To Rent or Buy equipment? This is a question many filmmakers ponder when first starting out on their filmmaking journey – but there is never the right answer when it comes to those specialty pieces of equipment that don’t get used often.
There are strong arguments for both and those who recommend renting over buying have some valid points:
Wear And Tear: You will never have to worry about the costs associated with equipment getting old and playing up. If equipment you hire regularly starts to become a victim to wear and tear, you won’t have to foot the bill for repair, refurbishment or replacement, unlike someone who owns gear.
The Latest/Greatest: It doesn’t matter what brand it is, what model it is or how expensive it is… eventually, it will become old technology. If you rent your equipment, you should expect that the rental company always has the latest cameras available for rental so that you’re never behind your competition in terms of image quality.
Pass On The Costs: It’s industry practice that rental equipment always gets charged to the client in full, and then you add on your day rate on top of that. It’s harder to justify “renting” a camera to a client when you already own it, and you usually have to incorporate the costs into your day rate. The downside to this is you may sound more expensive to someone shopping around than someone who charges a day rate and equipment rental separately.
No Interstate Transporting: Having to fly interstate can be a nightmare for someone who owns 4 or 5 cases worth of equipment. Getting your large batteries on the plane is another hurdle altogether. All of this is eliminated if you rent all of the equipment at your destination – Just organise to rent the equipment bya local hire company and have it delivered and picked up from the shoot’s location.
There are also strong points for owning your own equipment:
No Last Minute Worries: Jobs that come in at the last minute can be a substantial amount of the average filmmaker’s work and if you need to rent gear, you can be left pulling out your hair if the equipment you need is already rented out.
Passion Projects: Let’s be honest, we’re all in this industry for the love of filmmaking, and we’ve all got passion projects we’re working on in our spare time… So imagine how expensive it can be to shoot a passion project when you don’t own your equipment? It means you’re going to have to pay the same prices your clients pay for each day you want to rent – and for a lot of filmmakers, that can be the bill that breaks the budget’s back.
YOU Can Rent: If you’re confident and have the appropriate insurance, you can even consider renting your equipment out on the days your not using it to other filmmakers who choose to rent. You’d be surprised how in demand your gear can get if you undercut local rental companies.
You’ll Learn Faster: There’s no better teacher on the planet than “Trial and Error”. Having the same equipment all the time allows you to master it. Even if you rent the same equipment time after time – there may come a time when someone beats you to the punch and you’re forced to hire something you’re not familiar with. Owning allows you to find all the strengths and weaknesses with your camera, and run as many tests in your spare time as your heart desires.
So what to do? To Rent or to Purchase? There are so many arguments for both sides – but what is most important is what suits your place in the film industry? Are you more of an interstate traveller, or are most of your jobs closer to home? Do you like using just your favourite camera, or do you prefer to choose different cameras depending on the job at hand? All of us are different, we work on different projects and do different roles within the industry – and as mentioned, there never seems to be the right answer. So you need to decide what’s best for YOU and roll with that. There are also lots of opinions all over YouTube that could also help you decide whether to rent or to purchase is the better option for you.
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