No Film School’s 2023 Holiday Gift Guide for Filmmakers

This post is by Nicco Valenzuela from No Film School

Can’t find the perfect gift for the filmmaker in your life? We’ve got you covered, even if you just want to treat yourself.

We love a good gift guide that not only gives us inspiration for what we want to put on our wish list this year but might be the exact item that can spark the creative flame in us and get us out of the house after a long hibernation. On the other hand, we could find the perfect movie box set to watch through the long nights or a collectible item that will impress any movie lover who comes over.

Whether you have a cinematographer, screenwriter, or a casual cinephile in your life, these gift ideas will make sure your present will be remembered forever.

To kick off this list, we recommend that you check out B&H’s Cyber Monday deals and use their wish list to share any of those items on sale with your friends and family.

If nothing sparks your interest there, then keep reading (or send this list to your mom, dad, or anybody who you know will ask you, “What do you want this year?”).

For the Cinematographers, Gear Heads, and Creatives

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro on a yellow background

From cameras to lenses to accessories and drones, all creatives need good tools to get their artistic vision onto metaphorical paper. Here are some holiday gift ideas for the cinematographer, screenwriters, and one-man-productions reading this.

Don’t worry, we like to keep on a budget, too. (Almost) nothing on this list is outrageously priced. We like to shop smart, find great deals, and, most importantly, find great gear that helps you bring your project to life.

Cameras (Cinema, Mirrorless, Hybrid)

RED Komodo-X  on a blue background

This past year of camera releases has been incredible. From Fujifilm to Blackmagic Design, creatives are spoiled for choice. Some of these options have just been released, and a few are a year or two old. Even so, they are incredible options to get you shooting your next project

  • Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro ($2,535): The Blackmagic Pocket cameras are some of the best budget Super 35 cinema cameras on the market, and the BMPCC 6K Pro is the flagship leading the charge. With internal NDs and a slew of unique accessories, it’s a powerful tool for any filmmaker who wants great imagery without breaking the bank.
  • Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K ($2,595): The BMCC 6K is the first update of the camera that brought BMD into the camera market. Using the same body as the Pocket 6K, the full-frame BMCC has a 6K full-frame sensor with a mirrorless L-Mount, making it one of our top choices for both entry-level filmmakers and veterans on a budget. It’s also compatible with all the BMPCC 6K Pro accessories, so if you have both, you’ll end up saving money.
  • Fujifilm GFX 100 II ($7,499): One of our favorite cameras on this list. The GFX 100 II is a medium-format photography camera that wants nothing more than to shoot movies. With internal ProRes, native support, and RAW over HDMI, the GFX 100 II is made for video or cinema productions. It’s also the most affordable medium-format camera on the market.
  • Fujifilm X-H2s ($2,299): The smaller sibling of the GFX line, the X-H2s is a Super 35 hybrid camera with more power than it knows what to do with. This is the camera that began Fujifilm’s integration. It also has great IBIS, 14+ stops of dynamic range, and Fuji’s unique film emulations based on its storied history of making film stock.
  • Sony FX3 ($3,898): This is the camera everyone is talking about right now. The Sony FX3 isn’t the newest camera on this list, but it’s definitely the one to beat. This was the camera that director Gareth Edwards and his creative team used to shoot The Creator. It’s a powerful full-frame sensor that’s tucked into a compact cage-free body with industry-leading autofocus and solid IBIS. It can also output RAW over HDMI.
  • Sony FX30 ($1,598): Overshadowed by its full-frame sibling, the FX30 is the same camera as the FX3 but with a Super 35 sensor and at half the cost. This is the camera Sony built to compete with Blackmagic Design, and it’s also the most affordable camera on this list (even when it’s not on sale).
  • Canon R5 C ($3,799): The Canon R5 C is the camera that made hybrid a thing. It was purpose-built for photography and cinema, making it basically the Canon C 70 and Canon R5 squashed together. It has a dedicated mode for each format, which includes new menu layouts and settings, making it the perfect camera if you live in both worlds but like to keep them separate.
  • RED Komodo-X ($9,995): While it’s the most expensive camera on our list, the RED Komodo-X deserves a mention. The original Komodo was built as a crash cam, but its affordability made it a popular choice for budget filmmakers and those who need a small form factor tool from RED. If you love RED color science and workflow, this is a camera you need to have on your shortlist (if you don’t have it already).

Cinema Lenses

Sigma 50-100mm T2 High-Speed Zoom Lens Super 69M on a red background

These tools are the go-to choice for filmmakers. They’re built like tanks, have precise control over focus and aperture, and usually impart character that other lenses fail to deliver. Here are some of our favorite picks for creatives looking to get a cinematic edge.

