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Rulers of the Rental House

Rulers of the Rental House

Articles - Directing

With a great script, a competent
director can often turn a mediocre
a brilliant,
work of
art. And we all know that great actors can make stale dialogue
sparkle. But what kind of movie can you make without the right
equipment? When you’re striving to execute your vision, finding
the right equipment is one of the most important decisions you’ll
make as a moviemaker. And securing it from the right place ranks
nearly as high.

Because of that importance, you don’t want to make decisions blindly.
Just because you’ve heard that a particular video camera is cheap
or because you liked the look it gave someone else doesn’t mean
it’s the right choice for you. Luckily, there are experts ready,
willing and able to guide you as you investigate the options. Working
closely with your rental house can make all the difference as you
give yourself every advantage to make sure that your investment
pays off.

Following is a list of some of the top rental houses in the country
in terms of price, quality, customer service and reputation. Before
picking up the phone to call one or all of them, know some of the
questions to ask. And get the right answers before signing a contract.

Equipment History: What is the age
of the equipment?

Just like buying a car, you’ll want to be sure that the equipment
you’re renting is not only in the best possible working order the
day you get it, but that it hasn’t been abused in the past. Sure,
they’ll agree to replace it during your shoot, but you’re going
to lose valuable time that you cannot afford. So don’t be afraid
to ask about the age of the equipment and even its history. Also,
be sure to discuss the shots you’re planning, to make sure that
you’ve rented all the necessary accessories.

Price: How much is it going to cost me?

Obviously, price is a key factor in determining
which rental house to go with. Find out what the daily, weekly
and monthly rates are
for the desired equipment, and what sort of price breaks are offered.
In many cases, for example, it’s cheaper to rent your equipment
for a total of two weeks, as opposed to 10 days. And let’s face
it, who wouldn’t like the added security of knowing that if any
problems arise, you have a few extra days to make up any lost time.

On the other hand, if you know you’ll only need a day to
complete your project, consider setting your production for a weekend.
A number of houses offer a “weekender” rate, whereby you pick up
the equipment on Friday afternoon and have until Monday to return

Almost all houses have a number of discount
options for specific types of shoots or moviemakers. Some of
the most commonly found
discounts apply to students and non-profit organizations. Speak
with a number of houses and see if there’s an angle your production
has that will allow you even better pricing. At Hollywood Studio
Rentals in Burbank, CA, for instance, it pays to be a pro. Their “Pronet” discount
offers a 15 percent deduction when equipment is being used in a
professional capacity, such as on a television show or studio-supported
feature. That same 15 percent can be taken off the bills of those
involved with a professional trade organization such as SAG, WGA
or DGA and employed directly by a studio or station (I.D. is, of
course, required).

Duration: What is the minimum or maximum period
of time I can rent?

As far as maximums go, the sky is usually the
limit. But at a certain point, it may just pay for you to purchase
the equipment
outright. With a number of houses offering both sales and rentals,
you’ll get all the advice you’ll need as to at what point you’re
better off buying.

While most houses won’t rent equipment on an hourly basis, the
most you should have to pay for equipment being used for less than
a day is the price for a one-day rental. And again, who’s going
to argue with the flexibility and security that comes with having
a full 24 hours as opposed to two?

Flexibility: Will you charge me if my equipment
is not returned on time?

So you’re on your way back to the rental house with your equipment
when the car breaks down, you hit a major traffic jam, etc. As
in the rest of your life, being a tiny bit late is typically not
a problem—as long as you show the courtesy of giving your rental
agent a call to explain the situation. “We can be flexible under
many circumstances,” says Richard Wurman, general manager of Boston
Camera. At Zacuto Rentals in Chicago.

“We have 24-hour pick-up and return with our night drop room,” states
partner Steve Weiss. Customer service is the name of the game in
the rental house business and owners want to make sure that each of
their clients is receiving top-notch service. So if late equipment
affects another moviemaker, you can bet you’ll be charged for the
time. Plan ahead by giving yourself plenty of leeway, and plan

Consolidation: If I rent all my equipment from
one place, will I save money?

We all know how convenient one-stop shopping
can be. Why not let the same philosophy apply to camera and equipment
rentals? Even
if one house does not have everything you need, it doesn’t hurt
to ask where you can find it. “We’re lucky to have sub-rental relations
with virtually every house within a 100-mile radius,” says Robert
Shuster, Hollywood Studio Rentals’ corporation manager. The attitude
in the industry is one of cooperation, where good customer service
benefits everyone. Geography & Shipping: How much will it cost
to ship the equipment?

