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Dollar-Store DIY Hacks to Use for Filmmaking on a Budget

Liza Brown
Liza Brown Originally published Jan 14, 23, updated Nov 27, 23

Filmmaking is usually an expensive hobby, but slowly over time, it's become more affordable. Regular gear like cameras and lights are slightly cheaper, but there are plenty of ways to DIY regular items to use as film gear.

Making DIY film gear may not give you the same look as professional gear, but it could be a fun project and give you similar looks on a budget. In this article, let's look at some dollar-store DIY hacks that you can use for filmmaking on a budget.

diy film gear
In this article
  1. Tip 1. Add foreground elements to improve the frame of videos
  2. Tip 2. Adjust lights with poster boards
  3. Tip 3. Smooth audio with felt pads or socks

Tip 1. Add foreground elements to improve the frame of videos

Let's start with something we can do to enhance your framing. Sometimes we want to direct our audience's attention to a specific part of the frame. In this case, it's the talent of placing an object in the shot's foreground that can help us do that. While also making a more attractive frame. At the dollar store, try using something like these fake plants.

fake plants

You can place it in front of your lens. Then focus on the talent behind it, giving a blurry foreground that perfectly frames the talent. Here's how the shot looks with and without foreground elements.

framing the subject
Note: Remember, you can also use a different angle than simply approaching the object from the front. You can try and use different perspectives until you find the shot or footage you are looking for.

Tip 2. Adjust lights with poster boards

The shot below looks dark and boring because the background has no light. Here's the shot with and without the lights.

shot with or without lights

A practical light is a light that shows up on screen rather than lighting talent from off-screen. For example, some dollar stores have small LED accent lights for around three dollars.

Others even have lights with adhesive backings that allow you to place them all over the room—creating great lighting accents with small eye-catching pockets of light.

lights with adhesive backings

On film sets, crews use a bounce to reflect light from one light source in another direction. At the dollar store, we can find something like this poster board to get a similar effect.

use bounce to reflect light

By reflecting the light onto the bounce, we get softer, more spread-out light when it's reflected. Then you will get the result in a nicer look. Using poster boards, you can do multiple things with light.

  • Use white to bounce light.
  • Use black as a flag to shape or block light.
use white to bounce light
  • You can also use green for a small green screen when filming a product video

You might have seen how big production companies create those alienated landscapes, such as in the movie Avatar and many more.

The concept is recording your object in front of a green screen behind it. Then, it's much easier to add a separately filmed background to the final footage with a video editor like Filmora.

green screen to create the fake background

Tip 3. Smooth audio with felt pads or socks

Do you ever have audio pop while you are recording? It can get annoying. So, to fix the issues, we are now teaching you three practical ways.

1.    Felt pads

Felt pads with adhesive backs can be stuck onto noisy props like a coffee mug. This way, we won't hear the mug hitting the table when we're recording sound.

felt pads

2.    Socks as pop filters

Professionals use what they call a pop filter because a pop filter can reduce the loud pops from their mouths. But what is pop? Pops usually occur when people say words that start with the letter P or B.

Then what is a pop filter? You might have seen in some YouTube videos, especially live streamers, where they use a microphone with a plate on its head; that's called a pop filter. You can purchase pricey gear like a pop filter, or we can get a pack of cheap socks at the dollar store and place them over the mic.

It will make your voiceover slightly quieter, but it should also get rid of the popping. So keep adding socks until you hear no more pops in your voiceover.

add socks to a mic to make voice quieter


See how easy it was! Keep in mind these dollar store hacks in your next video. And you can edit your footage like a pro with an easy-to-use video editor like Wondershare Filmora. Keep exploring different ideas and perspectives to record.

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Liza Brown
Liza Brown Nov 27, 23
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