Hi Film Folk,
The Film Doctor Team hope you’ve had a very relaxing (or productive!) weekend and are ready to jump up and throw yourself into another week of work.
This week our Monday Prescription focuses on all the factors you filmmakers will want to consider when renting kit from a company for the first time. So if you’re a seasoned rental guy/gal then read no further. But if you want to know the ins and outs and the good, the bad and the ugly before taking the plunge, then read on!
NB/ This list will vary somewhat from country to country (as well as company to company) so if in doubt, always read everything three times and make sure you understand what’s required. Hunt down that fine print!
Unfortunately, hungry filmmakers often overlook what’s needed because their beady eyes are so keenly focused on ‘the best price’. Let’s take a look at some of the key considerations required before setting your shooting day.
Here we go:
1. Documents – Rental companies want documents, documents, documents (as well as money). Why?! Well, otherwise what stops you paying the £100 ($150) rental cost and running off with the gear? Or breaking it and not having the money to repair it? So you’ll need proof of ID, proof of address, Bank details (not all); student ID (if student and want discount) kit list. Call/email your selected companies to find out their exact documentation requirements.
2. Damage Waiver/Deposit – The deposit is one of the most under-looked aspects of film rentals. Many filmmakers budget for the rental fee as highlighted on the site only to later discover they will need £2000 ($3000) credit card space to lay down a deposit for the item. Make sure you call to enquire what’s needed before making lofty plans and booking your crew and cast!
Another thing – ALL damage is the responsibility of the producer, so make sure (whether you’re a Producer-Producer or just a Director acting as your own Producer) that you’re mindful of crew experience when hiring/collaborating – the onus is on you!
3. Logistics – Where? When? What? How? These questions should be ready to roll off your tongue to your team when preparing to book your kit. When can the kit be collected? When MUST it be back by? Who is going to take it? How are they going to take it? Make sure you have transportation large enough to fit your kit in. Don’t waste precious prep time scrambling to rent a van because you miscalculated something. Your film will suffer! Preparation, preparation, preparation – in advance!!
4. Company vs. Individual – Note the differences in dealing with an individual and a company. Regardless of how an individual’s website or established process works, you must make sure certain documentation is in place. Don’t just go the easy route. If the kit damages in your care and you don’t have the money/insurance to repair/replace it then you will be in serious trouble. If you both can’t commit in writing (with signatures and everything!) then it’s better to go with an established company who do.
Individuals may also want to rent you kit at a discount in exchange for them being a part of a project (double pay day). Do not hire a DP (or other department) simply because they own kit you can get cheaper than anywhere else. Ownership does not equal skill. The kit should be a nice bonus, not the reason you hire someone. Some of the best DPs don’t own a camera at all. Look at both aspects (price and showreel/CV) before making any rash decisions.
5. Do your homework – Homework is the essence of this article. Make sure you have everything you need for the shoot – don’t over or under hire. Make sure you have the correct supporting stands/rigs. It’s no good having a state-of-the-art digital camera without the grip equipment to get the shots you desire, or a beautiful HMI lamp without a stand to put it on. Equally, don’t hire kit that you won’t actually use.
If operating yourself – get to know the gear in advance. ‘Victory favours preparation’.