quickly secure some light cords or an HDMI cable during a scene.
And this isn't really related to equipment storage, but it's a good idea to bring along storage for yourself! I got this pack of 2 folding stools (B07239Q6WN) for $37 and they've come in handy many times already. When there's nearly a dozen people on set, seats will be at a premium!
So these are just a few ideas I use for my projects. Yours may be bigger or smaller, but similar issues often arise. Let me know if you have some of your own tips or tactics you've developed to help move your filming along smoothly. Please note that off-site links are included with our Amazon affiliate tag, but I included the Amazon product ID next to the link if you'd prefer not to use our tag.