User Advice – Hiring a Camera

The Camera Map sat down with VMI’s MD, Barry Bassett, to ask what advice he would offer crew who want to approach a hire company. Here are his tips:

How can I ease the task of hiring a camera?
Come prepared with as much information as possible about your production, schedule and budget. With this level of information, any good hire company can sit with you and ask the right questions to help ensure a successful shoot. It helps if you have familiarised yourself with the company’s online rate card and camera packages beforehand. You will always receive a more favourable deal when sticking to the range of equipment stocked by a given rental company.
Is insurance included?
At VMI and many other companies, insurance is not included in the cost of hire. You will always be recommended to take out your own insurance policy and most rental companies will recommend companies/brokers to approach. It is worth noting though that an annual policy can be competitive with short-term policies, even for 2-3 hires.
I’m worried about issues related to damage to the kit – any advice?
There are two aspects to this: a) thoroughly check the operation of the camera & lenses before leaving, with a free camera test, and b) treat the kit as if it was your own!
What requirements are there, prior to hiring?
Typically you should expect to supply references, trading history, insurance documents and a completed ‘new client’ application form.
How do I pick the right camera for my shoot?
Ask your hire company! They have a wealth of knowledge, expertise and tips for both filmmakers & broadcasters and many companies have a comprehensive website with helpful technical features to assist you in making good decisions.

Camera tests at VMI
Any other recommendations?
DO make a point of building trust and a long-term relationship – it is a two-way street where both parties gain. DO your homework and be reasonable about choosing alternatives to your equipment choices if it means that the rental house can offer you a better deal. DON’T demand multiple quote options if your budget is vague – it’s time-consuming for both parties and might not result in the best deal. DO be prepared to make compromises, even if your DP tells you otherwise – THEY don’t have to pay the bill!


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