What would a good gift be for a grad going to film school?
May 22, 2005 5:23 PM   Subscribe

Giftfilter: I need to buy a gift for a high school grad going off to Film school. I'm looking for cool gifts that he might enjoy.

I would like to spend around $50. If you can't come up with anything better, he's getting a Netflix gift certificate.
posted by renyoj to Shopping (15 answers total)
How about a Leatherman? I received one as a gift when I was heading off to college and I found it super-useful.
posted by Handcoding at 5:31 PM on May 22, 2005

Would he have fun with a clapboard, a.k.a., film slate, a.k.a., the white and black thing you write the name of your movie on and clap together when you yell "Action!" Seems like even if he doesn't use it for that purpose, it would be fun to have sitting around the dorm. They're $10-$50 on that site I linked to.
posted by GaelFC at 5:37 PM on May 22, 2005

This would be a good idea, except he stopped selling them until this Fall. The Criterion Collection has some great Collector's Sets, but they are a bit pricey. You can get him a collection of DVDs by a great director (i.e. the Stanley Kubrick collection). If he's going to a town that holds an annual film festival, see if passes can be bought in advance. Personally, I think a Netflix gift certificate is a great idea.
posted by ori at 5:52 PM on May 22, 2005

I am a HUGE fan of Criterion's 3-DVD box set of Terry Gilliam's Brazil. Not only is it an amazing movie, but the DVD set itself is practically film school in a box. And it's right in your price range, too.
posted by toddshot at 5:55 PM on May 22, 2005

Give him a few things. Make one of them a Moleskine storyboard notebook.
posted by miniape at 6:05 PM on May 22, 2005

It stretches your budget a bit at $65, but a light meter will come in verry handy.

Also these moleskine blank storyboard books are super cool.

On preview: see above :)
posted by jeremias at 6:09 PM on May 22, 2005

A contrast glass (it's a filter you look through to see what the photographic emulsion will see in terms of contrast),
the most recent American Cinematography Society (ACS) manual,
a film stopwatch (reads feet of film as well as seconds),
and a light meter.

These are the things my father (who was a writer/director) always had with him on the set.

Or browse at the ASC Store

or call Burns and Sawyer (no website, sorry)
posted by warbaby at 6:38 PM on May 22, 2005

I plan on going to film school next year. I would love to get one of those storyboard notebooks. A criterion set would be a great gift too.
posted by Evstar at 6:38 PM on May 22, 2005

It occurs to me that if the guy is going to be lugging around cameras, laptops, DVDs and other media, etc... he could really use some sort of shoulder slung bag/contraption in which to carry this stuff.
posted by Clay201 at 6:57 PM on May 22, 2005

I'd strongly suggest getting him a copy of the russian film The Return ($21 at Deep Discount DVD). It's a strikingly beautiful film that would appeal to a film school kid for several reasons:

1) It was made on a relatively tiny budget. The director will only reveal that he had less than $500,000 to work with.
2) It builds an incredibly intense emotional bond with the viewers while using very little dialog. Silence is very meaningful in the film.
3) It has wonderful imagery that instantly appealed to the photographer in me, and it uses a very controlled color palate.
4) The score is non-traditional, which greatly adds to its atmosphere
5) It's the director's first film, and it pulled some rather significant recognition at film festivals
6) The story consciously breaks several hollywood storytelling conventions, especially in its resolution to great effect. It's a great example of how to break the rules after you learn then.
7) It features an hour long film-about-the-film which has some fascinating insights into the production of the film.

It's a stunning and devastating ride which easily became my favorite film after my first viewing.
posted by SemiSophos at 6:57 PM on May 22, 2005

Want to inspire him?

Get him El Mariachi and the book Rebel without a Crew.

It's how Robert Rodrieguez sold his body for $4k, made a movie in Mexico for $7k - and el mariachi is the film.

Then, next year, pull him aside, and suggest that he make sure that he's learning other skills than directing. Really, 99.9% never see any directing jobs. Less than 10% of my class is working in the field. If he really wants to be in the industry he's not going to get the magic job. Be nice about it of course. Feel free to give him my email if you like.
posted by filmgeek at 7:50 PM on May 22, 2005

It would depend what kind of films he likes. A fan of indie or European films would like different things than a Star Wars geek.

I'm a film grad and would recommend any of the practical gifts above (light meter, in particular (at my film school it was mandatory that everyone have one)--the ACS manual only if he's keenly interested in cinematography, but if he is, it's an excellent suggestion). The Rodriquez stuff is quite excellent also--much better as an educational/inspirational tool than, say, the Brazil set (sorry, Toddshot).

I would strongly encourage the books Screenwriting from the Heart by James Ryan and On Directing Film by David Mamet, but then I'm mostly interested in the storytelling aspects of film and not the technical aspects. The Ryan book is without exception the best screenwriting book I've ever come across but it's not really well known and rarely used in classes. Someone who understands and applies the concepts within it and the Mamet book will be head and shoulders above his classmates.
posted by dobbs at 11:25 PM on May 22, 2005

I'd avoid DVDs - There's a fair chance you'll pick something they're not interested and aren't likely to choose anything relevant to their course. Also, buying a book about their subject will piss them off when they spend the year being taught stuff they already know (knowing more than your classmates sucks).

I'd suggest vouchers for the college bookstore, which he may not thank you for straight away, but will do when it's time to buy them.
posted by cillit bang at 4:02 AM on May 23, 2005

Get him a super 8 camera and some film. Maybe a projector as well, depending on how cheaply you can obtain a good working camera.
posted by tinamonster at 7:19 AM on May 23, 2005

Or even a Hi-8/D-8 camcorder and some tape.

Video cameras reproduce light differently than film, of course, but directors do need to know how to shoot, at least a little, and you learn to shoot, by and large, by shooting.



Tape's cheaper than film.

Did anyone say "director's finder"?
posted by baylink at 8:14 AM on May 23, 2005

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