Lensprotogo Filmmaking Blog


Jun 29, 2017 // 8:17 AM

Filming A Western With A Low Budget: Film Riot

Written by Meg Tetrault

As kids, most of us dream of being cowboys. Ryan Connolly of Film Riot made this dream come true for his crew during the making of Westworld to Yuma. Watching the short you may immediately jump to the conclusion that with the location, costumes, props and, most important, quality of film, Ryan had a big budget to work with. You might be surprised to learn that with the gear listed below, they filmed the entire low budget short in just 1 day. Watch the full film here:


Camera Choice: Arri Alexa Mini

Ryan filmed Westworld To Yuma with an Arri Alexa Mini. It's the little brother to the Alexa Digital camera and comes in at just 5 lbs with a carbon body. With built in WiFi controls, you can control this guy from a distance which comes in handy if you are directing through the saloon doors. 

Ryan chose the Arri Alexa Mini specifically because he knew they would be shooting the entire film outdoors in harsh sunlight. The Alexa Mini features 14+ stops of dynamic range so it's the perfect tool to ensure your highlights and shadows are all accounted for. The Alexa Mini is much more forgiving than other cameras in direct sunlight. 


Lens Choice: KOWA Anamorphic

Choosing the right lens is important as it can affect the final look of the video far more than the camera you use. Consider not just the focal range but also the glass being used. Ryan used the Kowa Anamorphic lenses for a wide, anamorphic, style but also because they are vintage. These lenses have a grittiness to them that would assist in creating a western feel without muddying the image.


Want to try some vintage anamorphic lenses yourself? Check out the LOMO Anamorphic set we rent! 

Stabilization: MoVI Pro With Easy Rig

While there wasn't a ton of movement in the film (this done strategically), where there was, it was made possible using a Freefly MoVI Pro attached to an Easy Rig. When the budget and time didn't allow for a hand laid track or a dolly system, the MoVI Pro was the next best option. Just beware of the "ocean-style flow" you can get in shots as if you were shooting from a boat. In Ryan's case, he was able to fix the wobble in post because the MoVI Pro is so good at getting smooth shots. 


Capturing Audio: RODE NTG3 sHOTGUN MIC

Audio was recorded both on set as well as in the studio. Ryan and team used a RODE shotgun mic on a boompole with blimp and deadcat. This provided an incredibly simple, easy to maneuver, setup. 


In studio, sounds were recreated to enhance the film. To achieve the sound of walking on a hollow, wooden, porch, they placed a sheet of plywood up on apple boxes and walked across with cowboy boots on. Adding some dirt to the top of the wood made the sound even more realistic.


Additional Gear

To showcase how low budget this film was, the additional gear used during this production was:

SmallHD 24" Monitor with Teradek Bolt 500 to transmit and receive from Arri Alexa Mini

Your turn to shoot a western

Have a script in mind and horses ready for prime time? While LensProToGo can certainly help you with gear, make sure to also check out the Western LUTs built by the Film Riot team. This pack features 11 different LUTs that is compatible with Photoshop CS6, Adobe After Effects, Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, HitFilm 4 Pro and more! 

What are you waiting for? Head to the consignment shop, grab yourself some cowboy boots and a hat and make your childhood dreams come true.

Topics: Filmmaking Tips Filmmaker Insider

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Rent the Complete Western Kit
Arri Alexa Mini
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SmallHD 1303 Production Monitor
Rent the Teradek Bolt 500