Video Gear for the Young Filmmaker


If you have a young filmmaker in your life and you are looking for some way to connect with them, then this is the article for you. From big to small, inexpensive to “it’s more than I paid for my first new car!” this article will briefly touch upon practical and fun gear for young filmmakers, beginning and experienced. 

While you may be concerned that gear-buying is a very personal decision (and that is a valid concern), if the young filmmaker is starting from scratch, no worries—and if they already have gear, then there will be plenty to choose from that is camera agnostic.

Music and Sound Effects

You may think it weird that an article about video gear starts off with audio, but the simple truth is that sound is half your movie. Great images and moving performances are one thing, but having music and sound effects at your fingertips can make a great difference to your production, and I’m not writing about software for composing music, I’m referring to audio libraries. Music and sound effects are never going to go out of style, and it is doubtful you have to worry about the next advancement in resolution rendering these libraries obsolete. Just remember when you are looking for music and sound effects, the words you want to see are “Royalty Free,” which means you buy it once, and there are no other fees. Usually, these libraries come as single-themed music or effects discs, which is great if you have a specific need, or in music or effects collections; I tend to like the collections myself.

Sonic Reality Serafine FX Tron Platinum Complete Sound FX Workstation


Remember—young filmmakers can often be enthusiastic, yet sometimes lacking in perspective and communication skills, so putting a book or two in front of them can greatly improve their early efforts. At B&H, you can find a slew of books on film/video/audio production theory and technique, but I’d like to start by recommending The Visual Story, by Bruce Block, as an excellent read on the visuals of movie making and how to communicate that to your crew.

Focal Press Book: The Visual Story - Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media, Second Edition by Bruce Block

Gear Simple

Production gear can get expensive fast, so let’s start with some useful gear that is a little easy on the wallet. On-Camera lights are excellent choices for gifts for young filmmakers. Lower-priced items do abound, so if the lights are damaged or lost, there will be less crying involved while a valuable life lesson will be learned. There are many different considerations: dimmable, variable color temperature, powered by AA batteries, and even Infra-red or UV fixtures.

Genaray LED-7100T 312 LED Variable-Color On-Camera Light

Another excellent item, lightweight, easy to carry in a bag, with almost limitless uses both on and off a film set is a reflector—specifically, a collapsible reflector. They come in many shapes and sizes, from round, triangular, square, and rectangular/oval. Available in sizes from 12" round to 4 x 6' rectangular, and larger. Reflectors can be standard white/silver, designed to be used as collapsible diffusion, or come with removable covers for multiple color and reflectivity options in one reflector. A silver/black reflector covers both ends of the spectrum with the silver side providing hard bounce light and the black side creating “negative” fill. Blue/Green collapsible screens are also available, and great for quick setups when you need to generate a matte in post. 

Flexfill Collapsible Reflector - 38" Circular - Silver/Black

There are a fair number of disc holders for mounting your reflector on a stand, but the discs by themselves are invaluable pieces of equipment. Plus, in down-time, your young filmmaker can use the smaller reflectors for an impromptu game of Frisbee, and figuring out how to fold the bigger ones can keep even seasoned filmmakers occupied for hours.

Impact Multiboom Light Stand and Reflector Holder - 13'


Choosing a main camera can be deserving of more than one article, so check out some of the B&H Explora articles on choosing a camcorder. However, choosing an action camera as a “B,” or second camera, is a good idea for young filmmakers. First, they tend to be small and easy to hide in shots, or mount in places larger cameras can’t fit. Plus, the controls tend to be fairly simple, and in many cases you can just use them in point-and-shoot fashion. This is a great choice for a perfect introductory camera, or for someone who already has a production camera. For this purpose, you almost can’t go wrong with any of these Action Cameras. From simple to complex, HD to 4K, there are lots of choices, and they are designed for the action market, so they should be pretty durable.

SJCAM SJ5000X Elite 4K Action Camera


Tripods for video work are very different than tripods for still photography—different goals, different needs. For video/film you might want to check out this B&H Explora article, How to Buy a Video Tripod, which discusses in detail the components of a tripod, and your choices. Much of your choice is going to depend on the weight of your camera and accessories, but for young filmmakers, you are also going to want to think about the tripod's weight and durability. Sachtler has long been a workhorse in the film/television industry, and with the introduction of the ACE tripod system, the manufacturer has started using composite components to save weight without sacrificing strength. The ACE system also features accessories such as a matte box and a follow focus unit, in addition to tripods.

Sachtler 1011 System Ace L MS CF Tripod Head and Legs


Staying with the simple and durable theme, I’d suggest taking a look at the Litepanels Lykos series of lights and kits. Available as either a Daylight or Bi-Color unit, or as a variety of kits with cases and stands. Small, easy to use, accepts L-series batteries, or uses the included power adapter.

Litepanels Lykos Bi-Color Flight Kit with Battery Bundle

Rolling Carts

A rolling cart or handtruck has uses beyond just moving film/video gear around. For example, when you are ready for your young filmmaker to move out on their own, you will be glad you got them a rolling cart. Remin makes a wide variety of carts, From the HD-500, which will hold up to 600 pounds and folds to the size of a standard luggage cart, to a variety of standard size luggage carts. I’m particularly fond of the Tri-Kart 800, with its folding rear set of wheels that helps prevent it from falling when you are moving it around. Conair makes a variety of nice handcarts, one that doubles as a ladder and is great for hauling gear and then getting up high once on location (or at a red carpet event), as well as a small handtruck that folds flat, great for storing out of the way.

Remin Kartmaster HD-500 w/ Polyurethane Tires


Remember, someone is going to have to carry all this gear, and backpacks are a great way to keep your gear portable, accessible, and protected. If you are looking for a bag for smaller cameras, you might want to check out still-photo backpacks and slings. Whichever one you are looking at, padding, configurable interior, and comfortable straps ought to be high on your list of criteria.

Vanguard Up-Rise II 46 Photo Backpack

All-in-One Bags

If you want to make a big impression, then I recommend just getting a complete kit ready to go. Sony makes a variety of it calls a “Video Journalist Backpack,” which is available with a variety of cameras and accessories. These are the big-ticket items, and they cost more than any car I’ve ever bought—but then again, you don’t generally use a car to shoot movies unless you’re driving the car for your young filmmaker’s chase scene and there’s an action camera mounted on the car. So there is that. On the more affordable end is the VJBK2TX70, which includes the PXW-X70 Camcorder that shoots HD out of the box and can be upgraded to 4K with a paid firmware upgrade. Tripod, teleprompter set up, backpack, rolling cart, and tablet for editing are all included making these kits a one stop shop to outfit your young filmmaker and start them on their journey.

MaxxMove Automobile Kit for GoPro HERO Cameras

Do you have any ideas for good gifts for young filmmakers? What do you think of our gear suggestions? Share them in the Comments section, below.