Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Next Generation Kit

With the previous chat on kits I felt I had bring this us: The Kit Rental... seems to be a dying breed. Now, I'm referring to "kits" as opposed to full on packages owned by Key Grips. With budgets getting smaller and producers wanting to squeeze more blood from our bones, I'm seeing a trend where kit rentals are being reduced to nothing.

My job is that of Dolly Grip - not Pencil Pusher. I deal in wedges, track and dollies. Most of my kit is stuff that makes my job easier. Lazers to help with marks, on board monitors to help with actors who can't hit marks, Cardellini Headlocks to help with that last second switch over in heads and speed wheels to help with the crappy track the rental houses have in their inventory.

I know that I'm not going to get rich off this stuff. It berely buys beer for the truck at the end of the week, but it makes my day go smoother. Would production be able to find most of this stuff at a rental house? I doubt it. I've always tried to stay of their toes and that way we're not having to do the "cheaper quote dance".

But now it's getting to the point of where producers don't want to pay focus pullers for their remote focus units (Preston, BFD, etc) - a huge time saver and a big investment. I've been trying to pull the cash together to purchase GI track, and I don't see a return on my investment especially based on the way the economy is going and with the studios producing less and less each year.

A lot of this comes from producers getting boned by guys who showed up with a wrench in their pocket and demanded a kit rental, then forcing production rent other kit related tools and ending up paying twice for the same kit.

How do you get around it?


D said...

Generally, my Key Grip makes the deals for me and then I tell him whether it's acceptable or not. For things like my wheels, slider etc, with my regular Key it's run through his company and he writes me a check at the end of the show so the deal is on him. For the show I'm about to (probably) do, the rate is low so they're offering a little larger box rental to compensate but again, the Key negotiated and he knew that for me to do the show I needed a certain amount and the producer went for it. It's absolutely true that we often pay the price for some jackass in the past taking advantage of production.

Anonymous said...

Charging for tools of the trade is always tricky. A true professional will often carry his or her own kit because it makes the job go smoother, and production has every reason to pay for this kit because it will directly impact how smooth the shoot goes and almost certainly save them money and add to quality. There are obviously jackasses who shaft producers, but these guys are generally fly-by-night type of guys. Producers ought to be able to see who are the guys serious about their job. Most of the time crew owns kit out of pride in their jobs, because it enables them to do their job better. It would be a shame if producers didn,t acknowledge this.

Anonymous said...

I agree on everything you guys said!

I'm just doing my first job without (most of) my Kit right now and I already hate it.

The thing I miss most are my trolleys, two small carts with everything I usually need from tools to dolly parts to underlay and so on.
These trolleys are perfected for TV-Work on location (mostly 90min TV-Movies). They make my start in the morning foolproof because I don't need to think about what to bring to set (for 90 percent of the shots everything is on them). Also they are small enough to fit in even very tiny elevators.

I have my own assorted collection of scaffold tubing and clamps for rigging cameras to anything that crosses my way.

Then there is a big collection of tools a workbench for the Truck and a Pair of aluminum ramps to get small cranes out of sprinter Transport Vans and to get the Trolleys over small stairs.

There are Wire spreaders for Tripods (Thanks to Mr. Pearce) Lots of Safety Harness and rope stuff.
and a Ladderpod.

I did the "I buy something new and you pay it" deal for many years so my Kit grew step by step.
Now I really can't think of anything to buy exept for bigger things like my own track (I am tired to apologize for the crappy tracks from some rentals) or something similar but you can't beat the package price from the rental houses so I don't think that would be a good Idea.
I Try to get a small rental rate for my kit now - usually successful.

Greetz Dan

Camera Girl said...

I was just wondering if in your opinion this would apply to camera/ lens kits as well.
I'm starting off on my professional career, barely out of film school. Though I'd really like to invest in one of the better camera kits out there, truth be said, I just can't at the moment. Moreover it feels like there's no point in investing in a mid range cine gear kit just coz one falls behind with technology every year. I do however adapt well to different camera makes and do a good job even with new gear. Where in your opinion would that place someone like myself on the professional grid?