Over the past three years, Mezzanine Films has worked on some large productions, shooting overseas in trying conditions that required specific equipment. Rather than hire everything we needed, whenever possible, we elected to purchase the gear. Obviously, this reduced our profit margin on each particular job but it meant we were able to stockpile an impressive arsenal of expensive equipment – Red Camera’s, an Arri Amira, a Black Magic Mini Ursa Pro, lenses, gimbals, tripods, drones and a vast array of lighting kits. Thousands of dollars worth of high-end film equipment, that when it’s not being used on a Mezzanine Films shoot, we rent out.
Because Mezzanine Films is not a dedicated rental house, we are able to offer significant discounts on our equipment. Consequently, a large number of our customers are students or new-users with minimal budgets. We love the idea of enabling inexperienced operators state of the art equipment at an affordable price. The problem is, renting equipment to people who have not used it before can result in miss-use, damage and endless hours of after-sales service.
Recently a quad V-lock battery charger was returned with all the stations hanging of the body because the user couldn’t find the release button and simply ripped the charged batteries and off the charger. A MOVI pro rental became a major weekend commitment for our DOP who spent endless hours on the phone to the customer explaining how to calibrate and use device. Not to mention the number of cables, lens caps, batteries and shot bags that go missing like socks in a Laundromat dryer.
So what’s the answer? Do we continue to rent our expensive equipment to people who are unqualified to use it? Or do we limit our rent roll to only experienced users? After much consideration, we have decided to continue to rent our equipment at an affordable price to anyone who has a project that needs it. However, from now on, we will provide a full tuition and test period for anyone who is using the equipment for the first time or is unsure of its functions. We still get the buzz of providing high-end equipment to new users and ambitious filmmakers have an affordable alternative to source quality gear, it’s a win, win!