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Old October 1st, 2008, 12:51 PM   #1
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Buy vs Rent camera for documentary?

Sorry for my poor English, but i try to explain it.I need to some some decisions, before i can begin make a documentary for a broadcaster in my country. When you make a documentary... do you rent a camera, or buy it?

When i know a good subject for a documentairy, do i need make first the whole documentairy and sale it to broadcasters? Docu --->> broadcaster ---> money.
Buy i dont have any money now, so i need money from a broadcaster to make a documentairy. So is it better is make first the documentary, en then sale it to broadcasters, or let the broadcaster pay first, and then make the documentary?
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Old October 1st, 2008, 02:56 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jos de Waard View Post
Sorry for my poor English, but i try to explain it.I need to some some decisions, before i can begin make a documentary for a broadcaster in my country. When you make a documentary... do you rent a camera, or buy it?

When i know a good subject for a documentairy, do i need make first the whole documentairy and sale it to broadcasters? Docu --->> broadcaster ---> money.
Buy i dont have any money now, so i need money from a broadcaster to make a documentairy. So is it better is make first the documentary, en then sale it to broadcasters, or let the broadcaster pay first, and then make the documentary?
Okay.

Typically, if your shoot is going to be 3 days or less, renting is the better option. You can afford better gear and the gear you shoot with always state-of-the-art.

If it's going to be a week or more, buying is usually the better option. Especially on decent cameras you can get back a large portion of your purchase price selling it used when you're done using it.

Now, money.

If you make the documentary, there is no guarantee that a broadcaster will pay for it. This route is for the really passionate, who want to make the film no matter what. This is also good if you're a starting director, in which case, buy a cheap consumer camera, a decent microphone for it, and jump in.

If you get a broadcaster interested first, congratulations. But do not expect them to cut you a check. What they will probably do is give you a contract which says: "Deliver the program at this date, and we will give you this amount of money."

Take that contract with you to a bank, and the bank will give you money for a loan against the future income that will come from fulfilling that contract. With that money, you can buy your equipment, hire your crew, etc.

What I would honestly do is save up about $2000 by working on other projects or a day job, buy yourself a nice decent consumer cam (Perhaps a used HV20/30?), a decent set of microphones (Rode Videomic Shotgun? ATR-55 wired-lav?) some basic NLE software (Adobe Premiere Elements? Vegas Studio?) and edit some DV films of short-subjects - 20 minutes, max. Practice will get you to Carnegie Hall.
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Old October 2nd, 2008, 06:45 AM   #3
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buy what you need used, as stated before if your shoot is going to last more than a week.
you can score nice gear on the used market, and then resell it and not really lose any money.
Here is a great example. I bought my FX1 as a Sony refurb, paid $2300 for it. Used it for 3.5years. Outstanding camera, solid, probably should have kept it. Sold it locally for $2100.
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Old October 8th, 2008, 11:19 AM   #4
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It really depends on whether you're going to use the camera again of course, but buying has a lot of advantages.

In addition to the great reasons already mentioned (particularly the one about cameras holding their value), you'll need to get used to the camera. Modern cameras have dozens of features on them and it takes time to familarise yourself with them and for your use of the camera to become intuitive - even longer if you don't have a lot of camera experience. Buying will give you the time to practice without worrying about having to return it the next day.

I'm not the best to advise you on the route to broadcast (hopefully that'll be different this time next year), but the commissioning editors I have met socially always LOVE to see a sample first. A well produced (great visuals, sound and narrative) sample will show them you're capable of delivering the finished product.

Many people don't bother, but it really isn't all that much trouble to go to if you're a new filmmaker and if the filming can take place locally.
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Old October 8th, 2008, 01:24 PM   #5
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Certainly in the UK broadcasters usually like dealing with production companies that they've built up a relationship with or have experience in other sectors of the industry. They don't deal with individuals, but companies and an individual would be directed to get involved with (or introduced) to a production company if the broadcaster was interested in the project.

I don't know about Belgium, but if you've never made a documentary or other type of film before chances, you're going to need to shoot and perhaps edit a sample section of the final production. However, I suspect you'll just have to make the whole film, finding funding from where ever you can just to demonstrate you can actually make a film. You'd then have to try sale it in various markets and attempt to build up from that.

Best way would be to meet producers whom you trust from production companies that make documentaries for the TV market and pitch the idea to them, so that they, if interested, can take under their company's umbrella with you on board and pitch it to the broadcasters.
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Old October 14th, 2009, 05:07 AM   #6
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I always rent it because I am of the opinion that this is cheaper. Of course I really want to own such a camera some time in the future but for now I do not have the money to buy such a camera.
A few weeks ago I needed a ladder and I wanted to hire one. Due to this I did an internet research and found an interesting site where you can hire many different things. In my case I hired a ladder. Back on topic in the future I will definitely hire the camera there because they have a good assortment and it is not as expensive as I thought. So just check it out.
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