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10 Tools Every DP Should Have in their Kit

Posted by Brad Spinsby on July 30, 2014

So you have been in contact with your client. You have set up the shoot day logistics, and you’re confident that everything will go well. Then you go to set-up for the shoot and realize you have forgotten something. Every Director of Photography has a basic kit they bring with camera, lights, and audio but outside of those main elements here are 10 items that are important for every DP onsite.

Ten: Gaff Tape is one of the most important items in a DPs kit. Gaff tape can be used in so many situations and the main benefit is that it can be removed without leaving any residue. If you’re shooting on location in a corporate office, the client wants you to arrive and depart without any remnants of ever being there. Clients are not happy when you leave tape reside on their nice marble floors.

Nine: Craig Campbell, Crews Control represented DP, says that he always carries a lipstick brush with him on his shoots. Not too worry, it is not a cosmetic brush for the DP, but a brush for the lens that is more effective than a lens cloth. Craig says, “It looks like it sounds, a lipstick brush can fit in a small pocket, and you dial from the bottom to reveal the brush inside once the cap is removed. Often you can smudge the lens with a cloth, so a brush allows for super quick cleaning in-between takes.”

Eight: Don’t forget the batteries and charger. Have you ever mounted your battery only to realize it is completely dead? You can buy yourself some charging time while you set-up your lights with a battery charger. If you are near an outlet you can also run you camera off of AC power.

Seven: Always bring a small flashlight. Crews Control Director of Photography, Barry Conrad, says, “ I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to grope around in the dark looking for an item in a pinch, especially small things like, CF Cards, SD Cards, camera release plate, or a special screw.”

Six: Ever hear the overused expression “Is there an app for that?” In video productionthere are many useful apps to assist in production. An app can save the day for any budget conscious shoots. They have apps for light meters, slates, data calculation, prompting, and field guides for equipment, and they can be an excellent resource onsite.

Five: Barry Conrad suggests you always bring safety gear such as gloves and kneepads. Lights get hot and a pair of leather utility gloves is inexpensive. He also suggests knee pads that you can find at a sporting goods store. He said, “I was working on a commercial in which I needed to be out of the field of the view of several cameras. The only place to work safely in order for the director not to yell at me for getting in the way was to angle myself at near floor level. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any knee-pads with me that day so I learned the hard way.”

Four: When working in the corporate video production world interviewees are not Hollywood starlets and movie hunks. This means they may not have the perfect hairline, perfect skin or own personal makeup artist. A small powder kit for shine control is a must. Craig Campbell says, “My other must-have is a small powder kit to be used on those shoots when the crew budget is too small for a stylist. Remember to clean make-up brushes after each shoot as a courtesy to the next talent.”

Three: On location, a DP is very similar to a handyman he must have some versatile tools to do the job correctly. One of the tools that should be required in your kit is a multi-tool, made famous by the manufacturer Leatherman. These multi-tools give you several tools for those handyman situations that may come up on your film location site.

Two: Always bring extra acquisition media and a laptop or media transfer device. Barry Conrad says “Needless to say, in today’s digital age, you never know how long a shoot will be. . We’ve all had those days where there is very little time to even take a sip of water let along concentrate on media management. So I always try to bring extra cards, if possible, on any shoot regardless of how seemingly simple the project may sound.”

One: A positive attitude is the best tool for any Director of Photography to have. Crews Control Production Manager Cricket Capucci says, “Patience is an important thing.” With patience and a positive attitude even the most difficult situations can be resolved. And both the client and the crew can walk away from a shoot feeling like it was a positive experience.

What tools does your camera and video crew have on hand in your grip kit? Please comment and share with us here, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


  1. No makeup artist-no problem. Along with gaffer tape, clothespins and sash cord I carry “The Shine Control Kit”. If the production your on can’t afford a makeup artist, this kit saves the day every time. I recommend this kit to any cinematographer, videographer or still photographer who sometimes just needs to take down the shine on their subject’s complexion. Regardless of the skin tone, complexion or age of your on-camera talent, this kit works. You can find more info at http://www.filmandvideolighting.com

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