Film Equipment for Indie Filmmakers: To Buy or to Rent?Marc Ehrenbold
A common dilemma faced by young, aspiring indie filmmakers is whether to buy or to rent film equipment, and although renting may seem like the obvious choice when considering that most are starting out with limited budgets, it is surprising that many tend to overlook rental options completely.
Like budget, there are many other factors that indie filmmakers should consider when deciding whether to buy or to rent film equipment. Not only will the correct decision lead to a more efficient project, but it could also enhance your production career and reputation for making cost effective decisions. Here are 3 key considerations to make when deciding whether to rent or buy:
As we’ve already mentioned budget, we’ll start here. When indie filmmakers start out, equipment is not usually provided and therefore costs of equipment and total budget must be factored in when making the decision to buy or rent. For indie filmmakers with no financial constraints the decision is easy: to buy or rent the best possible equipment for the project. However for those with limited starting budgets, there is a dilemma. To rent suitable equipment to produce a stunning project or to sacrifice quality and buy affordable equipment that is below the required level needed to produce amazing results. Unfortunately many fall into the latter category.
We believe that no matter what the situation is, budget shouldn’t prevent you from producing high quality projects. Here’s where rental options come in handy, as they present you with the ability to complete projects to professional standards without the investment needed to buy equivalent equipment. Another key benefit of renting for the budget conscious is the time and money saved with the maintenance of equipment that is usually handled by the film equipment rental company.
Another key consideration that indie filmmakers need to make when considering whether to buy or to rent film equipment is future projects. Besides current or imminent projects, are there any projects in the near future that would require you to use your own equipment? If so, it may be best in terms of cost efficiency to invest in your own equipment. On the flipside, if you only have one or two projects lined up for the next year, it may not be viable to own all of that equipment.
We’ve seen many independent filmmakers invest a substantial amount of money in equipment, only to use it once or twice in a year, and then be faced with the release of newer and greater technology being released the next year to their frustration. Renting enables filmmakers to use the newest equipment available at the time of their projects, which is a very compelling proposition for some.
Experience and Skill Level
The level of experience and skill of an indie filmmaker making their first film is going to be worlds apart from a filmmaker who has been producing films of all kinds for more than 20 years. Ultimately, a filmmakers level of knowledge or experience with a particular piece of equipment is going to affect their judgement of what to expect.
With this said, for those with limited experience it could prove helpful to rent a few different options to gain an understanding of their capabilities and to decide which works best. On top of this, most rental companies will provide assistance or support if you have problems using a feature. For those who have experience, know exactly what to expect and understand what they need for a project, it may make more sense to buy a piece of equipment if budget permits and other factors such as future projects, length of shoot and location are considered.
In addition to those mentioned above, there are a number of considerations that need to accounted for when deciding whether to rent or buy film equipment such as location or length of project. These factors need to be evaluated individually and collectively and a decision should be based on your individual circumstances on a project-by-project basis in relation to these.
As we mentioned before, many indie filmmakers have overlooked rental options completely when starting out. However, they are certainly worth considering with the many benefits such as flexibility, cost effectiveness, and time savings as well as the added experience and guidance that many rental companies provide. If you are an indie filmmaker interested in shooting your next project and require some assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us or take a look at our equipment for hire.