If you need gift-giving inspiration this holiday season or you just want something easy to send to your grandparents who try their best to understand your strange digital hobby, this is the guide for you. We’ve got expensive options and completely free options to support your favorite filmmaker, so it’s safe to say that regardless of circumstance, we got you covered.
A DSLR Canon EOS Rebel T6 Model is a versatile camera you can gift to beginners and even advanced filmmakers. It sells for about $350 on amazon, and can shoot just about anything! If you have a slightly larger budget it is best to purchase an all-inclusive camera package that include tripods, extra lenses, and memory cards for about $500.
T6 Canon: Purchase here.
Camera Bundle: Purchase here.
Stabilizers are essential for getting quality shots and cinematic camera movement, and they usually come in two forms: tripods and stabilizing grips. These items are pretty cheap on amazon and can be purchased for about $60 or less.
Stabilizer: Purchase here.
Tripod: Purchase here.
Built-in recording devices on camera don’t cut it anymore. However, external mics such as shotgun mics and lavalier clips run from $70 and $15 respectively. RODE have the best shotgun mics, but you can find comparable ones for cheaper. PRO TIP! Don’t go cheap in this category, you get what you pay for.
Shotgun Mic: Purchase here.
Lavalier Mic: Purchase here.
Easily spice up your lighting (indoors and out) with a reflector pack. They usually come with 3-5 pieces and all you really need is a white, black, and warm reflector to diffuse light for a cinematic look. They run around $20 and wrap up into a bag about the size of a notebook. Sometimes reflectors still don’t provide enough light, in this case you may need to purchase an LED light that can attach to your camera, which go for about $20 as well.
Reflector: Purchase here.
LED: Purchase here.
External hard drive, $84
If you’ve never tried to keep video files on a laptop before, let me break it down: it’s basically impossible. Any filmmaker at any level is always in need of extra storage. This Transcend hard drive is durable, able to withstand any on-set shenanigans, and super portable.
Over-Ear headphones, $30
To test out sound/rehearsal scene to make sure the sound is working correctly, or just to look very cool in front of your crew.
Apple boxes, $38
Apple boxes are used for a variety of things on set- to make short actors taller, to make furniture fit into frame better, and even to give your DP a place to sit when filming at an awkward level. Plus, in between shoots, apple boxes can be used as furniture in their own right, or as step stools!
Blackout curtains, $34
When filming indoors, one of the hardest things to contend with is lighting, and the best way to manage that is to just block out all natural light and start from scratch so you can keep it consistent no matter what time of day you start. Thus, blackout curtains that you can hang or even duct tape over a window are a must.
Portable Phone Chargers, $25
People always forget these on shoots, and outlets are usually reserved for lighting and camera.
Pocket Knife/Swiss Army Knife, $22
Can cut through any prop and help make quick fixes to other equipment. Having a portable tool to manage all the last-minute problems can be a lifesaver!
Old/broken phone, free!
One of the most obvious and yet most forgotten prop to account for is a cell phone. In many cases, using someone’s actual phone is risky or not reliable, so a gift of old or broken cell phones is always welcome! Similarly, if you have an old case or two, throw ‘em in!
Headphone set, $39
Similarly to the above phone prop, no one ever wants to use their actual headphones in a scene, because headphones are precious and no one has more than one pair on them at a time. A set of multi-colored cheap headphones allows your filmmaker the ability to pair colors with certain characters and not ask anyone to sacrifice their own property for the sake of a scene.
Fake Blood, $9
Just because a web series creator is doing a show about two roommates in an apartment doesn’t mean they won’t at some point require fake blood. Maybe don’t ask too many questions after gifting this one, though.
Fairy lights, $17
Never film against a white wall. However, depending on how available a location is or how cool they are letting you put holes in that boring white wall, this rule can be difficult to follow. A simple strand of fairy lights can both increase the texture of the background but also is super easy to put up- you can do it with scotch tape leaving minimal-to-no residue on the wall! The photo here is an example of these lights in action!
Space canvas set, $22
Similar to the above advice, versatile poster or canvas image sets are a great option for filmmakers looking to dress up an apartment without spending too much time agonizing over it. These space prints are great because they don’t feature copyrighted logos, there are four in a set to cover more wall area(s), and they’re non-specific enough to work with most decor needs.
Photo frames (10 pc set), $30
Adding frames to photos not only immediately dresses up a set, but it also adds a whole new layer of texture to an otherwise flat wall. Besides, most people already have photos to put in frames.
If your filmmaker doesn’t have photos on hand, though, or you want to gift them slightly nicer images sans copyright issues, get them some prints! Source nice nature and architecture sites from friends and family to make it a personalized, heartfelt option to decorate their sets. Get them a variety of photo types and sizes so they can mix and match!