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Looking for a good gift to get your filmmaking friends for the holidays? Raindance has just the guide you need:


This article was originally written by the Raindance team. Visit raindance.org for more insightful coverage of the film industry. 

You’re really busy. You’ve got a hundred things to do before the weekend, parties to get to and plenty of other things to be getting on with. Buying presents, or writing gift lists for other people to buy you presents from, probably isn’t a distraction you need.

Luckily, we’re here to help – so peruse our list of film orientated gifts for yourself or a loved one…


Setting off on your filmmaking journey but you’re not sure where to start? Most professionals will tell you to jump in feet first and immerse yourself in the film world.

Here are a few suggestions, both inspirational and practical, to help get you started:



Film posters are cool. Alternative and ‘unknown’ is even cooler, right? So how about some alternative film posters…Matt Owen is a fantastic designer who favours the minimalist style, and Matt Needle works in a similar vein. Olly Moss makes some beautiful, smart images, as do Ibraheem Youssef and Jen Mussari.

Or how about Simon Larkin, whose London based whatisbobo.com does lots of cool DVD jackets, movie banners and posters? It was Simon who created the stunning graphic for Deadly Virtues.



Get a monthly fix of film chat in your life. Take the highbrow route, feel serious and worthy with Sight & Sound, get a little more trendy (that’s still a totally hip word to use, right?) with Little White Lies, or dive into moviemaking itself with Filmmaker. OR you could keep it mainstream and get Empire or Total Film.

Films and Box Sets


There are so many options to choose from here, which is why it’s hard to recommend anything in particular.

Instead of getting too specific, here are some distributors we love:

These days, if you’re going to buy someone a physical copy of a film, it’d better be a special one. Two companies spring to mind, Eureka’s Masters of Cinema and Criterion. Both present high quality transfers of the films themselves and pack out the rest of the disc and case with fantastic extras. N.B. Criterion is U.S. based and therefore needs importing, and care taken re: regions.

BFI have an excellent catalogue of excellent films, including, for example, their 3 Kurosawa collections.

Dogwoof  is where it’s at for documentaries.

Terracotta  collect the best of independent Asian cinema.

Artificial Eye appeal to the Sight and Sound crowd – lots of serious European arthouse work.

Vertigo  do a little bit of everything, and there are some real gems to be found here.

And if you want one box set we say keep it classic.

The Alfred Hitchcock Masterpieces collection on Blu-Ray is worth a look – which is well accompanied by the BFI’s celebratory collection of essays on the master of suspense.



The top five recommended books for any new film-maker are:

1) Hitchcock/Truffaut by Francois Truffaut

This first book has been described as “A wonderful mix of film history, criticism, theory and application of principles from two masters of the art form.”, a book to start challenging you film knowledge.

2) The Independent Film Producer’s Survival Guide: A Business and Legal Sourcebook by Gunnar Erickson, Harris Tulchin and Mark Halloran.

This essential guide written by three lawyers covers the vitals on producing and marketing, along with how to acquire music and location rights and how to hire directors and actors, making it a vital guide for anyone wishing to make it as an independent film-maker.

3) In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch

This next book focusses on why we are drawn to film, and how editing can add to the magic of film-making.

4) Kazan On Directing by Elia Kazan

Kazan, director of A Streetcar Named Desire and On The Waterfront, gives unique access into his filmmaking techniques and gives great insight into the world of one of the most influential directors in history.

5) Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking by Elliot Grove

This is one of the best and most popular indie film-making books around. Here, Raindance and BIFA founder Elliot Grove uses his 23 years’ experience in the film industry to teach you how to effectively plan, write, produce, shoot, edit and market a low-budget feature. Easy to read, easy to understand!

Finally, no stocking would be complete without Kim Jong Il’s texts On the Art of Cinema and The Character and the Actor.

Filmmaker’s Toolkit


FatMax Measuring Tape /// £ 14.64

An essential: you’ll need this to measure distances for pulling focus and because this tape measure is so thick (the “fat” part of the max) it will stay taught up to 11 feet, which is more than enough length.

Clapper board & Insert Slate /// £9.44

The Clapper board is a great companion for your first few shoots and a vital piece of equipment for any filmmaker. Insert slates have also been recommended; they’re perfect for tight spaces or when you’re shooting 2nd Unit/B-Roll type stuff. You can also fit them in a pouch or pocket without having to worry about losing them.

Highlander Thermo Survival Blanket /// £6.99

This has been hailed as an essential (albeit slightly unorthodox) piece of kit to have with you on set. It can protect you from blood, the hot sun, cameras in the rain and keep you warm on cold winter mornings.

USB Lens Light /// £5.05

“But this is for reading under the covers late at night” I hear you say! True BUT you can bend it over the top of the camera or around the side to illuminate the markings on a lens for when shooting in dark areas, making it a cheap and effective way to light dark areas.

Lens Pen /// £10.25

The humble lens pen is modestly priced at under £4 and will be a handy little addition to your kit. With a brush at one end and a carbon fiber tip at the other, it’s a powerful lens cleaning tool crammed into a handy pen-size container.



Sign someone up to an organisation and you’ll be giving them a gift present that lasts an entire year. The obvious choice is of course Raindance, which will give you access to our screenplay and document library which includes hundreds of scripts and useful documents for filmmakers. You can also get 15% off Raindance courses amongst other exclusive goodies throughout the year.

