An Essential List of Lightweight Gear for Filmmaking

Because you want your film gear to last, they are often made of durable materials. Film sets aren’t delicate areas where equipment should be handled with white linen gloves. Dolly tracks and stands are made of steel. HMIs are heat-resistant lights that require multiple people to lift them onto stands. Many people are trying to prevent their backs from becoming brittle by carrying all that equipment around. Here are some light gear that you can use to save weight when filmmaking. Some equipment can be used as a replacement for heavier gear, while others provide alternative tools.

Easyrig

Easyrig has many great products that help you distribute the weight of your camera package to your hips. Although it isn’t lightweight gear technically, it won’t break your back. These are lifesavers and well-worth the investment. Many cinematographers have one. Even though the production may be small, many know that the device will help them in the long-term and save them pain in the short-term.Photo by Alex Depew

Aladdin Bi-Flex 2 Bi-Color LED Panel Kit

LED lights are the latest addition to the world of lighting. LEDs are the most efficient, compact, and easily adjustable way to lighten a film set. Aladdin Bi-Flex is a great tool for many situations. It weighs in at 1 lb, which is a lot less than other light sources. (0.45kg). It’s a versatile mat that can be used in many different ways. You can expect a strong output considering its small size. This makes it ideal for hiding in places where other light sources wouldn’t be able to reach. It is ideal for travel interviews for those who don’t have the time or ability to do everything. It isn’t a substitute for a huge powerful light but with the softbox or a lantern, it could definitely compete with an 800W Tungsten lamp.

MSE RoadRags II

I have an Aladdin and an Easyrig that I use when I need them. I bought the Matthews RoadRags II set. These are the same size as a scrim or flag 24″ X 36″, but they fold down into a compact, travel-friendly kit. The frame is similar to what you’d see on camping tent poles. You can slide your fabric onto it. It is shown in action in the image below, blocking some of the light. They may have trouble in high winds, but they are great indoors!Behind the scenes image from Koza, Dir. Leyla Giraud

Leatherman

A Leatherman is your best friend on the job if you work in a field that requires tools. You don’t have to carry multiple tools. You only need one multi-tool. Is it a replacement for every tool? It can’t replace all your tools. It does, however, save you the time of reaching for your toolbox every so often. You will be glad you have your Leatherman when you’re working on something high up and realize that you need the right tool.

Cinefoil (aka Blackwrap)

You can save money on your set with a variety of expendables, such as cinefoil (or blackwrap) for lighting. This is a sheet of black aluminum that can be easily molded around lights and used to cover a camera’s lens. There are many uses. It is suitable for use with extremely hot lights because it is made from flexible aluminum. This little sheet of crinkly metal saves weight by cutting light and not needing to be supported with a flag.

GafferTape

Gaffer Tape is another useful tool that can be used to repair, hide, hang and tape items. You should pay a wage for it as it can solve many problems. It is so valuable that I included it in my equipment list. Paper tape is a better choice than tape for attaching things to walls. It’s less likely to damage the wall paint. I always keep a set of black and white tapes.

Camping stool

Let me end with my most recent and favorite acquisition. How can you say you’re young without being old? Grab this camping stool, and you can sit down just before the assistant director calls for quiet. As crew members look on, be amazed at how comfortable you are sitting on the stool that was just taken out of your bag. We usually have apple boxes in the lighting department. These are the thrones on which we sit. Some crew members (cough, cough art department) steal them. The stool isn’t usually seen on set, so it is less likely that people will sit on it. You can also write “Property of [Your Name]” if you’re feeling extra generous.