Chinese-American director and photographer Kristine Tsui's colourful palette when it comes to filmmaking is exemplified in her selection of essential items.

From thoughtful handheld necessities to more therapeutic flights of fancy, the Bindery director presents a strong argument for a strong iPad case and the absolute need to have a few action figures lying around.

The Color Tools

As someone who takes a heavy hand in the art direction, I always have my color tools within reach. 

I collect physical swatches from different vendors so that I can hold colors next to products and watch how they behave together under light. 

Ultimately, it gives me the confidence to make choices without guessing the accuracy of digital swatches (which by the way, are never, ever accurate). 

I also love sending these to creative directors and cinematographers to make sure we’re looking at the same, real thing. 

The Figurines

As juvenile as it may seem, these model-train figures and sketch models are some of my favorite tools in pre-production. 

I lay them out to solve blocking for talent and sometimes, I shoot out rough boards for storyboard artists with my phone to quickly communicate the vision.

I’ll also take these figures to meet with my cinematographer and use them to stage the set as we think through camera setups. 

I’m sure it’s an odd sight to see two people arranging tiny toys over coffee…

The On-Set Essentials

My iPad Pro is my most important tool on set. I constantly use it to take notes and view my production plan and schedule. Sometimes, it also becomes a wireless personal monitor. It’s a game changer to see my boards and the feed on the same screen.

This clunky iPad case with a built-in hand-strap is essential to keeping it by my side (a tip I stole from watching Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian). And the name tag is essential when I inevitably misplace it four to five times a day while running around set.

A couple other things I keep on hand: a mini Hydro Flask with matcha, pocket viewfinder, Apple accessories, and a claw clip. 

I adore these clips by Fenna and Fei, a small business based in Idaho where my fiancé was raised. 

The Travel Essentials

Traveling between NYC and LA with 25lbs+ of photo equipment on my back can be quite taxing. 

Last year, I upgraded to the 31-liter Wandrd PRVKE camera bag and I’m absolutely amazed at what a difference a great backpack can make. And, it holds so much while still fitting under the airplane seat. 

The thoughtfulness behind the design truly makes shooting and traveling a delight. 

Paired with my Theragun mini, a pair of well-loved Nike Space Hippies and TSA Precheck, cross-country travel has become so much kinder to my body. 

The Golden Hour Walks

I try to walk at least 10,000 steps a day, which is a breeze in NYC, especially right after wrapping up work during golden hour. 

Sometimes I take my trusty Ricoh GRIII for the ride, but most of the time, I make do with just my iPhone camera. 

My favorite destinations to motivate those walks are some local Brooklyn thrift shops which I try to frequent about two-to-three times a week.