Film kit – to buy or not to buy?

Filmmakers everywhere are asking themselves whether they should invest in production and post-production equipment – is it a good decision or a waste of money?

15th November 2017
/ By Andrew Wooding

Buying film kit for your production company advice GETTY

As ever, the answer depends on your circumstances.


Are you a self-shooter or a production company?
If you're planning a life (or even a short term life) of filming events, promos and low-budget music videos on your own, then kit is something you'll need. Most companies or individuals expect you to have your own gear and with the last-minute nature of many gigs, you won't want to be fiddling around with a rental company's forms on the eleventh hour.

If you're running a larger company dealing with bigger events, commercials and music videos then bigger purchases might come in handy but a relationship with several rental companies will more or less be a necessity, depending on the work that comes in.

Obtaining equipment and making an additional revenue stream by renting it out can also be a great idea if you've got the manpower to run it. Similarly, owning or long-term renting a studio space can save on overheads and up your income.

However, if you're looking to make narrative fiction for a living, a kit investment might not be the way to go.


What kind of productions do you want to make?
The old rule is this: if you want to make narrative fiction stories then invest your money in productions. It might feel like a lot of pressure to make the film worthwhile, but that's the point, right?

Spending all of your money on kit and leaving none leftover to pay cast and crew or to rent locations, costumes or create excellent production design means you'll end up with something lacklustre. Paying for these all-important assets disciplines you into making your creative choices carefully and forces you to ask yourself, is this really the story I want to tell?

Of course, if you have the money to do both then go for it!


What kit?
Remember, you don't have to go the "all or nothing" route. Buying a camera body, one prime lens and a mic as a basic set-up with some editing software could be the thing for you.

With so much film equipment out there today – including recording capabilities on your smartphone – the possibilities are endless. Scale your kit list up or down depending on the demands of the job. Ask yourself what you'll need? Why will you need it? Do you need it, need it or want it?

If you're not using a gadget you've owned for over a year, then get rid.


Mandy News says: Customise your attitude to buying kit based on what filmmakers or videographers doing what you love are doing. Be realistic.

Don't waste money on kit you don't need but don't end up spending thousands on rentals for an item you know you'll use time and time again.