Getting a start in filmmaking requires a lot of pricey gear—not to mention the possible cost of tuition. Most aspiring auteurs struggle to shoulder the investment, so we put together a gift guide for student filmmakers that will help bring big screen dreams to fruition. Unlike a brand new camera or lens, these ideas won’t break the bank, but they will inject some inspiration into winter break (and future semesters).

 

Cloud Storage Subscription

There are three key steps to avoiding the heartbreak of lost footage: 1) save, 2) backup, 3) repeat steps one and two endlessly until the project is over. These cloud services allow students to easily access their work from anywhere while also preserving it from a doomsday-esque hard drive meltdown.

Untitled-6-minGoogle Drive
$119.88/ year for 1TB of space
Untitled-7-minAmazon Cloud Drive
$59.99/ year for unlimited file uploads
Untitled-8-minDropbox
$99/ year for 1TB of space

 

Trade Magazines

Things change quickly in the filmmaking realm and trades will keep your star pupil “in the know” with all the top trends and techniques. These magazines focus on the cutting-edge of the craft, which is where every student wants to be.

Untitled-9-minVariety
$79/ year, 48 issues
Untitled-10-minFilmmaker
$18/ year for print, 4 issues
Untitled-11-minCinema Scope
$40/ year, 4 issues

 

MoviePass

Untitled-1

Unlimited movie tickets start at $30/ month ($35/ month in some areas)

To be a great writer, one has to be a great reader. The same goes for filmmakers—you need to spend some serious time at the movie theater if you hope to learn by osmosis from the masters. A MoviePass subscription will keep any student up to their eyeballs in the latest feature films.

 

 

 

 

Untitled-14Roku 2

$65.99 on Amazon

Millennials are dedicated streamers. Today’s college students rely on their laptops to catch up on new releases and Netflix series, so we recommend the Roku 2. Unless you already own a wealth of iTunes media, it’s the clear winner in features and functionality (and the Apple TV costs twice as much).

 

 

 

 

min1-1iRig Pre

$35.17 on B&H Photo

We recommended the iRig Pre in last year’s budget filmmaker gift guide, but this mobile preamp is perfect for the students too. It’s affordable and solves the problem that a lot of DSLR filmmakers face: the lack of a proper microphone jack.

 

 

 

 

Untitled-13Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

$15.98 in paperback at Barnes & Noble

Robert McKee is a renowned thought leader in the field of screenwriting. Alumni of his workshops include Diane Keaton, David Bowie, Quincy Jones, and other major industry names. This book expands on constructs of story and character, and is a must-read for budding filmmakers.

 

 

 

Untitled14Lowepro Pro Trekker 450 AW Camera and Laptop Backpack

$259.95 at B&H Photo

The Lowepro Pro Trekker 450 AW holds one to two Pro DSLRs with 400mm f/2.8 and can still fit four to six additional lenses and two flash units—not to mention a 15” laptop. It’s interior dividers and tripod attachment make organization easy, while the built-in rain cover keeps gear safe from inclement weather.

 

 

 

400x400ABAudioBlocks

$99/ year for unlimited downloads

Did you hear that? It’s the sound of unlimited royalty-free music, effects, and loops! With an annual subscription to AudioBlocks, your student will have access to the film soundtrack of their dreams—all for only $99.

 

 

 

 

400x400videoblocks-minVideoBlocks

$99/ year for unlimited downloads + access to a members-only Marketplace of discounted clips

It’s impossible to capture every shot needed for a cinema-quality film yourself. With the gift of stock video, young filmmakers save precious time and money on getting the shots they need. An annual subscription to VideoBlocks provides unlimited downloads from a $10 million library of professional footage, backgrounds, and After Effects templates.

 

 

Untitled15Sony Alpha a7S Mirrorless Digital Camera

$2,198 at B&H Photo

Okay, we know we said no new cameras on this list, but if you have a couple grand lying around and you really want to impress, consider the Sony Alpha a7S. Even though it’s on the pricier side, it captures some incredible footage. All the other film school students will be secretly drooling with envy behind the scenes.