For our series What’s in Your Kit, we ask a range of working cinematographers to share the gear they can’t live without.
Steven Holleran shot Steve Caple Jr.’s The Land, starring Erykah Badu and produced by Nas. The drama centers on four skateboard-loving teenagers in Clevehand who get involved in a local drug ring.
Here, Holleran reveals what’s in his kit.
1. Sector 9 Longboard
Shooting all summer on skate-heavy feature The Land, my Sector 9 was a camera platform and a way to get some fresh air after a long day on set. It’s the perfect tool for shooting skating handheld. If I can fit it in my bag, I’ll bring it.
2. Moondog Labs 1.33X Anamorphic Adapter
I shot a number of sequences for The Land with this adapter as a “found-footage camera.”
3. iPhone 6
4. iPad mini
My iPad mini has become a favorite with all the directors I work with as a lightweight viewfinder. With Artemis loaded on it, the director and I can take stills and communicate effortlessly during our scouts and on set. I also load in my overhead camera and lighting diagrams for my gaffer. With some velcro on the back, you can stick it on a camera cart when you don’t need it.
5. LaCie Rugged 500GB External Hard Drive
I carry this around with me as a shuttle drive. I give it to my digital imaging technician on set to load ProRes selects that I can take home with me to look at in DaVinci Resolve. It’s an essential part of refining the way I shoot and light, particularly on long-form narrative projects.
6. SmallHD Sidefinder Electronic Viewfinder with Cover
When I shoot exteriors, I throw the sidefinder on my 502 monitor (see H) and turn it into a viewfinder.
7. Moleskine Notebooks
The standard Moleksine notebook is for notes and diagrams during prepro and tech scouts. The pocket-sized notebook is for taking lighting notes when I’m shooting, for when I need to shoot pickups and want to remember how I lit a scene.
8. SmallHD 502 (5”) and 702 (7”) Monitors with Remote
These monitors have radically changed how I work around the camera. I can load customizable LUTs (lookup tables) and program multiple pages to toggle between modes. I clip the wi-fi remote to my shirt so when I’m operating I can toggle through the menus with my free hand.
9. Leather Light Meter Holster
Stephen TaylorWehr, a 1st AC in Los Angeles, is also a wonderful leather craftsman who hand-makes these custom pouches. It’s a relief knowing that my meter is secure on my belt.
10. Camera Comfort Cushion
Probably the best $40 I’ve ever spent in my life. I wear this thing around on set from call to wrap. It has saved my shoulder and back numerous times from unwieldy camera rigs. I sometimes even strap it to my knee when I shoot handheld on the fly from my lap.
11. XRite ColorChecker Passport
Great for cramped run-and-gun situations like interior car work, because you can fit it in your pocket. I throw these in the shot at the top of every scene to have a color and grayscale reference when I go to the digital intermediate.
12. Rosco and LEE Gel Swatches
These were given to me years ago at Cine Gear Expo. Such a valuable tool during preproduction when I’m selecting gels and diffusions with my gaffer. Having these on hand saves me hours and has added so much dimension and tonality to my lighting.
13. Wasabi Battery Charger and Canon LithiumIon Batteries
This charger and Canon batteries keep my SmallHD monitors going at all times.
14. Kong Frog Carabiner
This clip, which my 1st AC Dennis Scully rigs for me on my Easyrig handheld support system, lets me get the camera on and off my shoulder in an instant. My guys have dubbed it the “skyhook.” I call it the “scorpion tail.”
15. Sekonic L478D LiteMaster Pro Digital Light Meter
It feels great to hold, much like an iPhone.
16. Bluestar Chamois
Never can have enough eye cushions for looking through viewfinders.
17. GF Cube Tap 1482B
I’m a big fan of this adapter on and off set for plugging in laptops, hard drives, phones and chargers. I tend to travel with a cube tap even when I’m not working.
18. RAM Ball Mount
Customizable mounting system for my monitor, Teradek transmitter, and just about anything else.
19. Oakley Sunglasses
It’s tough to find a pair of sunglasses that don’t fall off my face. These shades stick and that’s why I love them. They are also my safety glasses when necessary.
Gear I’d Love to Have
There’s a lot of incredible new gear out there, but I’ve got my eye out for minimalistic and backpack-friendly pieces of equipment like the Leica SL camera which I’d love to replace my iPhone with as my go-to tech scout still camera. A pair of wooden hand grips with ARRI rosettes would also be really, really nice, and maybe a set of the new LED LiteMats which you can hide out of frame just about anywhere. This list could go on for a while!
Gear I can’t live without
My kit wouldn’t be nearly as fine-tuned without my 1st AC Dennis Scully. He is an essential part of my process as a DP. If I’m on my own, then it’s a toss up between my shoulder pad and my light meter. As long as I have these two tools, I know both my shots and my back will come out all right at the end of the day.
My Sector 9 longboard is definitely my indulgence. At the same time, there is something creatively inspiring about the visual perspective and physical release you get while riding. MM
This article appears in MovieMaker‘s Winter 2016 issue. For more cinematographers sharing their annotated kits, click here.