Though it may not immediately occur to you
to call an out-of-state house, in some cases it can actually
be more economical. On the
other hand, you might find that even though you can get the cheapest
lights from Seattle and the cheapest cameras from Chicago, once
you factor in all the costs, it’s not so inexpensive after all.
Assess the expenses plus the added risks of transportation.

Insurance: Am I adequately covered?

In each stage of production, insurance is a
moviemaker’s best
friend—and sometimes last saving grace. Compare policies before
agreeing to rent any equipment. Prices and coverage for the same
shoot can vary as wildly as airline ticket prices for the same
journey. And read the entire contract! On an “inexpensive” policy
there are often odd “exclusions” for equipment left in a vehicle
or third-party damages. Compare the cost of buying a year-long
policy to one that covers you for just one shoot. Even if you only
have a vague notion of shooting later in the year, it may make
sense to pay the additional amount now. Understand all the policy’s
terms, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The only stupid one
is the one not asked.

When you get there, check equipment thoroughly with one of the
resident experts and agree on the condition of each piece before
you take it out. Know what you are responsible for and what damages/services
the house covers.

Service and Support: Do you offer training or
technical support? What about emergency replacements?

Any reputable rental house offers tech support—and some even go
a few steps further by offering it at no charge, 24/7. Still others
offer free training, particularly on newer equipment, such as HD.
Often “technique training,” rather than basic usage training, is
part of the package.

Be sure to ask about what happens when an emergency replacement
is needed. Waiting for a replacement piece over a weekend could
easily send you behind schedule and over budget!

Testing: Can I test the equipment?  Ask if you’re
allowed to test the equipment (for free, of course) before renting.
The answer may be indicative of the house’s overall level of customer
service. Again, like a car, you want to make sure you like the
equipment before you fork over thousands of dollars and tons of
trust to shoot your project with it. Keep the likely shooting conditions
in mind. You may like the way a camera captures cover, but if you’re
going to be on the run in a rainforest, you don’t want 100 pounds
of equipment attached to you.

user-friendly RENTAL HOUSEs, coast to coast

Abel Cine Tech
66 Willow Ave.
Staten Island, NY 10305

4110 West Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91505

Abracadabra Video
644 Antone Street, Suite 7
Atlanta, GA 30318

Alpha Video
7711 Computer Ave.
Edina, MI 55435

American Production Services
2247 15th Ave. West
Seattle, WA 98119
888/282-1776; 206/282-1776
LA: 818/769-1776

Analog Digital International
20 East 49th Street
New York, NY 10017

Aqua Video
2265 Columbia
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33326

ARRI Camera Service Center
619 West 54th Street
New York, NY 10019

Atlantic Cine Equipment
210 West 29th Street
Baltimore, MD 21211

Available Lighting
826 Jefferson Highway
Jefferson, LA 70121

Bill Barnes Video Production
14238 Honeysuckle Ridge
Mathews, NC 28105

Bexel Corporation
3314 4th Ave. S.
Seattle, WA 98134

625 West 55th Street
New York, NY 10019

801 S. Main Street
Burbank, CA 91506

1821 Kaiser Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614

20239 N.E. 15th Court
Miami, FL 33179

5555 Oakbrook Parkway #160
Norcross, GA 30093

1001 N. Union Bower Rd. Suite130
Dallas, TX 75061

555 Herndon Parkway
Herndon, VA 20170

Big Zig HD Video
665 3rd Street, Suite 405
San Francisco, CA 94107

Birns and Sawyer, Inc.
1026 No. Highland Ave.
Hollywood, CA 90038

Boston Camera
1686 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02135

Broadcast Video Rentals
333 West 52nd Street, 2nd Floor
New York , NY 10019-6238
800/797-4287; 212/541-5390

Camera One
8523 15th Ave. NE
Seattle, WA 98115

Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment
12950 Raymer Street
N. Hollywood, CA 91605
888/88-DOLLY; 818/764-6726

9460 Delegates Drive
Orlando, FL 32837
888/33-STAGE; 407/851-3456

1901 East 51st Street, Ste. 38
Austin, TX 78723
888/75-TITAN; 512/473-0084

5045 Still Creek Ave.
Burnaby, B.C. V5C 5VI

Chesapeake Camera
825 A-R N. Hammonds Terry Rd.
Linthicum, MD 21090

Cine Photo Tech
48-20 70th Street
Woodside, NY 11377

101 Krog Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30307

Cine Rent West
155 Fell Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

2580 Upshur Street
Portland, OR 97210

Cine Services, Inc.
1556-60 South Broadway
St. Louis, MO 63104

Cinema East
7111 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL 33138

Cinequipt, Inc.
816 Ninth Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
800/809-9080; 612/627-9080