  • Venus Optics LAOWA Pro2be ($8,499): One of the most unique lenses in the world, much less this list, the LAOWA Pro2be is a tool that every filmmaker should at least have access to. This set contains the Direct, 90° Periscope, and 35° versions of the lens. If you make your bones doing product videography of any kind, this kit will be your go-to.
  • DZOFilm Pictor Zooms ($4,411): DZOFilm made its mark on the lens industry with these zooms. They’re not only well-built and reliable, they won’t break the bank. These Pictor zoom set comes with a 20-55mm and 50-125mm T2.8 and will cover cover Super 35 sensors.
  • DZOFilm VESPID Primes ($6,375): After the success of its zooms, DZOFilm moved into primes, making equally affordable lenses that are just as well-built. This 6-lens kit comes with a 25, 35, 50, 75, 100, and 125mm and has interchangeable lens mounts for Canon EF and PL. If you need an affordable set of primes, this is one to keep an eye on.
  • Sirui Night Walker Primes ($999): But if you want super fast primes, the Sirui Night Walkers are sure to impress with their ultrafast T1.2. This set includes 24, 35, and 55mm and will cover Super 35 sensors. If you shoot in low light and want to save money, you should already own this set.
  • NiSi ATHENA Primes ($5,798): While the company is fairly new to the market, the YouTube creator-sphere has been raving about these lenses. At either a T2.4 or T1.9, this full-frame 5-lens set is not only affordable but has the speed to deal with low light conditions.
  • Venus Optics Laowa Nanomorph Anamorphics ($2,429): If you want true anamorphic lenses, the x1.33 Laowa Nanomorphs have to be your first stop. Not only are they extremely affordable, but they give you that subtle anamorphic image we all crave these days. But, having such a product at such a cost comes with its share of sacrifices, so make sure you test this set of three (27, 35 & 50mm) before you decide to make them a part of your kit full-time.
  • Sigma High-Speed Zooms ($8,499): Sigma has been a leading lens designer for affordable E-mount glass for ages. Its cinema lenses are also nothing to scoff at. This set of two zooms, the Sigma 18-35mm and 50-100mm are built around their photography counterparts and offer a lot of reach for the price.

Accessories​, Gimbals, Drones, and More

DJI Inspire 3 on a green background

Here are a few things to get your camera kitted out for any production you may have.

  • DJI Inspire 3 ($16,499): This drone is going to be the most expensive piece of kit in the guide, but it’s a tool that will expand your abilities as a videographer or cinematographer. With the ability to record 8K25 CDNG or 8K75 Apple ProRes files, the Inspire 3 can carry your footage to new heights. But that comes at a hefty cost.
  • DJI Mini 4 Pro ($1,159): If you don’t want to pay out the nose, the Mini 4 Pro will get you great footage at a fraction of the cost. Sure, it won’t be the production-grade codec you’ll get with the Inspire 3, but your footage will still be an asset for budget narrative productions. For everything else, like social content, corporate, or weddings, it’s the perfect fit. And you won’t need a drone license.
  • Tilta Nucleus-M Wireless Follow Focus ($1,399): There are many wireless follow focus units on the market—everything from budget options under $1k to the industry standard from ARRI. Tilta’s Nucleus-M fits right in the middle, offering powerful motors for an affordable cost.
  • DJI RS 3 Pro Gimbal ($869): With IBIS now becoming standard in almost every camera (barring expensive production cinema cameras), gimbals seem to have fallen off a bit. But having a dedicated stabilizer can really change the way you compose your shots. The RS 3 Pro is a perfect balance of affordability and usability, giving creatives just enough payload (up to 10 lbs) to get the job done.
  • Tilta Mirage Matte Box Kit ($314): While screw-on lens filters have become more popular with budget shooters, having a dedicated matte box can be a real asset on set. The Tilta Mirage is not only affordable but also lightweight. It comes with its own variable ND filter and top flag to shield your lens from light. For more filter options, an optional 4 x 5.65″ stackable filter tray can be added between the filter clamp.
  • IndiPRO Tools Micro-Series Battery Kit ($499): Finally, no camera kit can go without a solid battery solution. While creatives can choose between V-Mount, Gold Mount, or the new B-Mount, the Micro-Series 98Wh kit from IndiPRO offers both output and affordability. With two V-mount batteries and a charger, you’ll always be able to power your gear throughout the day.

For the Screenwriters, Novelists, and Playwrights

So you’re not a tech head, but you make movies just like the rest of us. Well, this section is for you or for those you know that fit that description. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing for film, the stage, or for the nightstand, here are some gift ideas to write away the holidays.


Highland Pro 2 screenshots on a yellowbackground

  • Final Draft ($250): Many pros use this software. Final Draft calls itself the industry standard, but you can get by just fine with other choices—still, many writers like the feel of using the program that drives the film industry.
  • Highland Pro 2 (free or $50 for the Pro Version): There’s a free version but upgrading to the Pro for $50 gives you some awesome additions that can make your writing job easier, which makes it worth every penny. It’s also free for students and can convert PDFs, export into other formats, and is very easy to use. Get it for your writing friends. You can use it as a word processor or for novels and treatments as well.
  • Fade In ($79): Another option popular with pro writers, this one looks clean on the page and is fun to use as well.
  • Save the Cat ($189/yr): The most popular book and software that you don’t actually use to write screenplays. This can help you structure your story or just drive you crazy when you realize you’re missing specific beats.

