Blackwrap is invaluable when you’re lighting a scene—and the cheaper your lighting gear, the more you probably need it. It’s sort of a Swiss Army knife of lighting—filling a lot of jobs. Just about any time that you’re working with a hot light, and you don’t have the right tool in your kit, blackwrap is what’s gonna save your butt.
For something so useful, it’s surprising that it’s often missing from very low-budget shoots. (But never missing from a pro shoot.) Blackwrap is basically aluminum foil that’s been sprayed with a matte black paint to keep it from bouncing weird reflections all over the set. You can bend it to any shape and put it right on a light without worrying about it catching fire. It’s a great way to block off any stray light that slips through. But it’s crazy expensive for tin foil—it costs 30 bucks a roll So, a lot of people skimp. But you should bite the bullet, buy a roll, and use it—and re-use it—judiciously. Because it’s awesome.
Here’s a piece of equipment that I bring to every film shoot and yet hope I’ll never need to use: the fire extinguisher. This is usually one of the first things I pull off the truck when I’m unloading my gear (and conversely, the last thing I put away at the end of the day). If you’re going to plug in lights—or plug in anything for that matter—you really must have a fire extinguisher. With you. On the set. Film lights get hot enough to set curtains or other things on fire very quickly. And you really don’t want to burn someone’s house down to make your film or series.
I’m launching a new series of blog posts on DouglasHorn.com to talk about film gear. There are tons of great sites on the Internet dedicated to the latest new camera or other filmmaking gizmos, but I haven’t found any that talk about the real gear that filmmakers work with every day. Cameras are advancing in technology every moment, it seems. C-stands and gel frames, not so much. But these more common, less flashy tools of the filmmaking trade are often crucial to allowing a film crew achieve the look a director or cinematographer is after in a way that is efficient, reproducible, and safe. In this new film gear series I’ll talk about a lot of the basic tools of the trade—things that I use regularly to make my shoots go better.
Clamps are often the silent heroes of the grip department. Sure, a C-stand can hold up anything, as long as you have enough of them, and room to set one up on the floor. But what about when you can’t put anything on the floor because you want to do a 360 pan around. Or maybe you need to hang a light from a rail. Who ya gonna call?
Clamps are champs
I generally don’t like buying a lot of gear. It’s expensive and heavy to haul around, and small stuff can sometimes walk away on a big set. So when I add something to my kit, it’s almost always because I was on a shoot where that item was either missing—and sorely missed at that, or the item was there and saved the day. The fact that I have several types of clamps should indicate just how often the right one can save your keister.