For our series What’s in Your Kit, we ask a range of working cinematographers to share the gear they can’t live without.
Edinburgh-born, L.A.-based Nick Higgins shot O.J.: Made in America, a seven-and-a-half-hour documentary directed by Ezra Edelman. The doc is the story of footballer, media personality and convicted felon O.J. Simpson.
Here, Higgins reveals what’s in his kit.
1. (Battle-Hardened) Duvetyne
The 70-odd interviews in O.J.: Made in America had an average length of about five hours and we hardly ever paused for anything. The record breaker was almost nine hours long. Director Ezra Edelman was keen for the light to remain consistent for the entire interview, so instead of employing some ambient light, we went for total black out. We used duvetin for negative fill; the only time I actually used my trusty Flexfill reflector was as a flag to block a window when we ran out of duvetin. A tip: Spread it out over all your gear after you pack the car. That way, when you stop for a pee in a dodgy bit of L.A., no one can see what you’re packing.
Five-hour interviews without breaks are just better with these. I have a pack stuffed in almost every bag. Also known as veggie spliffs.
I’d be lost without this. There’s an empty screw hole on the left side of my Cartoni Gamma tripod head where you can locate the pan arm. Luckily for me, it fits the Noga arm perfectly.
A winner for interviews in rooms that have little to no production value.
This is the little camera that could. O.J.: Made In America is this camera’s third Sundance premiere in four years (I’m assuming a C300 record), after Lucy Walker’s films The Crash Reel in 2013 and “The Lion’s Mouth Opens” in 2014. I just bought the C300 Mark II for another project, but I’m still hanging on to this guy to finish up some ongoing projects. Ninety percent of all the interviews in O.J. were shot on this 50mm at an f/2.
Silent ninja snacks.
A winner in situations when we had a room with something we wanted to showcase, but we couldn’t get far enough away from the subject to do it on 50mm.
8. Cup of Tea
For Scottish folk this is an essential.
This power unit remained firmly in my garage for years until these long interviews were the order of the day. Combined with two 64GB CF cards, we could roll for almost six hours without having to stop or hot swap a card. Bonus: I didn’t have to charge my batteries when I got home.
10. VariZoom VZBelt
The belt is a carry-over from my old DV Media Rig shoulder mount. The built-in cup holder is where the monopod lives when it’s not in use, and it proves that I’m now a true U.S. citizen.
I used this setup for O.J. Simpson handheld stalking POV shots around Brentwood. The bottom of the monopod sits in the holster of the VariZoom belt and the Oben head allows me to level the camera.
Gear I’d Like to Have:
I Can’t Live Without:
Our wi-fi-free desert retreat. Thirteen years ago, we bought five acres near Joshua Tree. Family bliss. MM
This article appears in MovieMaker‘s Winter 2016 issue. For more cinematographers sharing their annotated kits, click here.