More Gifts for Writers

The screenplay book of Midsommar from A24

  • Midsommar screenplay book ($60): Midsommar felt like a horror movie that took the world by storm. Whether it was the timing or something in the mushroom-spiked tea, the story is tight and has us returning to the PDF to read and study Ari Aster’s masterful writing. Why not have the screenplay on your shelf whenever you are in need of some inspiration?
  • More A24 screenplay books ($60): Midsommar is not the only screenplay book available. Check out all of A24’s available screenplays they have for you to collect and read whenever you want to return to your favorite story.
  • Sony WH-CH520 Wireless Headphones with Microphone ($59.99): Not many of us write in silence. Upgrade your headphones to these stylish Sony wireless headphones that don’t squeeze a headache into your head after a few hours.

Audio Tools for Production

Sennheiser MKE 600 Shotgun Microphone on a green background

Audio tools are essential for music production, podcasts, or recording dialogue on set. They provide the means to capture, edit, and manipulate sound, and without these tools, the sound of your project would be rough. Here are some audio gift ideas for this holiday season:

VFX Software

VFX is almost essential in the filmmaking process. From low-budget indies to big-budget blockbusters, it is essential that filmmakers know how to work with VFX. What better way to sharpen your skill than with these VFX software suites:

  • Video Copilot Element 3D V2 Plugin ($167.95): Video Copilot’s Element 3D V2 Plugin features a redesigned interface, and an updated GPU accelerated processing back end to improve render times and allows many operations to be viewed in near real-time.
  • Imagineer Systems Mocha Pro 5 Standalone ($595.00): Mocha Pro 5 Standalone (Legacy Renewal V.3 or Below, Download) is an upgraded version of Imagineer Systems’ flagship planar-tracking and roto application.
  • Red Giant VFX Suite 1.5 ($999.00): Create advanced composites, manipulate lighting, and track your visual effects to keep them exactly where you need them in your frame with Red Giant VFX Suite 1.5.
  • Blender Plugins (Free to $$$): Since it’s free, we couldn’t really put Blender on this list even though its something every creator should at least try to use. Having said that, plugins can evolve the VFX/modeling suite into a powerhouse that can rival paid options.

Music, SFX, and VFX Assets and Libraries

Have you ever wanted to create the best-looking pitch to show off your next big idea? Upgrade your pitch deck with a few assets and libraries that will knock the socks off any investors.

  • Soundstripe ($19.99 a month Pro plan): While there are many great royalty-free music and SFX libraries out there, Soundstripe is one of the best. With the Pro plan, you get unlimited music and sound effects, plus unlimited video clearances as well as integrations for Premiere Pro and
  • ($29.99 a month Footage and Templates): If you want amazing music, SFX, and stock footage up to 8K and tons of video templates that you can use across all social platforms and other projects, is one of the best places to go.
  • Motion Array ($19.99 a month annual plan): Another one of the greatest and most trusted VFX libraries, Motion Array has proven to be one of the best of the best with new assets added daily.

For Movie Nerds, Cinephiles, and Armchair Critics

Not everyone in our lives is a filmmaker (shocking, I know), but that doesn’t mean we can’t get them film-related gifts.

Check out our picks for movie nerds, cinephiles, and armchair critics who need a little more cinema-related joy in their day-to-day lives.

Magazines, Publications, and More

Letterboxd Pro Subscription on iPhone and iPad

  • Letterboxd Pro Subscription ($19 per year): Let’s face it, you’re probably one of those moviegoers who whips out their phone the minute a film ends to log and rate it on Letterboxd. The platform is the go-to place for film fans to track their views, see what friends are watching, build lists, and share reviews. A pro subscription allows more customization of lists and watch options. If you want to go even further, you can become a Patron ($49 per year) to customize the posters for films and access beta features.​
  • American Cinematography ($36/yr. or $69 for two years): American Cinematographer does for cinematographers what Variety does for agents. DoPs get up-to-date info on the latest films, trends, and gear necessary for the job. ​
  • Total Film ($21.63/quarter): As filmmakers, it is essential to stay up-to-date with the latest studio films. Total Film has some of the best reviews and interviews to learn from.
  • The New Yorker ($49.99​/per year for digital access): While this is primarily a literary magazine, there are some great editorials about film and the state of Hollywood that come out weekly and can be an excellent tool for movie lovers everywhere.

Merch and Memorabilia

Horror Caviar: A Cookbook  on a green background

  • Horror Caviar: A Cookbook ($65): This is not your mom’s cookbook. It’s the size of a coffee table book, with pages as fine as the Bible and some gorgeous photography of movie-inspired dishes, as well as frames from some of our favorite horror films. There are recipes and essays by Sohla El-Waylly, chef, and A.S. Hamrah, critic, and more—not to mention a foreword by one of our favs, director Ti West. A24 hits it out of the park again with some of the best gift options for film fans.
  • Rope Poster by Greg Ruth ($80): Who doesn’t love to put original film art on their walls? You get the credit as both a film aficionado and a decor expert. This poster for Alfred Hitchcock’s masterful thriller Rope features a beautiful (Read more…)