A lot of people, both newbies and seasoned professionals, talk about kit bags a lot. What kit do you have? What should I buy? Where did you get this thing? So I thought I would lay out everything in my On Set Bum Bag and show you exactly what is in there. This is by no means a definitive list, I am constantly adding to and removing from it… but this is where I am currently at, I’ve been working backstage in theatres and on set for six years now and for the most part this kit has never let me down (I do advise that if anyone ever suggests something for your kit you get it though, a kit bag is never complete.... Also any brand choices are my personal ones!
1. WET WIPES
On one memorable occasion an actor kicked a giant mushroom full of bright yellow powder whilst wearing their costume. These were invaluable.
2. MEASURING TAPE
Useful for measuring people, collar sizes and for the inevitable moment when the designer asks you to add ‘this much’ onto something and their hand gesture will indicate 2 cm when they somehow mean 3 inches.
Useful for sorting out paperwork if you do physical continuity bibles and sometimes they’ll do for a quick shoe fix
4. MICRO TAG/KIMBLE GUN
WARNING. CONTROVERSIAL CONTENT AHEAD. This one divides the industry, I love micro tags and use them for a quick fix on a lot of things, some designers hate them and wont let them on set because they can leave small holes in costumes. So have this on you but use your judgement about when to use it. [Pro tip, if you lose the rubber end off the needle you can replace it with the rubber from a mechanical pencil so you don’t stab yourself every time you reach into your bag]
Obvs. [These ones are CK electricians scissors and come with a handy pouch to attach to your belt (on Amazon)
7. ANTI BACTERIAL GEL
From someone who has had to turn a lot of worn socks the right way out this is a life saver
I most recently used mine to fix a watch that fell apart on set
9. SUEDE BRUSH
You never know what shoes your actor will wear!
10. CLOTHES BRUSH
Invaluable if an actor is covered in dust or food crumbs but also if you are working with SFX explosions and you need to keep continuity between scenes.
11. BONGO TIES
This one I picked up from the camera department, they are a strange bit of kit that always seem to come in handy for something, my favourite use is tying up costume rails with them
12. GLASSES CLEANING KIT
Cleaning glasses is something that happens a lot for reflections on camera. Here I have cleaning spray, a glasses cloth (the unmarked orange one) and the strange tweezers that clean the front and backs of the glass at the same time.
13. CROCODILE CLIPS
Another thing which comes in handy more than you would think, even if its just for attaching a call sheet to your belt.
One day these will be supplied in the toilets by companies but until then have some spare. It's much easier to look after a costume if someone isn't bleeding on it. I keep the tampons in a case so that I can be discreet.
Don't use these often - last time I used mine was to fix a prop hearing aid.
16. LOLLIPOP STICK
Useful for sticking things together in hard to reach places and poking into shoes.
Useful for fixing glasses, watches and occasionally space suits.
19 - 21. PENCIL/ PEN/ SHARPIE
Pro tip: if someone asks to borrow your marker only give them the pen and keep the lid, that way they will definitely bring it back to you rather than pocketing it.
22. NIPPLE COVERS
They come in packs of 2 but it looked nicer in the picture just to use one. Costume trucks normally have these onboard but its always good to have a back up in your kit in case they are called for on set
23. VARIETY OF THREADS
Some people have the thread plaits in their kit for more colours but I tend to get away with white, black and beige for most quick repairs on set.
24. SMALL MICROFIBRE TOWEL
This is one I only learned about recently, they are great for drying rain off actors and recently I had to get an actor to lie on a wet bench, I was the only one with a towel on me and wiping down the bench saved his coat from getting drenched and dirty
25. GEL FOOTPADS
I only give these out to actors that I really like 😉
26. BLISTER PLASTERS
Always useful if you are getting actors to wear uncomfortable shoes, but you can also go to the medic and ask for plasters
27. FISHING TACKLE BOX
These are excellent and very cheap online. I keep micro tags (black and white) and earring backs in mine as standard but they are also great for holding small pieces of jewellery or broken buttons without them just getting lost into the bottom of a bag.
28. PHONE CHARGER
I normally keep a battery block or plug and lead depending on whether we are working inside or outside. I use my phone for continuity pictures so keeping it charged is very important
29. PETTY CASH
Just in case. [Last time I needed cash was when I had to fill hot water bottles for actors and the only way I could was to go to a café and ask them for hot water]
30. NEEDLE CASE
Some people prefer a needle flower so they can keep the needles threaded but I prefer a curved needle so I just keep them in a case and thread them as I need
31. SPARE BUTTONS
I will admit these haven’t actually come in handy yet but I don’t think it can hurt to keep a few in my kit just in case
32. LIP BALM
This is just for me and I’ve put it in here to remind you that you can carry personal things in your kit to keep yourself comfortable, I often have hand cream and a chocolate bar(s) in here as well!
33. LINT ROLLER
Sometimes it works better than a clothes brush.. Pro Tip! I keep mine attached to my belt on a crocodile clip and keyring so it doesn’t stick to the rest of my kit in my bag
34. TOPSTICK / SUPERTAPE
Two excellent brands of double sided tape that can go onto skin, they are both used by the sound department but they are some of the best tapes I have found for sticking down collars and holding hats in place
35. URSA TAPE/ MOLESKIN
This is a sticky back fabric that is really useful for stopping shoes creaking and softening parts of costume that irritate the actors skin. It comes in black, beige and white and is surprisingly durable. You can buy it in strips like this or in bigger pieces by the meter
If you add some dirty down powder into this it becomes a great ‘go to’ for oily hands or dirt on knees if you need a quick fix
37. MIC TAPE
This gets more use out of me in theatre but it’s been handy to have it on me as its skin safe. You can also wrap it around the inside of ring if its too big for the actors hand
38. TOUPEE TAPE
Another double sided option, this is also safe to put on skin and the best one I’ve found is from Sally's Hair Supplies
39. SAFETY PINS [Picture Below]
On the outside of my kit bag I also have more safety pins than I can count
40. WATER BOTTLE HOLDER
Fixed to the outside of my kit!
On top of this I have a warm/ dry bag in my car, a larger kit bag I bring to set on certain jobs, tool boxes, breakdown kit and a full arsenal of costume and prop making gear. If you ask me really nicely I might even write separate articles on all my different kits.