The BFI is also a handy membership to have, as are cinema ones. Keep things cheap and cheerful with the Prince Charles Cinema, go upmarket indie with Curzon and Picturehouse, or full mainstream with the Cineworld Unlimited card.


So you have an idea of a project you would like to work on, where do you go from there? Here are some tools to beef up your survival kit with good quality products and some courses to kick start your career.


Nikon D5500 Digital DSLR with 18 – 55 mm /// £559.47

This little beauty has some terrific features, including a Vari-angle touch screen/electronic viewfinder, 1080p with continuous live view AF, 39-point AF, 24.2 MP and picture control (flat profile is beloved of filmmakers for preserving details which can be enhanced in post-production).

Opteka CXS-1 Video Shoulder System ///  £64.31

Shooting a film with a handheld cam, be that for effect of for budget, can be tricky for even the steadiest of hands. This lightweight aluminum and stainless-steel shoulder rig has foam padding for comfort and stability.

Canon EOS Rebel T4i (650D) 18-135mm IS STM Lens Kit /// £569.95

This is the one item that an ambitious filmmaker should own. It may be pricey, but the 18-megapixel Rebel shoots 1080p HD video to rival cameras that cost a significant amount more and also include a good all-purpose starter lens. Key feature: focus via touchscreen.

Olympus LS-100 Audio Recorder /// £449.99

If you want to capture every syllable of actors’ dialogue, this two-channel audio recorder with shotgun mic will do the job. Its sturdy construction ensures that it will last for a long time.

Raindance Courses


If you know you want to make film, but are unsure about which discipline you would like to go into, then it’s a great idea to try our film-makers courses to test the water in a wide range of departments:

Saturday Film School– This training day is a great way to give you an overview of film-making by touching upon writing, The Process Of Making Of MovieHow To Direct A Film and then finishing off with advice on How To Break Into The Movie Industry.

Intro to Screenwriting – Do you think your interest may lie in screenwriting? Well, this one day course covers Writing the Screenplay, discussing Characters, Story Structure and Planning, followed by Writing for Low Budgets, which focusses on how to write for that first film, and How To Play With Genre.

Maybe you know exactly what you would like to do! If so, then these courses are definitely for you:

Film-maker’s Foundation Certificate– If you enjoyed Saturday Film School, then perhaps you want to take it further with this five day course, which details how to Write & Shoot Low-Budget Films and How to Break in to the Film Industry.

Writer’s Foundation Certificate Idea generation and Formatting, Character, Plot and Structure creation, and will end with a Pitching Skills Workshop. 

Director’s Foundation Certificate Screenplay, how to Work With Actors In Rehearsal and On Set, the technical aspects and ‘Grammar’ of Directing, and, finally, what the director actually does On the Day of the Shoot and how to best Work with an Editor.

Technical Foundation Certificate– Split over five evenings, this certificate focuses on the following: Power of Sound, Power of DSLR, Power of Editing, Power of Lighting and Power of Special Effects, giving you an acute insight into each faction of teching for film.

Documentary Foundation Certificate Maybe Documentary making is your thing? If so, then this certificate will give you the skills required to develop a Distinctive Documentary Idea, give guidance on How to Film & Find The Right People to appear, help with Shooting and Editing your Film AND Shape Your Finished Film into a story that works both dramatically and emotionally.

Producers Foundation Certificate – If the Director is Captain of the ship, then the Producer is the Royal Navy. Learn how to Plan a Shoot, Raise the Money, Stay on Budget, get through the minefield of Legalities and Bureaucracy and Market and Sell your feature film. A very popular class that instantly de-mystifies the film-making process!



Brookstone HDMI Pocket Projector /// £432.00

Once you’ve shot your magnum opus, show it off. This device projects up to 60 inches in full 1080p HD at 85 lumens and comes with an HDMI cable. Unspeakably cool and unspeakably nerdy.

Litepanels Micro LED /// £125.00

Now that you’re a pro, you can upgrade from the lights that you once used. Illuminate a scene with this panel that mounts directly onto a DSLR. Adjustable via a dimmer dial, the light runs for 1.5 hours on four AA batteries, and will not get hot thanks to the LEDs.

Film Courses

Basic Cinematography–  Have you always wanted to know what happens after extensive talks with a director about his project? Where you should start technically? What’s the best format for your film? How to choose right equipment? AND what you need and how you should prepare for the job? Then this course will answer all of your prayers.

Fast Track Producers/Writers/Directors– Whether you are thinking of  writing a script, creating a business plan for a feature, short or documentary, or if you are thinking of taking your directing skills to the next level, then this is a great course to get your projects planned and financed.

Hands on Directing Part I with Patrick Tucker – This great course deals with advanced screen acting, auditions and interviews, advanced staging, screen composition, the single developing shot and different styles of directing and will really give you the confidence to work within all departments.

Marketing and Selling Your Film– So you have a film ready to be shown to the world? Now what? Learn how to approach film festivals and film markets with a strong press kit, which will enhance the commercial potential of your film.

The Short Film Project– Think you can’t plan and shoot a film in a week? Well you thought wrong! Here you’ll learn all there is to know about working on a film set and what it takes to produce a short feature in a matter of days.

*** Did you know that all Raindance courses are FREE to our Postgraduate Film Degree students?


Got any suggestions? Let us know in the comments below!

Posted on Dec 7, 2015

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