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10 Gifts for the Aspiring Filmmaker

For those not involved with the industry choosing a gift for an aspiring filmmaker can be difficult, so we at motionpicturemaker.com put our heads together and came up with a list of some of the best products we've come across in 2023. Read on for some great gift ideas!

The Leatherman

An image showing numerous Leatherman Multi-tools laid out on a blue background.

On the first day of my first job in the industry I was told to buy a Leatherman. It seemed like a lot of money to part with at the time, but these tools are built to last, and worth every penny. Leatherman offer a wide variety of multi-tools, with varying prices, depending on how many tools you're looking for. The multi-tool I ended up purchasing is similar to the Leatherman Rebar - it's proved to be very useful for my work in the film industry, as well as my everyday life… in fact, I'm still using it regularly 30 years on.

Shop for Leatherman Multi-tools on Amazon

Kondor Blue Mini Quick Release Plate

Product image showing the Kondor Blue Mini QR Plate.

The Kondor Blue Mini Quick Release Plate makes a great gift or stocking stuffer. Like the Leatherman, it's versatile, allowing you to connect all kinds of things to a camera rig. It provides quick-release functionality between cameras and accessories like cine arms, LED lights, EVF mounts, monitors, microphones, and recorders. This quick release plate even comes with 2 Allen Wrenches to get you up and running quickly. Kondor Blue looks to have recently released a new smaller version too, called the Mini Lock Quick Release Plate.

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Manfrotto GimBoom

The Manfrotto GimBoom featured image with various product shots combined into one image.

The majority of people I've mentioned my Manfrotto GimBoom review to have responded with, "What's a GimBoom?". It's a fairly new product, in an extremely competitive market, but hopefully more video content producers stumble across this one before Manfrotto decides to end-of-life it. I found the GimBoom to be an excellent way to get production value on a minimal budget. Although it can't give you exactly the same results as a slider, drone or jib, it can get you most of the way there. Ultimately, it's a lot easier to carry around a carbon fiber GimBoom than many of the tools it emulates, so I believe this to be a great gift for any aspiring content creator, if they already have a gimbal and want to take things to the next level.

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DJI RS 3 Mini Camera Stabilizer

A DJI lifestyle image showing a DJI RS 3 Mini Gimbal Stabilizer being used to follow a young woman walking happily whilst looking toward the camera.

Although we didn't manage to do a review for the DJI RS 3 Mini camera stabilizer this year, we know it to be a solid gimbal for smaller cameras. Weighing in at only 795g (1.75lbs), with a payload of 2kg (4.4lbs), the RS 3 is compact and light enough for long-term shooting. Any filmmaker or content creator will find this stabilizer to be a useful tool in their arsenal - perfect for everything from a corporate or music video, to a full length indie feature. It's the most expensive item on our list, but it will certainly put a smile on any content creator's face!

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Rain Gear

An image of a woman in the great outdoors wearing a Columbia rain jacket.

Growing up in Calgary, Canada, clothing choices were often based on layers. The weather could literally change from a nice, warm Chinook breeze, to freezing blowing snow in minutes, so being prepared for both scenarios was often prudent… unless you're a teenager - then a t-shirt will somehow work for all occasions. What's a little frostbite after all?

In the motion picture industry, layers are also the key to being comfortable. You're often stuck on set for over 12 hours, so the weather can change dramatically, and if you're unlucky enough to get caught in the rain first thing, it doesn't make for an awesome day. Rain gear is therefore quite important! Having a solid rain jacket that can be rolled up and stuffed in a bag when not in use is something we recommend having at all times. I've personally worn Columbia jackets on set for years, and found them to be solid performers.

Shop for Columbia Rain Jackets on Amazon

The Filmmaker's Handbook

An image showing the filmmaking book, the Filmmaker's Handbook over a grey gradient background.

I highly recommend books to anyone in the industry, whether they're just starting out, or have been slogging away at it for years. Books offer a different perspective, and always educate the reader in some way, shape or form. One book that I consistently returned to in my early filmmaking years was The Filmmaker's Handbook by Steven Ascher and Edward Pincus. Often referred to as the "authoritative guide to producing, directing, shooting, editing, and distributing your video or film", this book covers many topics, including techniques for making content, shooting on various cameras, in-depth coverage of the tools and business behind content creation and how to get your movie seen. I found myself flipping through the pages of The Filmmaker's Handbook time and time again.

Buy The Filmmaker's Handbook now on MPM!

ToughTested Trek – Lantern, Flashlight, Portable Charger

A ToughTested Trek product image.

A flashlight is always an important part of your filmmaking kit, but the ToughTested Trek is much more than just a powerful flashlight - it's also a lantern with variable power settings, an emergency light and a portable charger! Being on set all day drains a phone quickly - being able to top up quickly, without needing a separate power bank, is very helpful. The ToughTested Trek is definitely bigger than the small flashlights I used to carry around on set, but I find all the additional features the Trek offers to be well worth the added weight.

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Aputure MC RGBWW Mini LED Light

An Aputure MC Mini LED Light product image over a red gradient background.

Having a small, powerful LED light handy is always a good thing for a content creator. The Aputure MC Mini LED light is something I've personally found useful for many setups, from adding a bit of fill to a subject, to an on-camera light for streeter interviews. I also use it to add background light, as a kicker/hair light in a pinch, and when I need to illuminate a macro shot. Having personally gifted this light to an aspiring filmmaker, I'm confident it'll be well received.

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SHAPE Camera Bag

A SHAPE SBAG Camera Bag Product Image

The SHAPE Camera Bag is perhaps a little more niche than the other gifts on this list, but it's worth considering for anyone interested in the camera deparment, whether it be a shooter, or an AC. This camera bag is large enough to fit a camera and matte box, and comes with a removable tool pouch, a removable cable pouch, a removable rain/dust cover, and a lid organizer. Dividers can also be purchased separately. Overall, the SHAPE Camera Bag is a great gift for anyone needing to carry around filmmaking gear, particularly those wanting to get into, or already working in, the camera department.

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A Portable, Fast, External Hard Drive

A CalDigit Tuff Nano product image displaying the SSD drive over a colored background with streaks of light overlayed.

Every content creator needs hard drives. Whether it be for video, timelapse sequences, photos, or just to move media around, a hard drive rarely goes unused. Thankfully, with USB finally catching up to Thunderbolt speeds, fast, portable hard drives are becoming more accessible, with better pricing. We use all kinds of drives, from many manufactures, including Western Digital, Samsung, OWC, Glyph, ADATA, CalDigit, and Crucial. We've listed a few good external hard drive gift options below to expedite the selection process.

$319.99 USD
$79.99 USD
$179.95 USD
$129.99 USD

As an affiliate with Amazon and Lumio Canada, motionpicturemaker.com can earn commissions from qualifying purchases. By purchasing products using the links in this article, you're helping us build the ultimate online resource for motion picture enthusiasts. We appreciate that, and hope you'll also sign up to receive industry updates with the MPM NEWSLETTER… or even splurge for a full motionpicturemaker.com membership.

Rob Neilson

Rob Neilson began working in motion pictures over 30 years ago. His credits span numerous departments, currently working mainly as a colorist, editor and producer in Canada, in and around the Vancouver area.

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