For our series What’s in Your Kit, we ask a range of working cinematographers to share the gear they can’t live without.
James Laxton shot Sundance 2014’s Camp X-Ray and returns to Park City this January with Kevin Smith’s Midnight comedy Yoga Hosers, about two teenage girls battling evil forces in Winnipeg. Here, he reveals what’s in his kit.
1. Nespresso Coffee Machine
I couldn’t live without my Nespresso machine. It comes in handy for late-night shoots and crew morale. There’s no better way to solve a problem than asking the director over to the camera tuck to have a coffee and talk. I’ve solved a lot of problems by taking five minutes to have a cup.
2. Minolta Color Meter IIIF
With this, I keep track of how I’m using color in my films, and figure out how to match my lights with existing units. I bought mine for $300 on eBay.
3. Sekonic L-608 Light Meter
With all the monitors and waveforms around the set, I don’t rely only on this to set exposure, but I do use only this to keep track of light ratios on a subject. Depending on the scene, if I wanted to make sure the key-to-fill ratio is the same, I would only know by using my Sekonic.
4. iPhone 6
There is probably no better tool than a smartphone. Weather updates, viewfinder apps, sun path diagrams… and it’s also a great telephone.
5. SmallHD DP6 5.6” Monitor
I use the DP6 on almost every job. I bought it around five years ago and it’s never quit on me. I do a lot of handheld operating and using this monitor allows me to see into my peripheral vision to anticipate my next move. They don’t make these anymore, to my dismay, but it used to go for $1,200.
Gear I’d Love to Have:
I honestly don’t have any interest in buying anything more. I’m realizing that the less I own, the better my options will be as I approach a project. On the other hand, I don’t believe any item is too indulgent for a project. We all use what tools we have afforded to us, so if I get two cranes, five condors, six cameras, and 20 lenses, great! Sounds like fun. MM
For more cinematographers sharing their annotated kits, click here.