It's that time of year again, and if you're finding yourself pressed for time and at a loss for what to get the filmmaker in your life (or yourself) for the Holidays, we've come up with a bunch of ideas to make gift giving a little easier on you. So, whether you're buying for a screenwriter, cinematographer, or director, we're sure you'll find something on the list to fit their needs and your budget.
Lenspen -- Lenses get dirty, and our greasy, sticky fingers/shirts will not cut it. There are lots of special cloths out there that will wipe away the smudges, but if you want something cooler looking and -- pen-like, well, there's the Lenspen. We've mentioned the Nikon Lens Pen before, which is also great (and less expensive), but Lenspen is another option for you. $5/$15 [Amazon | Lenspen]
Camera Lens Mugs/Shot Glasses -- Because what filmmaker doesn't want to let people know what their passion is during a night of drinking and the subsequent recovery from said night of drinking? $11 for the mug; $12 for the shot glasses [Amazon; ThinkGeek]
This is probably one of the easiest gifts to give, since they're relatively cheap and all filmmakers love watching movies . The Criterion Collection is a great place to find cinema's essential films -- and they come with special cases and extras that are sometimes not on the original DVD. The price per DVD/Blu-ray ranges from $30 to $50 depending on the film/retailer. (If money's no object, box sets are in no short supply. The Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection is on sale for a little over $50 (Amazon), while the Stanley Kubrick Collection is a little more expensive at $115 (Amazon).
Okay, not all filmmakers like to read, but if you're buying for one who does, there are some excellent books out there. We've already compiled a list of helpful and essential books on film, but here's a quick list of a few we haven't mentioned:
- Aristotle's Poetics (as well as Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters by Michael Tierno)
- Screenplay by Syd Field (or anything Syd has written)
- Hitchcock/Truffaut by François Truffaut
- Writer's Guide to Character Traits by Dr. Linda Edelstein
- Directing Actors by Judith Weston
- Sculpting in Time by Andrei Tarkovsky
Filmmaker Magazine Subscription -- This is a great quarterly magazine that I can say has taught me a lot over the years. They tackle every topic that pertains to filmmaking, so whomever you're buying for will be more than happy receiving each issue in the mail (if you get a print subscription that is). All subscriptions are 40% off right now and are available in a print, digital, or iPad version (the print subscription includes both a digital and iPad subscription as well). $18/$10/$6/$5.99/$2.99 [FILMMAKER]
American Cinematographer Subscription -- AC is an important publication for those interested in cinematography. New issues go out every month that take a closer look at working cinematographers, cameras, lenses, and all things cinematic. Every month, I look forward to sitting down with a cup of coffee and reading the interviews with key DPs in the industry as well as the up-and-comers. Print/digital/iPad/iPhone 6-month, 1, 2, and 3-year subscriptions are on sale now! $17/$30/$60/$90 [American Cinematographer]
American-De Rosa 500w Dimmer -- Having dimmers around on-set makes lighting a little bit easier. The American-De Rosa 500w Dimmer is a great option for any cinematographer looking for a decent dimmer. $25 [Filmtools]
RØDEGrip -- For all of those filmmakers who hate change and still have their iPhone 4/4s, the RØDEGrip is a great stabilization solution. This multipurpose mounting chassis allows users to mount their iPhones in a bunch of different ways, making for more diverse cinematography for smartphone filmmaking. $39 [B&H]
Lee Master Pack of Lighting Gels -- If you want to get all the gels you or your filmmaking buddies will need as a beginner, this might be the best option. The master pack gets you 36 sheets of a variety of filters, including neutral density, CTOs and CTBs, and diffusion. $49 [Amazon | B&H]
RØDE VideoMic GO -- RØDE provides some excellent audio solutions for filmmakers of all budgetary backgrounds, but if you're trying to keep costs down, the RØDE VideoMic GO is a great gift for indie filmmakers. It's light, compact, and "no fuss", meaning that it's not only portable, but it's easy to use. And for most indie filmmakers who are starting out, those are two major benefits. $99 [B&H]
$100 to $500
Kamerar Follow Focus -- Getting a solid follow focus is an important piece of gear for any serious filmmaker. There are a lot of different follow focuses out there that vary in quality and price, but the Kamerar is a great first follow focus that gives a pretty good bang for your buck. $150 [Amazon]
MustHD On-Camera Field Monitor -- An external monitor can make your life easier and your shots better. These on-camera field monitors by MustHD come in 5-inch, 5.6-inch, and 7-inch LCD displays, with HDMI input/output, focus assistance, as well as lots of other helpful features. It's also compatible with several different kinds batteries. MustHD is also running a sale for the holidays, so if you're looking for a field monitor, now might be the time to pull the trigger on one. $179/$260/$275 [MustHD]
