Tolstoy blog post
by Dov Kaufmann
Nov 15, 2021
4 min read

Although having an unlimited budget would make all of our lives a little easier, you can achieve amazing results with your Tolstoy without spending too much money or time on film equipment.

Typically your technique can be more important than your tools, but in terms of equipment we recommend the following:

Lighting is everything

Before you begin to film, you need to think about your lighting. When it comes to DIY filmmaking, lighting is the biggest make or break component!

While you can definitely purchase lighting equipment, like a ring light, the sun is really the best source for filming at home. But you need to know how to work with it.

  • Your light should be in front of you, like a window or whatever light source you choose. If it appears too bright move further away, or close the blinds.
  • Make sure the light hits you from in front rather than behind.
  •  Side lighting can be very flattering. Tilt yourself slightly from the window, so the light hits you at an angle.

Things to avoid:

  •  Avoid using overhead lighting, it casts unnatural shadows on your face
  • Lighting that is too bright
  •  Backlighting

Your smartphone

While most recent smartphones have incredible filming capabilities, the iPhone 12 Pro beats the rest. It has Dolby digital so it will look insanely good and will be a quarter of the price, effort and time of a good DSLR camera. If this is too expensive, any iPhone works as long as it is version 10 or above.

Sound equipment

Crisp, clear sound is a major component to the success of a Tolstoy. If you can, investing in a microphone will greatly enhance your video’s quality. Lavalier microphones, also called lapel mics, are a great option for your videos. You can hide it on your body, keep your hands free, and they can be budget friendly. This is our favorite, and it's available on Amazon

If you can’t splurge on a microphone just make sure you’re close to your microphone, and in a quiet environment.

Tripods: Keep it balanced

While the newest iPhones have built-in optical image stabilization, using a tripod will always be the best option.
We like this option from Amazon, it fits almost any smartphone and it's super affordable.

No time for a tripod? That’s alright! Here are some tips to help you stabilize your shot:

  • Keep your phone close to your body. Tuck your elbows and arms in, T-Rex style.
  • Rest your elbows on a nearby object.
  • Use your body to absorb any bounces or shakes.


We all need a little help now and again remembering our lines, and a teleprompter is the perfect solution. A teleprompter displays a scrolling script next to a camera lens, allowing you to read while keeping eye contact with the audience. Our favorite free version is this Teleprompter for Video App by Norton Five Ltd.

Need more help getting started? Check out our other guides or shoot us an email!

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by Dov Kaufmann