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10 Essential Filmmaking Items Under $50


We spend a lot of time talking about the latest and greatest cameras and lenses. Like, a lot of time. There are a ton of little things that might make an even bigger difference than the latest camera tech. Some accessories are absolutely essential and don’t even cost that much.

I’m sure you have those tiny things in your kit that you wouldn’t show up to set without. If you need some help building out your kit or are looking for some ideas then filmmaker Rob Trent put together a good list of 10 essential filmmaking items. The best part? All of them cost under $50.

1. Think Tank Photo Cable Management Bags

These are some compact bags, available in smaller 10 and larger 20 versions, that are perfect for holding all your little accessories. HDMI cables, clamps, mounts, etc.

Having it well organized is going to make it faster to fine your little pieces just when you need them. The couple sizes make it easier to organize different types of items. It also makes it less likely to forget something if it has a dedicated home.

Image Credit: Think Tank

2. Fanny Pack

A small bag or fanny pack on your person at all times is perfect for carrying around often used tools. Rob likes the simple but effective Carhartt Adjustable Waist Pack.

It’s a bit nondescript so it blends in and makes sure you don’t lose anything. What you may pack in there could change depending on the job for the day. Having essentials like a pocket knife or personal items like chapstick is useful.

3. Multi-Tool

If you work with camera gear you need to have a multi-tool on you. Tightening up mounts or supports and removing accessories or plates makes them so important. Camera-specific ones, like the ones from RED or SmallRig, have the perfect sizes for most filmmaking items.

Image Credit: RED

4. Elastic Cable Ties

Having some elastic cable ties around are great for securing little bits and pieces, including cables. Needing to tie down some pieces is a common occurrence and these do a good job without being overly complicated.

5. Baby Pin to 1/4”-20 Adapter

This is not a common adapter, but I’m sure you can find a use for it. A baby pin to 1/4”-20 adapter allows you to mount basically any standard device to a light stand. Sometimes you just need to set something like a director’s monitor or a weird camera mount and these are simple and will do it.

6. 5-in-1 Reflector

A reflector is one of the simplest and most impactful modifiers you can use for lighting. The 5-in-1 collapsible reflectors are a mandatory purchase since it allows you to quickly and easily fill in some light and add some warmth or negative fill when you need it. Plus they collapse down for easy travel.

Image Credit: Raya

7. Clamps

Basic clamps are used all the time. You can pick them up for cheap practically anywhere. Another thing for mounting or securing some of your accessories. If you are on a set you will see some of these hanging around and the possibilities are endless.

8. Mirror

A small 12” mirror can be used for interesting lighting effects. Epoxy a baby pin wall mount to the back and then you can bounce light off it. Using tape or markings you can throw a different type of lighting look on your files.

9. Barndoors

Rob is calling out a modifier for lights that is worth picking up if you don’t already have it: barndoors. The Aputure option is a set that also features a magnetic gel holder and honeycomb grid. It gives you amazing control over your lighting fixture and allows you to focus or modify the light in multiple ways.

Image Credit: Aputure

10. Good Water Bottle

This is just a good general tip to drink enough water. Long days on set can be hard on the body and staying hydrated is critical to staying healthy. A good way to stay on top of that is with your own personal water bottle. A good recommendation is the YETI Rambler 26 oz Bottle.

11. SD Card Reader

Going above the 10 you will find an SD card reader as an essential item. So many devices record to SD cards, from cameras to audio recorders and more. Having an SD card reader is just critical these days. Getting a good fast reader will help you offload data quickly and efficiently. 

Image Credit: ProGrade Digital

Do you have any essential and affordable items you can’t live without?

[source: Rob Trent]

Order Links:

  • Think Tank Photo Cable Management 20 V2.0 (B&H)
  • Think Tank Photo Cable Management 10 V2.0 (B&H)
  • Carhartt Adjustable Waist Pack (Amazon)
  • RED SIDEWINDER Multi-Tool (B&H)
  • SmallRig AAK2213C Multi-Tool (B&H, Amazon)
  • Elastic Cable Ties (B&H)
  • Impact Rapid Baby to 1/4”-20 Adapter (B&H)
  • Raya 5-in-1 Collapsible Reflector (B&H)
  • Impact Steel Spring A-Clamp (B&H)
  • 12″ Mirror (Amazon)
  • Aputure Barndoors for LS 120d & LS 300d (B&H, Amazon)
  • YETI Rambler 26 oz Water Bottle (Amazon)
  • ProGrade Digital Dual-Slot SD Card Reader (B&H, Amazon)


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