Great Gifts for Filmmakers

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The holidays are upon us; who is going to turn down an ARRI Alexa LF? I know I won’t, so if any long-lost relative is reading this and is unsure how to make a good impression, feel free to give me an ARRI Alexa LF or, for that matter, any of these Digital Cine Cameras would be a wonderful surprise.

Well, one can wish anyway. For those of you looking for holiday gifts for that filmmaker in your life, but just don’t know what to do, please read on, and hopefully something will strike your fancy.

ARRI ALEXA LF Pro Camera Set with four 2TB Drives

USB Batteries

Whether you know what USB stands for (Universal Serial Bus) or not, it is undeniable that USB power has taken over mobile devices, and it is expanding into other areas, as well. USB batteries (or power packs) are small, light, portable, some with built-in flashlights (perfect for a dark set or night exterior shoot). These make perfect gifts, and I know that I never travel without at least one. This Xcellon Power Bank has a built-in 65W AC outlet and there are even a few that can give your car a quick boost if you need it (I’ve used mine twice in the past year—awesome), and some include air compressors for re-inflating flat tires.

Xcellon 12,000mAh Power Bank with AC and USB Outlets

Multi-Tools

Everybody wants one, and if you are making films, carrying one tool that has multiple uses is an invaluable space and shoot saver. Plier-based multi-tools are by far the most common, but the venerable Swiss Army knife, in all its configurations and colors, is quite handy. On a personal note, a corkscrew, bottle opener, can opener, and the multi-purpose hook are tools for which I always find a need. The multi-purpose hook is great for carrying cumbersome items that are wrapped with string, which could otherwise cut into your hand. The SwissCard by Victorinox makes for an interesting change of design, literally a multi-tool that you can carry around in your wallet.

Victorinox SwissCard

Walkie Talkies

If you have kids who like to wander off on their own in the woods, you just can’t go wrong with a good set of walkie-talkies, especially in areas where cell-phone service can be spotty. The same can be said for filmmakers, especially if they are working in exterior or large locations. We are filmmakers and communication is our game. But, trying to wave at a PA from 50 feet away to stop traffic or send an actor because you are rolling a take, almost always turns into a comedy of errors. Two-way radios have become a very affordable commodity. Models that use headsets up the coolness factor, as if making a film isn’t cool enough, and those that pick up weather alerts are especially valuable.

Midland GXT1000VP4 2-Way Compact Communication Radio

Flashlights and Headlamps

Utility has overcome any concerns about fashion, or even worry about looking like a geek. Night shoots, or working on dark sets are all too common, and sometimes an over-ambitious crew might just overload the circuit panel, plunging the location into darkness. Flashlights are a good tool to carry, but a headlamp illuminates what you are looking at, while leaving your hands free to deal with the problem. Water and weather resistance are good features to have.

Nitecore HC65 USB Rechargeable LED Headlamp

Power Inverters

It may seem like DC-powered gear has taken over completely, but there are still some fixtures that run on AC power. Adapters that turn AC into DC abound, but if only there were something out there that could take DC power and turn it into AC? Well, there is, as you’ve probably figured out, and it is called a power inverter. An inverter is a great item to have when you need AC power but are not near an AC outlet. Inverters can plug into your car’s lighter socket or can be wired directly to your car’s battery. I find that using an inverter that plugs into your car’s lighter socket can be extremely useful and easy to use.

WAGAN Elite 400W PRO Pure Sine Wave DC to AC Power Inverter

Portable Printers and Instant Film Cameras

Sure, you can take photos on your smartphone and share them electronically, but there still is nothing quite like holding a print in your hand. For filmmakers, holding a print of an image is incredibly valuable. Hair, makeup, wardrobe, and art department would have huge rings of Polaroid photos of actors in wardrobe and makeup, or the way a location was dressed. These were necessary for continuity, especially if you had to go back and pick up a shot, or you wanted to make sure that the wardrobe was correct. The D.P. could take prints of the lighting setups and make notes on the print, hand it off to his team, or send it to post-production. Instant film cameras are making a comeback and are a lot of fun. Though I’ve grown interested in portable Dye-Sub printers, mobile printers, including the Canon IVY line, are designed to work with smartphones, so they are even smaller and easier to tote than the portable Dye-Sub printers. But beyond the practical uses for filmmakers, this is about gift giving, and prints are fun and easy to make. I’ve been bringing my Canon Selphy printer to parties, although it is a little more cumbersome than mobile printers, and it is great to be able to just make and hand prints to your friends, and at family events, it is even better to be able to just disappear and make prints and not have to talk with Great-Aunt Bertha, who is deaf as a post and just wants to pinch your cheeks (I’m 52 years old and I don’t need Aunt Bertha pinching my cheeks and handing me a nickel anymore).

Canon SELPHY CP1300 Compact Photo Printer

Drying Cabinets

Keeping gear protected from humidity is very important, and I use reusable indicating silica packs in my gear bags and cases. These make great little gifts—no-brainers. But drying cabinets are a great way to keep your gear humidity free between uses. There are two kinds: portable ones that use silica gel, which tend to be smaller and more portable, and those that plug into the wall and work like a dehumidifier.

Barska Dehumidifier Pack

Ponchos

Speaking of humidity, wet-weather gear makes an excellent gift. Sachtler makes a poncho designed for location audio mixers with a clear front panel so you can see your equipment settings, while protecting it from wet weather. ShooterSlicker makes two different sleeved ponchos to protect filmmakers from the rain.

Sachtler Rain Poncho

Baseball Caps

Ball caps seem to be just about the universally accepted headgear used by filmmakers. They protect your head from heat and the elements, and the bill protects your eyes from the glare of lights. Plus, if you happen to forget to wash your hair between shoot days, well, a ball cap is good for bad hair days, too. At B&H we have a variety of ball caps, including B&H, Freefly, RED Digital, Porta Brace, and more.

B&H Photo Video Logo Baseball Cap

Thanks for the Gift!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this, and that it has helped you pick out a gift for your favorite filmmaker. If you’ve found something on our site that makes a great gift, please feel free to share it below.

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