I shot Wild Nights with Emily (writer-director Madeleine Olnek’s comedic biopic about the writings and romantic life of Emily Dickinson, played by Molly Shannon) back in 2016 on a Canon EOS C300 Mark I.
That was the camera available to us at that time, and I thought it was a great choice for this small-scale production. It has a lot of the same features I like about the C200, which is in my kit now.
Fun fact: We originally planned for the movie to be black-and-white, so even though the footage was shot
in color, I had the monitor set to monotone throughout the shoot. Ultimately, Madeleine decided the movie would play better in color, so I can’t give enough praise to the post team that helped make it look as good as it does. As far as my kit goes, I used it all on this set, from lenses to sunscreen, and it was a huge help to me.
1. CANON EOS C200 / $7,499 / SHOP.USA.CANON.COM
I love the Canon EOS C200 because it’s great for run and gun shooting. Canon has the most intuitive menu settings that allow you to toggle through quickly to whatever you need. The built-in ND filters give you options for shallow depth of field when shooting outdoors in sunlight. It’s a great camera for shooting documentary—it’s light, you can pop off the top handle to make it even lighter, and the LCD is modular, so you can position any way you like. It has 13 stops of dynamic range and 15 if you want to shoot raw, and the image is beautiful.
2. CANON BP-A60 BATTERIES / $429 / SHOP.USA.CANON.COM These last forever and it’s so
nice not to have to worry about switching and charging batteries, especially with a small crew or if you’re shooting on your own.
3. CANON EF 70-200MM F/2.8L TELEPHOTO ZOOM LENS / $1,349 / SHOP.USA. CANON.COM
This lens is so flexible, I find I use it on almost every shoot.
4. 2X EXTENDER / $429 / SHOP.USA.CANON.COM
This is such a great device. Especially if you only have one nice lens, this allows you to get even more mileage out of it. I use it a lot with the 70-200mm and even though it cuts down a couple of stops, it’s worth it.
5. ARRI CAP / $22.59 / ARRI-WEBSHOP.COM
I stole this from my brother and now I use it all the time. I don’t think he will ever get it back.
6. MOLESKINE NOTEBOOK / $14.95-$24.95 / US.MOLESKINE.COM
It’s always great to write out an overhead diagram or sketch out the scene with the director before you shoot, especially if something changes last minute and you have to think on your feet.
7. BONGO TIES / $6.99 / AMAZON.COM
I always carry two or three with me because inevitably I need them for something.
8. CUBE TAP / $4.50 / FILMTOOLS.COM/3TO1CUBTAPEA.HTML
It’s small, but always comes in handy when there’s limited outlet contacts. There are always phones and batteries to be charged and you can be a real hero if you have one these.
9. NIKON F3 / $208-$350 / KEH.COM
I bought this camera at a flea market years ago. Although I prefer Canon when shooting digital, I really like this Nikon film camera. It has a nice weight to it and is more functional than digital Nikon cameras. I love to shoot on film when I can. It keeps me alert to scenes around me in a way that iPhones and digital cameras don’t.
10. VINTAGE NIKON 105MM LENS / $2,196 / BHPHOTOVIDEO.COM
I got this at B&H Photo Video on sale. It’s just a beautiful prime portrait lens. I like that it’s heavy and has a metal hood.
11. SUNBLOCK / $8.96-33 / AMAZON.COM
I use sunscreen with zinc and reapply a lot.
12. ZICAM / $9.99 / TARGET.COM When I start to feel a cold coming on I pound this stuff, and I usually feel much better in the morning.
13. WATERCOLOR SET / $5-$50 / MICHAELS.COM
I started out as a painter and I still like to watercolor a lot. Although I don’t always paint from life, painting in general helps me break down how I see light and form. It’s also meditative and calming after a stressful day. I mostly paint little portraits and cartoons of people and scenes, which also make great gifts!
14. WINTERGREEN OIL / $8.95 / AMAZON.COM
When I have neck or lower back pain this really helps, and it’s also great for bug bites.
GEAR I’D LOVE TO HAVE:
I’d love to have a Leica MP 0.72 Rangefinder Camera and a Leica M 35mm lens, or a set of ZEISS Compact Prime CP.2 super speed lenses.
WHAT ITEMS CAN’T I LIVE WITHOUT?
My paper and pad, phone, laptop, and the internet in general.
WHAT DO I CONSIDER AN INDULGENCE?
A massage after a shoot is always nice. MM
Wild Nights with Emily opened in theaters April 12, 2019, courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment. Featured image photograph by Alon Borten. This article appears in MovieMaker’s Spring 2019 issue, on stands in May.