5 Must-Have Pieces of Gear Every Filmmaker Should Get

After shooting for a few years (or decades in some cases), filmmakers will begin compiling a reliable kit that contains all types of equipment that they need.

Figuring out what is worth it and what to leave behind can be a long process. And, as is often the case, it is often the smaller items that can make the biggest impact on your everyday workflow.

Filmmaker Ryan Kao has been shooting for a bit now and has his own set of essential equipment that he wishes he picked up sooner.

This gear can be personal to each person, but checking out what other people use is a great place to find those hidden gems.

1. D-Tap to USB-C Cable

Ryan starts off with just a cable, but one that has been immensely helpful. The Kondor Blue D-Tap to USB-C Cable is a way for him to cut down on the number of chargers and cables in his kit.

These cables let you power up any of your USB-C devices from any battery with a D-Tap connection. It also supports up to 65W of output, so that means you can even add some juice to a laptop if you want.

Kondor Blue D-Tap to USB-C Cable

Image Credit: Kondor Blue

The neat trick with this cable is that it is bi-directional. This means that when you need to charge up your D-tap batteries you’ll be able to use a standard USB-C charger.

One set of chargers and cables for everything. Those USB chargers are likely smaller than your older V-mount battery chargers too.

2. Hard Cases

Something that a lot of people have already seen is a hard case. When you travel a hard case is undeniably the best way to keep your gear safe.

Nanuk has been one of the best lately and they have an entire series of all different sizes and a variety of organizer options so that you can make your kit work.

Nanuk 935 Hard Case

Image Credit: Nanuk

If you want a good one to start, the Nanuk 935 is the classic carry-on size roller bag that can hold of ton of equipment. The latches are very secure and strong and the wheels are larger and softer for easier rolling. The handle is easy to grab and can be secured out of the way.

3. On-Camera Monitor

Everyone should have an on-camera monitor. They will make getting your shot right so much easier.

Ryan uses the Portkeys BM7 II, which is actually a relatively affordable model. On-camera monitors give you a much brighter and sharper view than the one that is on the back of your camera.

Portkeys BM7 II On-Camera Monitor

Image Credit: Portkeys

In addition to just being a better display, you can attach your monitor in the place that you want it.

They also come loaded with helpful features like LUTs, focus assists, exposure tools, and more. Some will even record video in better formats that your camera will record internally.

Seriously, get an on-camera monitor soon if you are serious about filmmaking.

4. NLE (DaVinci Resolve)

You’ll definitely need to find an NLE you are comfortable with and works well if you want to actually get your footage off the camera and in front of others.

Ryan actually has moved on from Premiere Pro and moved on to DaVinci Resolve. A lot of people have made this switch since Blackmagic has made such dramatic improvements to the software over the past few years.

DaVinci Resolve 18

Image Credit: Blackmagic Design

DaVinci is also an affordable option with a free version that anyone can get started with. The new features they keep adding and the built-in color grading and effects tools are some of the best in the business and everyone should check it out.

5. A Solid Tripod

If there is anything in filmmaking where you should “buy once, cry once” it is a tripod.

Nobody likes carrying them around, a lot of people are just using gimbals and getting incredible results, but you still can’t beat a solid tripod. And you should definitely just get a nice, solid tripod.

Sachtler flowtech 75 Video Tripod

Image Credit: Sachtler

Cheap tripods can often be frustrating since they are a pain to use and often have issues with stability. Buy a nice tripod early in your career and you’ll be much happier.

For a recommendation, Ryan has been using the Sachtler Flowtech 75 with a Benro BV8H Video Head.

It’s a nice tripod that will hold a serious cinema camera with ease and has some of the smoothest height adjustment of many tripods these days.

Benro BV8H Video Head

Image Credit: Benro

If that is still way outside your budget then you might want to check out the SmallRig FreeBlazer AD-100. This is a solid tripod and is still very affordable.

SmallRig Freeblazer AD-100 Video Tripod

Image Credit: SmallRig

That’s the list and it is a good list. Most of this stuff is what I recommend to starting filmmakers already. Is there anything you would add?

[source: Ryan Kao]

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