Lastolite Collapsible Green Screen -- Even if they don't work with it a lot (or at all), chances are a filmmaker has some green screen lying around, whether in a sheet or paint can. The Lastolite green screen is great because it's collapsible, which helps if you're working on-the-go, or have to travel a lot for projects. Giving a green screen as a gift would be an excellent idea for a filmmaker who hasn't tried it. Give them a chance to play around with a film tool they haven't had the chance to utilize yet! $230 - $330 [Amazon | B&H]
Zoom H6 Handheld Audio Recorder -- When it comes to handheld audio recording, Zoom has been a solid player for indie filmmakers. The H6, which boasts a pretty significant upgrade from the H4n recorder (which if you're on a tighter budget, wouldn't be a bad gift to give -- I actually received one as a gift one year). It comes with an interchangeable mic system, 4 XLR ports, 6-channel recording, as well as volume knobs allowing for a more tactile experience. $399 [Amazon | B&H]
GoPro Hero3+ -- This gift would be a lot of fun even for filmmakers who don't do much action cam filmmaking. The GoPro Hero3+, though it didn't have as many upgrades as users would've like it to have, records in 4K at 15fps, as well as 2.7K at 30fps, has multiple shooting modes, including SuperView and Auto Low Light, and has a 33% sharper lens than the Hero3. These come in Black and Silver editions. $299 for Silver [Amazon | B&H]; $399 for Black [Amazon | B&H]
Dog Schidt Optiks Lenses -- When it comes to gifts, a filmmaker can always use another good lens. Since there are just way too many to list here, maybe a niche lens will appeal to someone with affinity toward vintage imagery. Dog Schidt Optiks provides a nice collection of vintage Russian lenses that are available for Canon EF, Nikon, and Arri PL mounts, and are also highly customizable. The images they produce are beautiful and unique! $230 - $475 [Dog Schidt Optiks]
$500 and Up
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera -- One of the most expensive stocking stuffers you'll ever buy a filmmaker -- the ultra-portable, Super 16mm sized sensor BMPCC will make a great gift for an indie filmmaker for so many reasons, the two most important being its capabilities as a cinema camera and it's price. For many, it'll be the perfect entry level camera and rivals many DSLRs around its price range. It has a wide dynamic range, records into high quality ProRes 422 (HQ) and lossless compressed CinemaDNG files, and can support a wide range of adapters to convert from MFT to other lens mounts. $995 [Amazon | B&H]
DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter -- When it comes to quadcopters, DJI is the standard. Their newest Phantom 2 Vision copter now comes with its own on-board camera and a host of other upgraded features, including the first integrated mobile phone FPV system. $1,199 [Amazon | B&H]
Digital Bolex D16 Cinema Camera -- Okay, technically this post is focused on "last-minute" gifts, and the chances of you receiving the Digital Bolex in time to wrap in pretty wrapping paper is pretty much impossible. However, if time is not a factor and you don't mind your gift being late to the holiday party, consider getting your Bolex/vintage film-loving friends the D16 Cinema Camera, the new digital cam from Digital Bolex. It emulates the traditional 16mm Bolex camera of yesteryear in terms of form factor and aesthetics, but with the technological advances of today (i.e. it's digital). $3,300 [Digital Bolex]
Freefly MōVI M10 -- When I said $500 and Up, I meant it. The MōVI is a handheld gimbal stabilization system that took the cinematic world by storm back in April during NAB. After it's unveiling, a slew of gimbal stabilizers came on the scene with much lower prices, but why not dream about giving (receiving) the gimbal that took cinematography to a new level? $14,995 [Freefly Systems]
If you have any other gift ideas (there are TONS!) feel free to share them in the comments below.
[Image by 7th House on the Left]
What about a muse?
December 13, 2013 at 6:28PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM
I would like one, please.
December 13, 2013 at 7:29PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM
What about the Tascam DR-60D?
December 13, 2013 at 6:34PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM
Awesome! Easy wish list, I'll just post this to my Facebook! :)
December 13, 2013 at 6:43PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM
Gaffer tape, lots and lots of gaffer tape.
December 13, 2013 at 9:09PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM
PEACE ON EARTH!!!!
December 14, 2013 at 6:20AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM
I think I've received about 6 camera lens mugs over the last few years... *shudders*
December 14, 2013 at 9:41AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM
Great list, except for the lens pen. NEVER use a lens pen or anything else that you wipe more than once over a lens. Use disposable lens paper and a proper lens cleaning solution.
December 14, 2013 at 9:50AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM
Agreed. The brush part I think is ok for a light dust when you dont have time for paper but I would never use the disk part of a lens pen.
December 14, 2013 at 3:43PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM
Ha! I just got a lens mug from a buddy today. I was hoping for the MoVI gizmo, but...maybe next year.
December 19, 2013 at 5:34PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM