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Old March 24th, 2009, 07:51 AM   #1
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Questions regarding Production Company Startup - Need Help assembling a Gear list

Hello all! I am in the process of starting up a video production company, and with so many options regarding equipment I would like to see what you guys/girls recommend before I spend my hard earned cash.

I would also like to know how you guys set up your business. Did you lease equipment cause you could write it off at the end of the year as opposed to buying it straight out and not being able to write it off? Is there anything I should know regarding setting up this business that would save money?

I've assembled a gear list and would like to have your opinion if you think it is right for me. On the selfish side I want to shoot documentary's, Feature films, and travel stuff (so travel friendly is a concern). And on the more realistic side I will be shooting Corporate videos/weddings/training vids and the like. If you could let me know what you think of the gear and have any brand suggestions, I'd love to hear it from you! I want this stuff to last for many years, so quality is a factor. I'm looking to get a Red One Look on an EX1 budget. Thanks, Trent


Gear List and approx Budget in Canadian $:

Sony Ex1 -------------------------------------------- 9000 (do you recommend ex3?)
Matte Box kit 1000

Detachable Video Light -------------------------------- 700
Shotgun Microphone w/ Wind Cover 750

camera bag and accessories -------------------------- 1000
Polarizing Filter and netural density 9 gradualted filter 300

Adjustable tripod (hold letus and lenses) -------------- 2000 (miller ds20) ???
light kit 2500 (Lowel) ???

lavelier mic------------------------------------------- 1000
digital stills camera slr -------------------------------- 1000 (Nikon d90 body)

rails for ex1 and letus 1000
32 gb sxs card --------------------------------------- 2000
Chest-Mounted Glidecam 2000

Macbook Pro ( big editing screen --------------------- 6000
external HD 5 tb 1000

Leuts elite ------------------------------------------ 2000 (is ult. a better invstmnt?)
50 mm lense nikon 600 (to be used with d90 & ex1)
85 mm lense nikon ----------------------------------- 800 (to be used with d90 & ex1)
zoom lens 800 (to be used with d90 & ex1)
Underwater housing (for slr) ------------------------- 1500 (to be used with the d90)

Grand total $36950

So that is what I have so far. Am I missing anything? What brands/makes do you recommend? thanks.
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Old March 24th, 2009, 01:15 PM   #2
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Just wondering, $37K is a lot to drop for most people in this economy.
Especially when media budgets are declining. Do you have any established clients?

With regard to leasing or purchasing equipment, it would be best to discus that with your accountant.
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Old March 24th, 2009, 03:30 PM   #3
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Did you lease equipment cause you could write it off at the end of the year as opposed to buying it straight out and not being able to write it off?
I think you need to talk to an accountant. I CERTAINLY write off my equipment against earnings and it is all purchased outright.
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Old March 24th, 2009, 04:46 PM   #4
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You are right - getting an account is going to be one of the first things I need to do.

I do have clients lined up and also I am optimistic about getting even more clients. I'm not to scared about the economy - Regarding the budget: I figured 40 grand was a standard for getting into competitive video production and what I want to do privately.

Any suggestions on equipment that would fit in nicely with that set-up? Anybody have any experience with the Miller tripod with letus and ex1 on it?
thanks for your reply's
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Old March 25th, 2009, 06:34 AM   #5
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I do have clients lined up and also I am optimistic about getting even more clients. I'm not to scared about the economy - Regarding the budget: I figured 40 grand was a standard for getting into competitive video production and what I want to do privately.
Being optimistic, and actually having clients, are two very different things. Without clients and income this is just a very expensive hobby without a tax write-off.

You figured 40 grand was a standard for getting into competitive video production?
How did you figure that?
Have you done a market survey to see what services are needed, and what gear is needed to provide those services?
Have you even put together a business plan?
How do you propose to pay $40K for the gear on your list?

How do you support yourself now?
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Old March 25th, 2009, 01:40 PM   #6
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Being optimistic, and actually having clients, are two very different things. Without clients and income this is just a very expensive hobby without a tax write-off.

You figured 40 grand was a standard for getting into competitive video production?
How did you figure that?
Have you done a market survey to see what services are needed, and what gear is needed to provide those services?
Have you even put together a business plan?
How do you propose to pay $40K for the gear on your list?

How do you support yourself now?

David, You are smart to question me, as getting over my head would be a very bad mistake. I have done extensive research and posses a very indepth business plan. I have 20 grand in contracts lined up for corporate work prior to any purchase of any equipment. I have a degree in Film Production so I am not going into video production blind - although the technology has vastly improved since I graduated in 2003. As of now I own a Painting and Renovation company to support myself, and the purchase of any equipment. Also I will be still managing and taking an income from that company as I start this new venture. I've been in business for myself for several years and am not worried about making even more sales, because that is one of my strong suits - proven in my Reno business and obtaining pre sales in Film Production before I have even gotten it off the ground. Thank you again for your concern.

Now in Regards to my equipment that I would like to purchase, do you have any suggestions on it as I am a little out of date on what is the best products? thanks in advance.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 11:12 AM   #7
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The only one who knows what you should purchase would be you.

What you buy depends upon what you will be shooting.

You list looks fine. This seems like an expensive business, but in reality, most "normal" business get loans for a lot more to start ventures.

Camera, tripod, mics, editing system & a good production monitor are the most important.

You can rent lights and stands as needed or buy later.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 11:40 AM   #8
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You can rent lights and stands as needed or buy later.
I don't disagree but I do believe that a BASIC three point light kit (if interviews and such are an integral part of your business model) is nearly a must, especially if you live in a centre with few rental houses. This allows for last minute shoots (a fair bit of my business) without having to hit the rental house first and hope they have a complete kit available. Something as simple as 3 Lowel Prolights with barn doors and stands and gels COULD fit this bill for under $1000. Throw in one umbrella if budget allows.

I haul my Lowel kit (5 prolights and a Rifa softbox) to most gigs that are indoors JUST IN CASE. Sometimes I leave the kit in the vehicle. I also have a 25w on camera Anton Bauer UltraLight2 (with dichroic and wide angle diffuser), also JUST IN CASE.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 10:36 PM   #9
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I absolutely LOVE to spend other people's money vicariously. But I think you're heading down the wrong path - you're listing no-budget indie gear, not pro stuff you can make a living with.

I would forget the matte box, Glidecam, rails and Letus for the moment and spend much more on audio.

I'd also budget for gaffer/grip gear - c-stands, weight bags, booms, flags, scrims, cucs, etc, which add up really fast. You'll also need to spend 2x more on lights if you want to do commercial work.

The camera is perhaps the last thing you should buy. I know shooters at the high end who don't own cameras. They rent. The client dictates what format you shoot and there are a zillion formats out there - you can't own them all.

Your list shows you need some more experience... I'd buy as little as possible at first and get some jobs under your belt with less gear so you know what's important.

Spend your money in this order: first on quality audio gear - preferably by hiring a pro audio guy - but if none are available where you are, get Lectro wireless, Sound Devices mixer, mkh416 shotgun, tram or countryman lavs. Second, a good tripod. Then get lights - a Lowel Rifa Pro kit for run-n-gun travel; for commercial work, get Arri fresnels and Kino divas. With what little's left, get a travel camera but count on renting real cameras for real jobs.

And remember, it's a craft you learn by doing. Get out there and shoot with what you've got now.

Last edited by Chuck Fadely; March 27th, 2009 at 11:07 PM.
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Old March 27th, 2009, 11:29 PM   #10
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Bingo! Thanks Chuck!
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Old March 28th, 2009, 10:48 AM   #11
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I have 20 grand in contracts lined up for corporate work prior to any purchase of any equipment.
You don't really need a great equipment list if you can pull this off with no experience, no company, and no gear. You could just hire someone with experience to do the job well and be the sales guy for awhile. Once you have generated $30K in sales and learned all that you can from the experienced production person, then buy the gear, that way there is no risk. Good sales people are much harder to find than good production people, in my experience. You should play to your existing strength.

That said, if the gear addiction has its hooks in you already, it is too late. My recommendation would be to buy as much of this stuff used, instead of new, as you can. There is a lot of great lightly used gear for sale here, much of it is stuff that is on your list or very similar to what is on your list. You can save thousands - just ask the seller if they're equipped to send along an invoice, and you can still write it off, and not have to put up as much money up front, thereby lessening the risk.
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Old March 28th, 2009, 10:52 AM   #12
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Data Storage/Archival

Hi there,

If you're shooting tapeless then you need a more robust storage plan. I would
strongly recommend RAID storage, which will be an issue with your Macbook pro
set up, as you'll be limited to firewire raid.

This is something that most people seem to under-estimate, but it can really come
back to bite you in the butt. Redundancy is absolutely crucial without any sort of
tape back up. There also doesn't seem to be an archival system in place - I would
suggest that you look into getting a blu-ray writer to archive older footage. This
cost can be billed into all your upcoming jobs.

Good luck with your new venture,

Sandeep.
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Old March 28th, 2009, 12:16 PM   #13
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I have 20 grand in contracts lined up for corporate work prior to any purchase of any equipment.

Now in Regards to my equipment that I would like to purchase, do you have any suggestions on it as I am a little out of date on what is the best products? thanks in advance.
Sorry I hate to sound like a jerk, but being blunt, I find it hard to believe that you have $20K in corporate contracts lined up without having a production company, or a way to produce a product for said clients for that matter.
And for a corporation to need video services performed, but to say... Lets hold off on producing this $20K video we need until this guy who owns a Painting and Renovation company buys some video production gear with the advice he gets from an internet forum is preposterous.

In regards to your equipment selection.... I thought you said you had a business plan put together?

How could you bid on $20K worth of work without knowing what gear you will need to complete said projects?


In my honest opinion... Put that $40K back into your painting and renovation company.
Which is a service people are more likely to use in this economy.
Rather than the dwindling video production field.
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Old March 28th, 2009, 12:21 PM   #14
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Hi there,

If you're shooting tapeless then you need a more robust storage plan. I would
strongly recommend RAID storage, which will be an issue with your Macbook pro
set up, as you'll be limited to firewire raid.

Sandeep.
Sorry, but you are mistaken about being limited to a firewire raid when using a MacBook Pro.
I use a SATA raid with my MBP all the time.
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Old March 28th, 2009, 12:45 PM   #15
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Thanks for the correction David. I'd like to get one for myself now!

Sandeep.
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