“One toolbag isn’t cool, you know what’s cool? Two toolbags”
– Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker in The Social Network
OK, so maybe Mr. Timberlake as Mr. Parker never said those words, but I still think they’re true.
Where would I be today without my second toolbag? Disorganized, lost, in a maelstrom of chaos. I’d be in shambles, subject to fitting all my tools into one bag and overloading it to the point where it’s not even practical to carry.
That’s not the kind of world I want to live in — do you?
Maybe I’m being a little dramatic here, but the point is that ever since I’ve started using two toolbags, it’s made me faster, more efficient, better organized and, overall, made life on set easier.
The One Bag Wonder
I remember the day I sat at my computer and brought one finger down onto the mouse, clicking on the “Submit” button over which it hovered. A couple weeks later, close to $250 worth of gear from FilmTools arrived on my doorstep in a cardboard box.
Opening the box and laying out everything I had ordered, I soon realized I needed a toolbag to hold it all, but professional grade film and video bags were way out of my price range — I wasn’t going to buy a bag for the same amount of money I had just spent on the tools themselves.
So, instead, I went to Home Depot, cruised the aisles, and found a modest Doctor-style bag with lots of pockets, pouches, and compartments.
And for awhile, it was good.
It fit all of my tools easily. I could zip it shut, but still access my most important gear on the outside pockets. I even added Velcro on the outside to attach filter tags or other items temporarily throughout the day.
Even though it wasn’t a professional toolbag, it served its purpose extremely well and allowed me to keep my tools organized — the key to accessing them quickly.
Slowly but surely I found my finger gravitating towards the computer mouse again and again, placing orders for new tools and more expendables:
- Five rolls of camera tape turned into ten.
- Four camera wedges turned into eight.
- Two sets of allen wrenches turned into four.
Suddenly, I found myself leaving items at home the night before a shoot. I’d have to prioritize what I really needed and what I could afford to leaving behind.
Even when I did that, I was constantly ransacking through my toolkit during moments of panic on set. The doctor bag design came back to haunt me as I had a tendency to throw everything inside of it at once with little regard for where it went and how it was placed.
The situation was not ideal.
And after awhile, it was not so good.
Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun
As I sat in the bed of my pickup truck, wrestling with the taunting lips of my Home Depot doctor bag refusing to be zipped together, I realized it may be time to move on.
“Dude,” said the director of photography as he walked by, “You gotta get a new bag.”
I slumped down, defeated, unable to fit the plethora of tools I had acquired over the years into the tiny bag I paid less than $20 for.
He was right. It was time to upgrade.
Not long afterwards, my finger drifted over the computer mouse again, hitting “Submit” as I forked over the cash to buy a brand new Cinebag CB-01 Production Bag. Even though I had the money and wanted the bag, paying triple digits for a bag is hard to mentally justify.
But after you swallow that pill, you get the high of consumerism: When it arrived, I excitedly cleared everything from one into the other and tossed the Doctor Bag aside.
Yet I still kept it around — I had plans for it.
Most camera assistants like to keep a toolbag and then what they call a “ditty bag.” With a ditty bag you throw your most essential gear into it and carry that around set instead of your entire toolbag.
That’s exactly what I started doing.
And now I no longer have to compromise on what I bring to set.
I bring everything in my Cinebag, then whenever I know where equipment is being staged, I leave it with the camera cart and fill my old toolbag with the things I need the most — marks, pens, pencils, allen wrenches, matte box and follow focus accessories.
The Cinebag is like Noah’s Ark for tools and the old doctor bag a launch-able row boat.
Why Two Toolbags is Better than One
My big Cinebag toolbag easily weighs more than 30 pounds and, after 12 hours of lugging that, takes quite a toll on your shoulder.
With a ditty bag, I carry only a fraction of that weight.
And that’s why my two toolbags are better than your one. Because while you have to pack everything into one bag, making it super heavy and awkward to lug around set, I am able to split my gear into two groups — what I absolutely need and what I might need.
Using two toolbags also makes things a lot easier when you’re the only camera assistant on the job.
So, no, your life probably won’t descend into pure chaos without a 2nd toolbag, but it will help you stay organized and be faster on set.