3000 Justin Drive, Suite A
Des Moines, IA 50322
888/809-9080; 515.270-7030

7330 NE 4th Court
Miami, FL 33138

Clairmont Camera
4343 Lankershim Blvd.
N. Hollywood, CA 91602

16 Overlea Blvd.
Toronto, Ontario M4H 1A4

1225 E. Keith Road, #2
Vancouver, BC V7J 1J3

Armanda Costanza, Inc.
240 Great Circle Rd., Suite 328
Nashville, TN 37228
800/YES-ARRI; 615/256-2663

CPS, Inc.
3916 Floyd
Houston, TX 77007

DTC Grip & Electric
809 Anthony Street
Berkeley, CA 94710

Du-All Camera
231 W. 29th Street, Suite 210
New York, NY 10001

Joe Dunton & Co. International
905 N. 23rd Street
Wilmington, NC 28405-1803

Film Shack
227 Roxbury Street
Roxbury, MA 02119

Film & Tape Works
237 E. Ontario Street
Chicago, IL 60611

Film/Video Equipment Service

800 S. Jason Street
Denver, CO 80223
800/776-8616; 303/778-8616

3100 W. Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91505
888/807-1900; 818/845-8066

3110 NE 2nd Avenue
Miami, FL 33137
800/345-5948; 305/576-5611

Fire & Light LLC.
377 Pine View North
Hudson, WI 54016

Fletcher Chicago
1000 N. Northbranch Sreet
Chicago, IL 60622
800/6-FLETCH; 312/932-2700

Gambino Camera Rental
544 Woodland Hills Drive
LaVergne, TN 37086

Gear Rental
912 East 5th Street
Austin, TX 78702

Gearhead Camera
2830 Newquay Lane
Richmond, VA 23236

Geo Film Group
7625 Hayvenhurst Ave., Suite 46
Van Nuys, CA 91406

Alan Gordon Enterprises
5625 Melrose Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90038

Gunner Camera and Lighting
5224 Vineland Ave.
N. Hollywood, CA 91601

Hand Held Films
315 W. 36th Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10018

Helix Camera & Video
310 S. Racine
Chicago, IL 60607
800/33-HELIX; 312/421-6000

Hello World Communications
118 West 22nd Street
New York, NY 10011

Hit & Run Productions
65 Roebling Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Hollywood Camera
3100 Damon Way
Burbank, CA 91505

Hollywood Rentals
3111 N. Kenwood Street
Burbank, CA 91505

9100C Perimeter Woods Drive
Charlotte, NC 28216

11497 Rocket Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32824

Hollywood Studio Rentals
2400 West Olive Ave.
Burbank, CA 91605

Industrial Audio/Video
2617 Bissonnet
Houston, TX 77005
800/392-4384; 713/524-1956

Kaye Lites
34B Holton Street
Woburn, MA 01801

Keslow Camera
11822 Teale Street
Culver City, CA 90230

Koerner Camera Systems, Inc.
2323 N. Williams Ave.
Portland, OR 97227
800/377-1132; 503/274-6533

LD Systems
483 W. 38th Street
Houston, Texas 77018

Liman Video Rental
341 W. 38th Street
New York, NY 10018
800/251-4625; 212/594-0086

MC Lighting
4309 Briarbend
Houston, TX 77035

Mobile Production Service
141 Regal Row
Dallas, TX 75247

Modern Image Film & Video
2512 N. University Avenue
Provo, UT 84604

Modern Movie Machines
13003 Murphy Road, Suite M-6
Stafford, TX 77477

Mopac Media
716 South Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78704

1135 N. Mansfield Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90038

545 W. 45th Street
New York, NY 10036

7400 Valjean
Van Nuys, CA 91406

15987 S Hilltop
Oregon City, OR 97045

3007 So. West Temple suite K
Salt Lake City, UT 84115
888/648-8324; 801/467-1920

North American Camera
338 N. Milwaukee Street, #307
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Oppenheimer Camera
666 S. Plummer Street
Seattle, WA 98134

2645 N. Mississippi
Portland, OR 97227

1305 Evans Avenue
San Francisco, CA

Otto Nemenz International
870 N. Vine Street
Hollywood, CA 90038

Pacific Camera
560 N. Nimitz Highway
Honolulu, HI 96817

Pacific Grip & Lighting
5251 SE McLoughlin Blvd.
Portland, OR 97202

10401 MLK Jr. Way South
Seattle, WA 98178

Performance Lighting Rentals
5200 Harrison Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Picture This Production Services & Stage
2223 NE Oregon Street
Portland, OR 97232

Producers Choice Lighting
8000 Agarita Drive
Austin, TX 78737

Production Consultants & Equipment
2235 DeFoor Hills Road
Atlanta, GA 30318
800/537-4021; 404/609-9001

2805 W. Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91505

3 Golden Square, Suite 14
London, W1F9HR

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