When producing a short film, it is imperative that you plan out your budget as clearly and precisely as possible, especially when it comes to your film equipment.

Budgeting may sound like a scary endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. If you enter The Film Fund, you’re eligible to win up to $10,000 toward your short film. In addition, when entering with The Film Fund, you are also eligible for a chance to win KitSplit gift cards where you can get equipment rentals. Be sure to check out all of our contests here

One of the most important costs to consider, especially when you’re first starting as a filmmaker, is whether or not you should rent or buy your equipment. 

To alleviate some of your stress, let’s go over some of the pros and cons of buying and renting your film equipment.

Renting

Pros

Cost

camera In focus during production the film fund

In the short term, it will cost much less to rent your film equipment; you aren’t paying exuberant amounts of money for a single piece of equipment that you must keep until you’re able to afford another.

You also aren’t responsible for the maintenance of the equipment. If a rental piece isn’t working correctly, you are able to return it and tell the individual you’re renting from that it isn’t working. If the piece is your own, you’re responsible for fixing the piece.

Access to Equipment

When you rent, you can try out different types of equipment. You are not limited to one expensive piece of equipment you’ve purchased; you’re able to test out different pieces as you wish.

It’s important to remember: different projects require different equipment because projects are not all uniform.

Renting allows you to work with this lack of uniformity and try out different pieces of equipment instead of limiting yourself solely to the ones you’ve been able to purchase.

a variety of camera equipment the film fund

Honing in Your Skills

Because renting allows you to try out different pieces of equipment, you will be able to practice your craft in a more diverse way. 

You will not be limited to one camera, for example; you’ll be able to acquire skills on a variety of cameras.

Teaches Budgeting

As we’ve mentioned already, budgeting is essential in film.

When you continuously rent your equipment, it helps you to learn how to effectively craft and follow a budget plan.

This is a key subject matter when working on a feature film, therefore, it is imperative you acquire this knowledge whilst you are still working on short films.

Cons

Cost

graphs on a computer the film fund

Even though in the moment, you appear to be paying less, if you rent equipment habitually, the costs can, and most likely will, end up totaling up to more than the cost of one piece of equipment if you had bought it outright.

Availability

When renting, you are subject to the renter’s availability. They can’t just make equipment appear out of thin air; if a piece of equipment is already rented out, then you’re going to have to wait until it’s back in stock if you really want it.

This means waiting until the piece you want is returned, or having to choose a different piece of equipment entirely. 

Ability to Sell

When you own your own equipment, there is always the possibility of selling the equipment once you feel like you lack a use for it. This can result in quite the profit.

When you don’t own the equipment, though, you have nothing to sell, and while you’re continuously spending money on acquiring rental equipment, you never gain the ability to profit off of it.

This will also make it more difficult in the long run if you ever decide you want to stop renting equipment. While you’ve spent time spending your funds on renting equipment, you probably won’t have much wiggle room to finally settle down and buy something.

Time

Although it is convenient to rent, picking up and returning your equipment will take time, time that must be blocked into your production schedule.

If you own the film equipment, this is time that could be saved in your schedule.

Acquiring Skills

filming a woman from an interesting angle the film fund

This one can be viewed as either a pro or a con.

When renting equipment, you will most likely get good at a variety of skills on a variety of equipment, but you will probably find that you do not become a master at any of them considering you’re trying out so many different pieces.

Buying

Pros

Availability

When you buy your equipment, you are able to use the equipment whenever, however, and wherever you choose, which greatly contrasts renting and needing to coordinate with other renters’ schedules.

Acquiring Skills

If you own your film equipment, you have the time to completely master your skills; equipment is available at your leisure and you can practice as much as you want. 

You are not limited by time constraints.

Become a Renter

If you own your equipment and are looking to make money, you have the ability to rent out your equipment which can bring in a much needed income.

Cons

Insurance Costs

In addition to paying for the equipment itself, you must remember that you have to pay for insurance as well.

Technological Advancements

camera on top of a map the film fund

Technology changes and evolves quickly. When you buy equipment, before you know it, there’s going to be a new advancement.

Keep this in mind.

Something that could be more appealing about renting is that you will have the ability to try out new equipment as it is released, whereas once you buy, you are more likely to be locked into the models that you own.

Though, as you can see, there are numerous pros and cons to both buying and renting. 

There isn’t a correct answer as to what you should do, but hopefully these pros and cons will give you a sense of guidance.

Don’t forget, in addition to the KitSplit gift cards, when entering The Film Fund, you also have a chance to win a 2-day rental of a Blackmagic URSA Mini G2 and an ARRI Prime Lens Set sponsored by Expressway Cinema Rentals (prize depends on our current sponsors; see email newsletter for most up-to-date prizes)! 

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