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Whether you’re a professional or an amateur filmmaker (or shopping for one), today’s smartphones make it incredibly easy to create your own big-screen worthy content. Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow said at the iPhone 13‘s reveal last year that its cinematic cameras “might even birth a new genre,” and Apple showcased the new iPhone 14 Pro Max’s 48MP camera at the Toronto International Film Festival — but still, it doesn’t hurt to top up on technical knowledge or play with some of the newest toys.
From fancy cameras and precise microphones to sound engineer-approved headphones, there are no shortage of accessories for future directors and cinematographers. And it’s truly a question of personal preference; filmmakers rely on their perfect combination of equipment to produce the look and feel they want. For that very reason, buying the best gift for the aspiring filmmaker in your life can be quite difficult. After all, they probably own what they already want.
Related: The Best Gifts for Digital Nomads, From Smart Office Gear to Tech Must-Haves
Still, there are a few practical and personal gifts that could be an excellent fit for any movie creator you know. Tripods can simplify the content creation experience, while posters and and books also make great gifts for your recent film school grad. A new camera is always among the best gifts for film students on a budget, along with laptop-friendly backpacks that let them work from anywhere.
So, whether your recipient is just starting out or has a wealth of experience (or maybe you’re treating yourself to new gear), here’s an eclectic selection of the best gifts for filmmakers.
1. Movie Clap Board
Whether they use it as decor or on set, no aspiring filmmaker’s kit is complete without a movie clap board.
2. Storyboard Notebook
They’re going to need a lot of space to jot down their future script and scene ideas, and this Storyboard Notebook has 170 pages for them.
3. Masterclass Subscription
There’s nothing quite like learning from the best. That’s exactly what a Masterclass subscription provides — a series of video lessons from some of the most accomplished professionals in the filmmaking field. Whether your giftee is inspired by Shonda Rhimes’ many hit TV series, Ken Burns’ documentaries or Aaron Sorkin’s quick writing, there’s an ideal class to be found.
4. Logitech Craft Advanced Wireless Keyboard
Logitech’s Craft Advanced wireless keyboard has a convenient input dial that gives users complete control on a range of apps, including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and InDesign; and Microsoft PowerPoint, Excel and Word. Giftees will also appreciate the backlit keys that automatically adjust to the lighting conditions in their space, and the responsive, quiet keys are optimized for efficiency and precision.
5. Joby Gorilla Pod
Joby’s original Gorilla Pod offers a crucial amount of versatility when filming. Able to function as a regular tripod, it’s an excellent complement to any camera (even smartphones) and is great for curved, uneven surfaces. If they’re into livestreaming or creating content for social, the company’s PodZilla and the Beamo LED light are also some of the best gifts for online content creators.
6. Regeneration: Black Cinema, 1898 to 1971 by Doris Berger and Rhea L. Combs
Available Oct. 18, Regeneration: Black Cinema explores the overlooked history of Black filmmakers, performers and producers such as Lena Horne, Bert Williams, Oscar Micheaux, Dorothy Dandridge, Herb Jeffires and many, many others. Spanning 288 pages and covering the period between 1898 and 1971, the must-have coffee table book has a foreword by Whoopie Goldberg and includes insightful interviews with award-winning contemporary filmmakers Ava DuVernay, Barry Jenkins, Julie Dash, Charles Burnett and Dawn Porter.
7.100 Movie Set Terms Poster
For movie buffs and filmmakers of all ages, this poster of film terms will help them brush up on their set knowledge — or help them learn new ones.
8. GoPro Hero11 Waterproof Action Camera
Filmmakers have to be ready to adapt to a variety of different climates and conditions, especially if they want to make a documentary. GoPro’s newest Hero11 waterproof action camera boasts 5.3K Ultra HD video that shoots up to 240 fps, a 27MP camera, 2x digital zoom, HyperSmooth 5.0 video stabilization and a HyperView digital lens that offers 8:7 and 9:16 aspect ratios. Content creators will dig the webcam mode for livestreaming and vlogging, and the camera has a rechargeable, long-lasting battery. Of course, GoPro is known for withstanding the elements, so users can shoot under water as deep as 33 feet.
9. Designing Graphic Props for Filmmaking by Annie Atkins
If they’re dedicated to creating the most realistic scenery on their film sets, Dublin-based designer Annie Atkins reveals how to do just that in her 208-page book, Designing Graphic Props for Filmmaking. From invitations, love letters, coffee shop receipts and more ephemera, this book provides endless inspiration.
10. In The Blink of An Eye by Francis Ford Coppola
If your giftee still has quite a lot to learn about editing, In the Blink of An Eye is a good option if they want to soak up tips and tricks from an acclaimed industry veteran. The award-winning book by film editor, director, writer and sound designer Walter Murch is the blueprint for film editing, as Oscar-winning director Francis Ford Coppola (who frequently works with the author) can attest.
11. Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones
A favorite of Oscar-nominated sound editor Julian Slater, Sony’s WH-1000XM5 Bluetooth headphones are also our go-to gear for long flights. They boast an Auto NC Optimizer that adjusts noise canceling based on your environment, and wearers get up to 30 hours of battery life (so they’ll enjoy uninterrupted time whileediting or listening to music).
12. SD Card Holder
Having a number of memory cards going at once is a normal part of being a filmmaker. And a sneakily good gift could be something to keep everything together. Kiorafoto’s card holder can store 12 SD cards and is entirely waterproof.
13. DJI OM 5 Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer
Smartphone cameras are an increasingly viable option for filmmaking. But it’s no good having a top camera if you can’t steady your phone. DJI’s three-axis OM 5 gimbal stabilizer does just that, enhancing the movie production experience for on-the-go content creators and aspiring directors.
14. Pakt The Travel Backpack
Designed in collaboration with gear reviewer Chase Reeves and with the input of over 300 travelers, Pakt’s travel backpack boasts more than 20 features that make it essential for film makers who want to stay organized wherever they’re headed. Made of water-resistant fabric spun from recycled single-use plastics, this carry-on-sized pack has a cool dual-compartment clamshell design with a mesh divider, room for cameras and lenses, a separate laptop compartment, a waterproof section for toiletries (or items that might leak), an exterior water bottle compartment, a hidden back pocket for important documents, a luggage pass-through and plenty of easy-to-adjust straps to keep wearers comfortable.
This book by filmmaker and writer Rickey Bird is a good option for low-budget enthusiasts who are just getting into the filmmaking business. This 288-page guide will teach readers how to shoot “any film project into a piece of art,” as The Walking Dead actor Vincent M. Ward professes. After all, sometimes it can take just one great film to launch a career.
16. Master & Dynamic MW65 Headphones
Movie editing is nearly impossible if you can’t adequately hear every little sound your microphone is picking up. Master and Dynamic leads the industry in sound quality, and the brand’s MW65 headphones feature active noise canceling.
17. Lenovo ThinkVision Monitor
There are tons of good monitors out there, but versatility is key. The Lenovo ThinkVision M14 is one of the best portable monitors for on-the-go video editing, playback, online browsing and movie watching — a perfect combo for a filmmaker. And as far as monitors go, it’s a relatively affordable gift.
18. Billingham Hadley Pro Camera Bag
A proper camera bag is essential for any on-the-go filmmaking enthusiast. One of the best compact camera carryalls for busy shutterbugs is Billingham’s Hadley pro bag made of khaki canvas and leather (available in other colorways). It combines style and substance for a good price, and it fits tons of gear, too.