CAMERA AND LIGHTING HIRE COMPANY
Video Europe are a camera and lighting hire company based in the UK and have been supplying broadcast rental equipment since 1973.
They offer a bespoke, budget-driven service that is backed by years of experience, both on the technical and production side, within the business. They provide kit to all types productions from feature films to student projects.
WHAT TYPE OF KIT DOES A HIRE COMPANY SUCH AS YOURSELVES PROVIDE?
We provide lighting and cameras, from Go Pros up to Alexa Xts. We also provide all types of lenses: primes, zooms, EF and PL mount, anamorphics, matte boxes, dollies, follow focus units, and monitors. Whatever you would need for a complete shoot.
HOW SHOULD A YOUNG FILM-MAKER APPROACH A HIRE COMPANY FOR THE FIRST TIME? ARE YOU OPEN TO LETTING YOUNGER STUDENT FILM-MAKERS HIRE YOUR KIT?
Yes definitely. Being ex-freelancers ourselves, we think it’s important to nurture new talent. They need to build up a relationship with the hire company as at the end of the day the hire company is their security blanket. We’re a bespoke company and we like to deal with each individual independently to meet their needs. So that’s why it’s important that students come in and spend time with us to go through the kit. We can then advise them on what they could take.
HOW ABOUT INSURANCE?
Yes you will need insurance to cover hired in equipment. Most hire companies don’t provide insurance; it’s up to the individual to provide their own. We’ve have had customers before set up insurance through their own house insurance or you can go to a specialist film insurance broker easily enough. Insurance is very important as kit does get damaged or broken. So before the kit goes out the door, we do have to see a copy of the insurance letter.
HOW DOES YOUR COSTING SYSTEM WORK?
This is a difficult one. If someone is shooting from Monday to Sunday, we could offer what we call a four day week on that. That is where you have the kit for a week but only pay for four days. Dramas or longer running shoots normally have a three day week. It all goes back to the bespoke system that we like to create here. We do have a rate card for each piece of kit and it has it’s own price that we start from, but that is not a fixed amount. So it depends on what the job is and how long you are hiring for.
IF A STUDENT CAME TO YOU WITH A SMALL PROJECT, WHICH WASN’T FOR BROADCAST, COULD YOU HELP THEM BY DOING A DEAL ON PRICE?
Absolutely, but it’s all about your relationship with the hire company. We get young film-makers coming in to see us and they want all the top toys, but they’ve only got a £1000 budget. To hire the kit they want will cost a lot more than £1000, so we will sit with them and ask questions. Why the anamorphics? Why this particular camera? And half the time they can’t give us the answer, so we have guide them to possible alternatives. Let’s see what we can work out and offer to suit your budget. It’s not all about the camera. If you took a top DP, and gave them an old Z7 DV tape camera, they will go out and make those pictures look beautiful. Yes it is the glass and other bits of kit, but it’s not solely the equipment. You have to get in to a habit of learning to shoot with what equipment you’ve got.
WHAT HAPPENS IF SOME KIT IS DAMAGED OR BROKEN DURING A SHOOT?
It depends to what extent. If kit is missing, then this is why you have insurance. If it’s damaged, again, to what extent is the factor here. Firstly, we’d see if it can be repaired. We do have an issue with people taking responsibility for the equipment though. When I was young clapper loader, I had to be responsible. If I broke something, I had to stand up and say why and how, and the production company would then deal with it accordingly. These days, people aren’t held responsible for the equipment all the time. Sometimes we have kit that comes back through the door dirty, or with the kit not in the right boxes and it’s not good practice. It should come back better than when you took it out. If it doesn’t, we’re not going to be so keen to help you next time.
WOULD A HIRE COMPANY BE A GOOD PLACE TO START FOR A YOUNG FILM STUDENT?
Yes. I’ve been freelance for 25 years and I’ve been doing hire for the last 10; I’ve learnt more technically about cameras and equipment in the last 10 than I did in my freelance years. You have to have a knowledge but you’re out there to shoot pictures and if I had an issues in the field back then, I’d phone the hire company and my contact there would sort it out. I think it’s definitely a good grounding and it will help you get a solid knowledge of a wide range of kit.
WHAT MISTAKES DO YOU SEE STUDENTS MAKING THAT ARE COMING UP IN YOUR FIELD? EITHER IN COMMUNICATIONS OR IN THEIR WORK.
We’ve had a couple of instances where students have sent me emails for kit and we’ve said “Look if you’re going to send us an email for kit, this is how it must be done, this is the terminology”. A lot don’t know the correct terminology because they don’t know it all yet but by doing a little bit of reading and research goes a long way. Communication is a big thing for us. As I mentioned earlier, another mistake is the the equipment going out a certain way and coming back looking like it was hit by a hurricane. Nothing is in the right place, stuff squashed in boxes ... If it’s the first time you’ve used the kit, when you open the box, take a photo so you can see how it goes back in the box.
HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED IN THE LAST TEN YEARS AND HOW HAS THIS IMPACTED ON YOUR WORK?
The introduction of the Canon 5D changed things a lot. Not in a bad way but we have had a few young people walk in here straight out of university and they tell us they’re a DP just because they shot their cousin’s wedding. I think you have to earn that title and work for it. The cost of a 5D and lenses are so cheap and you can be set up and running very quickly today, but 30 years ago you had to work your way though it. I’m not saying modern stuff is not good but sometimes youngsters aren’t getting the proper training.
WHAT WAS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
Well, it’s not really advice, but the DP that I trained under used to say “The day you think you know everything in this business, it’s time to pack your bags and leave”.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE?
Get better at your time keeping. If someone sets an appointment with us for 10am, be here for 10. Don’t stroll in at twenty past ten and say the traffic was bad. Traffic is always bad. Leave home earlier! For me, that’s a key thing on a set too. Be there 45 minutes early!
WHAT WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE BLUNDER?
I was teaching students how to handle and take care of kit once and when I put the camera down, it fell off the table! I only just managed to stick my foot out and catch it. That is the only time in my whole career that I have ever dropped anything, whether that’s luck or good fortune.