Pre-Production: How To Rent Film Equipment

Renting film equipment can be a daunting experience. It will prove to be expensive, but necessary. Here is the way to go about renting equipment for your next production:

Step 1: Insurance

Every rental house requires that you have insurance in order to take their equipment. If you were to lose an entire truck full of equipment, there would be absolutely no way that you could pay for it. Therefore, the rental house wants proof that an insurance company will cover the loss. Insurance is expensive, so be sure to plan for it in your budget. Different companies have different plans. Be aware of what your deductible ends up being. The rental house will probably ask for a check in the amount of the deductible until you return their gear.

Step 2: Rental Pricing

Different rental houses have different policies. Generally, they price out each piece of equipment then rent it by the day. Note that this is from the time that you pick it up, not when you start shooting. At a certain point, they start to charge by the week. This is usually measured by 3 days. So, after you take the equipment for 3 days, you can keep it for up to 7 days for the same price. You should also know that most rental houses are not open on the weekend. This forces them to count the entire weekend as one day. So, if you were to pick up on Friday and return on Monday, it would only cost you a single day rental.

Step 3: Checkouts

You will want to hire your crew one day before production starts and have them go to the rental house and check the equipment. The reason for this is to make sure that everything is working properly before the shoot. The worst thing that can happen is to have everyone show up on the first day of shooting only to find out that you are missing a cable to power the camera. This is a waste of money and time. Also note that once the equipment leaves the rental house, it is deemed in perfect condition. So anything that appears to be damaged at the return will be your responsibility even if it was "always like that". You will also need to have your trucks ready on this day so that your crew can load up all your equipment and have it ready to go for the shoot.

Step 4: Losses and Damages

If a critical piece of equipment gets damaged or lost during the shoot, you can always call the rental house to get a replacement. Even if they are closed, there is usually an emergency number to call. Do not abuse this so as not to spoil your relationship. At the end of the shoot when the equipment is returned, the rental house will look it over and inventory it. They will then send you a list of losses and damages that you are responsible for, up to the cost of your deductible. Do not be surprised when this happens.

Renting equipment should be carefully planned. Proper care and maintenance should keep costs down.

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