Starting up a professional productiong company. How do i best spend my money?
We have around $9000 to spend for equipment.
I have made this list of things to purchase but i am not sure if they are the optimum choices for the small amount of money.
We will be doing biopics and corporate videos of sorts.
here is the current list:
ITEM NAME ITEM PRICE
Apple MacBook Pro MGXC2LL/A 15.4-Inch Laptop with Retina Display (NEWEST VERSION) LAPTOP 2,374.99
Kino Flo Gaffer Select 4Bank 2 Light Kit LIGHT KIT 2,630.95
Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera with EF Mount CAMERA 1,995.00 USD
SanDisk Extreme II 480GB SATA 6.0GB/s 2.5-Inch 7mm Height Solid State Drive (SSD) With Read Up To 545MB/s & Up To 95K IOPS- SDSSDXP-480G-G25 CAMERA DRIVE 299.79 USD
Rokinon Cine CV14M-C 14mm T3.1 Cine Wide Angle Lens for Canon with De-Clicked Aperture and Follow Focus Compatibility 14-14mm Wide-Angle Lens LENS 370.00 USD
Rokinon Cine CV35-C 35mm T1.5 Aspherical Wide Angle Cine Lens with De-Clicked Aperture for Canon EOS DSLR 35-35mm, Fixed-Non-Zoom Lens LENS 488.61 USD
TASCAM DR DR-60D Linear PCM Recorder for DSLR Filmmaking and Field Recording AUDIO RECORDER 259.00 USD
Rode NTG2 Condenser Shotgun Microphone MICROPHONE 263.00 USD
NHT N-O2B-ARC High Performance Outdoor Loudspeaker (Matte Black, Single) OUTDOOR SPEAKERS
(2 PCS) 262.94 USD (EACH)
ePhotoInc Top Handle Camera Cage For Black Magic Video Movie Camera Follow Focus BMC-R CAMERA CAGE 179.99 USD
Ravelli AVTP Professional 75mm Video Camera Tripod with Fluid Drag Head TRIPOD 129.96 USD
CalDigit Thunderbolt Station - Thunderbolt Interface Expansion Device for Mac and PC
Apple MD861ZM/A Thunderbolt Cable - 2.0 M (NEWEST VERSION) CABLE 36.99 USD
Kino Flo - 4' Kino 800ma KF32 SFC True Match Fluorescent Lamp (6 Lamps) FLOURESCENT LAMP 136.88 USD
Kino Flo - 4' Kino 800ma KF55 SFC True Match Fluorescent Lamp (6 Lamps) FLOURESCENT LAMP 131.70 USD
For 9 grand, you don't really have enough to start, for anything more than a bare-bones wedding/event biz. And a list of gear is not necessarily the first thing to spend that money on.
While I would budget for a great editing system and loads of storage, when starting out, I feel you should rent gear only as and when you need it, billing thru to the clients adn adding a markup, so the more clients you have, the more stuff their projects buy you. That way you get what you need for each specific project.
A real production company has a lot of costs associated in running it, not the least of which is insurance, accounting and legal costs.
Then marketing and promotion. The fun stuff, the "toys"... actually comes last after all the boring business costs.
Listen to what Mark says.
But also... lose the Kinos, don't even consider them. Yes, they are great instruments, but you have almost no budget. Get by with inexpensive tungsten or LED instruments until you have several multiples of that to spend.
I didn't see any kind of software on your list... FCP or Premiere, After Effects, the Adobe Creative Suite, etc. etc. etc.... that will be a SUBSTANITAL hunk of that budget.
Not to rain on your parade, but there's probably easily another 9-grand worth of little bits and pieces you'll find you need to put together even the barest-bones of kits for a professional production company.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Ditto Mark & TT. Do you live somewhere without sales tax? In addition to insurance how about accounting & legal fees? Salaries until you start getting paid jobs actually paid? Auto and mileage costs? There are MANY, MANY, MANY more things to consider than equipment.
Thanks for your advice. Would you say that it would be better to rent or purchase a camera? And would the black cinema be a good pick?
It depends on you, really: with $9k, I'd say rent everything. It allows you to work with multiple cameras for various uses and if you find one you consistently rent, hopefully you've made enough money to buy it. :) Find a good rental house and ask around too. They want your business for the long run so they'll help where they can. As you build your skills, some things are better bought and some better rented.
Also, most production places I've worked with rent cameras, lights, gear, stands, electrical and the like for their projects. When the project is all done, everything just goes back to the rental houses. They keep all the cards on multiple disks and backups which go out to be edited at the base of operations in wherever and the crew go home. It seems to work for them since each project is a sort of ad hoc solution and needs are different each time. You'll figure out the type of gear you like to have around for each situation. You'll learn to price equipment rentals into your estimates - they're usually posted on the websites, too.
Save early. Save often.
When you're just starting out, don't buy a ton of stuff. Rent. Rent. Rent. It's cheaper in the short run and you don't have to worry about storing and maintaining equipment - let the rental company worry about that. Save the $ for insurance, software, consumables, taxes/licenses, office supplies, Costco memberships, legal/accounting, etc. Consider the Adobe CC route for software: $50 a month for access to Adobe's entire collection, including Premier and After Effects ($600 a year, I'm so glad Adobe finally started offering subscriptions as their products just got considerably cheaper: $600 a year instead of nearly $3k every 2 years for me). Rental companies want you to either have insurance or provide a deposit or both so your spare cash can go there. Also, if you spend all your cash on equipment, you have nothing for hard costs, marketing/advertising, consumables, etc. Don't forget, that laptop will become obsolete sooner than you think and you have to either replace it or upgrade. Consider a more robust machine for home/office, too (I even like the iMac with an i7). Also, unless you already have a network of paying clients, you will need to spend lots of time working your sales for the long term (repeat business, solid referrals, etc.).
Save early. Save often.
What are examples of a robust computer?
Also 2hat computer do you recommend? Laptop or desktop or both?
Stop! Don't do anything yet. The above posts offer great advice, exactly what I would say and here's some more .2¢:
I would need to know what city you are in and the rental resources to know the viability of renting vs owning, but you can also rent from private owners, which is my first choice because the gear is treated better and the pick up/drop off hours are more convenient, but...
I can't address the post gear however, I often advise clients and newbies as to production gear. First off, do you presently have a van or large SUV to transport? As to your list, the only usable item I saw for a start up was the Rode. As mentioned the Kinos are overkill. They are very useful when you need an even flat light over a wider area such as doing green screen but otherwise are expensive for what they do plus they take up a LOT of cubic inches once in their cases, which relates to the issue of the vehicle. The most important thing I can impress upon you is that you need to have a client base that desires the particular package you plan to put together BEFORE you buy the gear. There is no such thing as "Build it and they will come" in the vid biz. I have been freelance for 35 years and have seen many dozens of prod cos large and small go under. So...the purchase of gear that is not consistently billable plus fixed expenses such as office rental, insurance payments, etc. will drag you under when there is a cash flow crunch.
If I have not yet convinced you that buying gear is not wise during the start up process, then continue reading. IF you have the money and gear addiction that compels you to own, the first rule to consider is: Is what I am buying going to be cheaper to own than renting? Most likely not. Certain items are, the ones that last forever, which is most everything besides camera bodies. I advise young wannabe DPs to put their money in a high quality tripod, lights, monitor and audio after having the bedrock, which is the vehicle. Rent cameras and lenses because they are changing so fast they often don't pay for themselves before the next new thing comes along. Since you propose producing biopix and corp comm, what you really need is what I call a "Talking Heads & The Usual B-Roll Kit".
We don't know anything about your background, if you have a client base, perhaps this $9K is a graduation present? etc...but when you say "start up", that's a very dangerous thing because right now I wouldn't suggest anyone enter the biz now. We have had such growth in video, the graph looks like a hockey stick, but us older folks have niches and client bases, the newbies are suffering unless they grab a good client. Right now the prices for video are rock bottom, it's a buyer's market. It's gotten to be a commodity and there's crowd sourcing- a race to the bottom in terms of competitive bidding to the point no one can charge a premium. Any chimp that is somewhat technical and creative can now do video. So you're starting in a biz that would be rejected in any MBA class doing an exercise as to as to what hot industry to get into.
So in sum, use that $ for marketing, establishing a solid, consistent, client base. Do a REAL business plan that has no delusions, keep a lot of money in reserve. Murphy's Law is the one constant. Hope is not a strategy. That $9K gear list...real red flag, unless that was just for gear and there's another $20-$30 for the rest? Gear is meaningless without the paying clients.
in my opinion, its best to get a credit from any financial institution and keep your money for business operations.
While all these are great ideas that you should seriously listen to, my thoughts were more along the line of Francis above. I have taken to getting low cost leasing, from Canon, to lease my cameras (C100 for example). This, along with the monthly Adobe licensing, is a way to keep the money in your pocket for other uses, like marketing, and smaller disposables. Credit might work, but is very expensive, unless you have immediate work and can pay down the credit charges quickly.
We have no idea what type of business you are thinking of getting into with video, but let me tell you from some experience earlier in my life, under capitalized small businesses are the number one reason that they fail. You aren't even half way to what you likely will spend. How do I know? Because I got back into it in 2010 and I had to spend much more than you are, just to get the *right* equipment. (a couple of matched cameras for live perfomances and docs work, a set of battery driven lights I could work with,a full complement of lenses needed, etc.). I live far away from any rental centers, so it's almost impossible to rent cost effectively.
You also didn't mention whether you anticipate that the $9k is for actually running the business or just what you have budgeted for equipment. Let's assume that you have some kind of clients or money to fall back on for living expenses while you start up, and the 9k is just for gear. Stretch that budget! Buy used, question every purchase. Will it really get you more work? And yes, Kinos are great, but there are a lot of nice cheaper lights out there. I've found that my most used lighting is 1x1s from Light Panels. But that's me. And what happens when the $9k is gone?
So if you want more advice than what we have given you, it might help to explain why you feel you need this stuff, and what kind of work you intend to do with it.
[Al Bergstein] "I have taken to getting low cost leasing, from Canon, to lease my cameras (C100 for example)."
We do, too.
I normally not a big fan of leasing much of anything (except we do lease our vehicles, which makes sense for tax and depreciation reasons). However we do lease our primary camera.
When I was about to pull trigger and buy a C300 almost two years ago, Canon had a 24-month lease deal, with the payments totaling exactly what the purchase price would be (with a $1 buyout at the end). Since that was basically free money, the equivalent of a 0% loan, we did that (and woohoo in a couple of months it will be paid off). There was no compelling reason not to lease it instead of buy it.
Canon doesn't always have deals like that going, but they often do.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Only slightly tangential to the topic, and I promise to bring it back around.
"I live far away from any rental centers, so it's almost impossible to rent cost effectively."
Whenever I hear this concern by someone wanting to do production, it always makes me wonder if maybe that person could *become* the local rental person and serve a small but loyal user base. And thus become the nexus for the local production community, the "connector" that makes it possible for a production community to grow and expand. You know, in the California Gold Rush of 1849, generally, the guys making the big money were NOT the ones digging the gold or panning it out of the rivers. Oh, a few did. But... It was the store owners and shop keepers selling the mining SUPPLIES and associated gear that got rich.
Now back to the thread, but you can guess what comes next...
9 grand is not a lot of money to set up a production company. It might be the start of enough money to buy some key bits of kit that most producers would rather rent than own, however. Like a slider, dolly, or jib, extra lights and a quiet generator or battery bank. Or P2/ SDHC cards, readers, and external drive arrays for storage and transfer... VERY useful! Or TelePrompTers or ear prompters. Grip gear like scrims, butterflies, etc. Rentable cameras or specialty mounting devices. A process trailer for car driving shots. Or a respectable green screen space... whatever the film makers in your area want most, and can't afford to buy, just for one gig.
I would suggest you poll as many people in your local production circle as possible, see what they all need in common, go buy that stuff, (and buy a spare because customers have to depend on gear being available as contracted for), and start renting it out. Typical rule of thumb for pricing is ten rentals should be enough to buy the item. You also will be discounting for multiple days, and usually a cheaper weekend rate. I used to offer a super-cheap 3-day weekend, with either Monday of Friday as the "free" day for the rental, because a lot of low-budget productions can only afford to get actors and crew on weekends. Get insurance for everything.
The more you facilitate local productions, the more business they generate, creating a positive feedback loop. That, plus, you become the nexus of all the local production chatter and socializing, which brings in intelligence about who might need what next. You get to meet all the local talent and the people that HIRE that talent. You can make money off this kind of intelligence. The internet hasn't made this area quite obsolete yet: in fact, you might leverage the power of the net to make it easier to book rentals, and to promote using your gear to encourage more garage-based auteurs to up their game.
"Producers" these days are a dime a dozen. Don't you rather want to be the guy that's handing out the dimes?