By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
Last week we took a look at creating a filmmaker utility belt for keeping your most needed film gear on your hip. But when it comes to larger equipment like camera bodies, lenses, gels and stands, a good equipment cart that can roll around the set will not only keep things within reach, but organized as well. A professional gear kit could cost several hundred dollars, maybe even thousands. But you can do it DIY style for around $100.
Technically, this isn’t strictly DIY. You’re not going to be building a cart from scratch. But customizing a cart found on Amazon for under $70 will still give you a valuable tool for keeping your gear organized and ready to reach for. The cart used by the guys at The Film Look for this excellent DIY tutorial is the Popsport Utility Tub 3 Tier Rolling Metal Tool Cart from Amazon.
While the video says that the cart is under $50, that was likely a sale, as Amazon currently lists it for $70 plus free shipping. The cart comes in multiple colors, as well, so you can get an eye catching RED so you can always pick up your cart from your peripheral vision, or standard black, or even blue. I like RED 103A because it comes with an additional tool rack in the front to carry and organize things like your wrenches and screwdrivers, or even a cordless drill. There’s also a place to dangle a collection of gaffer tape and set up your needed clamps and C47s in various sizes. There’s a place for everything and everything is in it’s place.
The cart rolls around 4″ swivel rolling casters, which will handle most gear, but I think it would be a good idea to head over to Harbor Freight and pick up a set of HaulMaster 8″ inflatable wheels heavy duty swivel casters. They’re only $14 a piece and would go a long way towards being able to use your cart on a wider variety of surfaces. They can also nearly double your carrying load.
Back to the main cart. Other items you will need to keep everything organized include a 4″ PVC pipe to attach to the front to place your gels and stands, an old coffee can attached to the cart to carry pens, markers and the like, a set of three carpet liners to keep each shelf not only softer for your gear, but also to grab the gear so it doesn’t slide around. You’ll also want some foam dividers which can segment each cart shelf for different purposes.
In the video above, the builder deliberately keeps the top space clear, to use a work area. This is a good idea because this way you can rest your camera on it while building it out. and have the space free of clutter while you work. This will leave the bottom two shelves to store everything from lenses, to batteries and a charging station, tools, and more. One thing I like is that the build keeps expended batteries on the third shelf, and charged batteries on the second shelf, so they don’t get mixed up. The last thing you want is to waste time looking through a pile of batteries to find one that’s fully charged.
Then it’s just a matter of filling out your cart with what you need for the day, labeling each section with white gaffer tape and a marker so it’s easy to read, and dividing each section up with foam dividers so that you smaller gear stays put.
At the end of the day, organization will set you free, and keep you from wasting time looking for what you need. And with a cart like this, you can outfit it during your prep time, customizing it for exactly the kit you’re going to use for the project. And you do it for around $100.
You can’t beat that.