With Christmas fast approaching, here are ten stocking stuffer gift ideas for the filmmaker. These are all tools I own, love, or use on a daily basis.
1. Bongo Ties
$6 at Amazon
With a thousand uses for these handy rubber band ties, I try to keep a few spares in every bag. You can use them to hang or attach accessories to a camera rig, neatly tie & fasten cables, you name it. These are incredibly useful, and I can’t get enough of them. They make a great stocking stuffer.
2. Insert Slate
$8 at B&H
Never be stuck without a slate, this insert/macro slate is small enough to keep in any gear bag. This particular one doesn’t have a clapper, but Pearstone (and others) do sell that version as well at B&H and other sources.
$10 at Amazon
One of the brightest flashlights I’ve owned, it quickly zooms from a full wide circle to a tight, punchy zoom. These are great for location scouting, finding gear on a dim set, or for those walks out to the grip truck.
4. microGaffer tape multipack
It’s just gaffer tape, but these mini size rolls make it easy to keep the stuff nearby at all times. Plenty of of color options to choose from as well.
5. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media
$25 on Amazon
An essential guide to telling stories visually. Learn how to translate the words and meaning on the page into compelling visuals.
6. American Cinematographer Magazine Subscription
$30 from the ASC Store
12 issues yearly, the pulse of our industry. Behind the scenes content and interviews with DP’s at the top of their game.
$60 from the ASC Store
Essential on-set technical minutiae you need to know as a DP, Gaffer, or AC. Charts, graphs, flicker-free safe windows, etc. THE Reference.
8. Cardellini & Matthellini clamps
$60-$90 from various sources
These clamps are amazing. They are essential on sets of any size, and the mini versions are great for multiple uses on lightweight travel and docu shoots. You can also hold a boom mic with one of these clamps, in a pinch.
9. Tenba DNA Messenger bags
$80-$160 from various sources
I really like these affordable messenger bags. I bought the DNA 15, which holds a 15″ Macbook Pro along with magazines, books, chargers & cables, and room for a DSLR and lens or two (or a small C100 package). Their DNA 11 and DNA 13 models are even more svelte, built for 11″ and 13″ MacBooks. Built quality is excellent, the bag has structure and holds it’s shape, zippers have awesome pull tabs, and the shoulder strap is comfortable. For the money, it’s hard to beat this line of messenger bags.
10. Sekonic 758 Cine Light meter
$750 from various sources
The light meter that every cinematographer wants. If you’re not quite ready to get a dedicated meter (and are willing to deal with some annoyances) consider the Cine Meter app ($20) along with a Luxi incident meter dome ($30), reviewed by Adam Wilt here. But if you can afford the 758 Cine, get it. It’s a damn fine meter.
Finally, one last option is an iTunes gift card for any of a number of useful filmmaking & production apps. I recommend the following:
- Cine Meter II – The latest update to Adam Wilt’s excellent light metering app. Great for scouting.
- Sun Seeker – Know where the sun will be, and when. The overhead view = handy for seeing sun arc.
- Helios – Another great sun tracking app.
- PCam – Essential calculators for cameras and lenses.
- Artemis – Director’s viewfinder.
- KataData – Codec/bitrate/storage calculator. Know how much media you need.
- Lighting Designer – Design overheads for your sets.
- Shot Designer – Design and animate shots and scenes.
- Easy Release – Quick, painless talent releases on the go.
- Weekend Read – The only way to read a script on an iPhone. Also great for callsheet/PDF storage.
Matt Jeppsen is a working DP with over a decade of experience in commercials, music videos, and documentary films. His editorial ethics statement can be found here, and cinematography reel and contact info at www.mattjeppsen.com