Guest article: Equipment finance: Buy or hire your way to red carpet success

Equipment finance

Production set 1
Stand by on set: picking the right equipment can make or break a production, says Azule Finance’s Peter Savage.

In this guest article, Peter Savage, CEO of Azule Finance, weighs up the pros and cons of renting, financing and buying equipment for that make or break project.

Picture the scene. You’ve just taken a call from Britain’s hottest producer offering you a chance to be part of his latest independent production for the BBC. It’s a six month pilot project paying serious cash, not to mention the industry recognition you’ve worked so hard to get. It’s your ticket to next year’s BAFTAs.

But your kit really isn’t up to scratch.

And typically, you haven’t got any cash in the bank to replace it. How on earth are you going to come up with the goods to be ready when production starts in two weeks’ time? Beg, borrow, or steal?

Thankfully there’s no need…

When it comes to having the latest kit, you have two options: hire or buy. Each obviously has its own benefit, but as a freelancer you’d be wise to weigh up both options when you have a healthy pipeline of projects. Let’s take some time to consider both.

Avoid the Format Wars

Big brands spend millions in the battle to become the de-facto standard in technology and supporting formats. As we’re all acutely aware, it’s a tough, cut-throat industry out there with big winners and losers. The fight between Sony and JVC back in the 80s is just one of many. Both brands invested millions in marketing the consumer format. But with the wrong route to market, the arguably better technology and format lost out in the fight for supremacy. While JVC’s VHS became the de facto format winning the prized consumer market, the better format actually won the professional war.

As a freelancer, spending thousands on a new technology format could make or break you. In the past seven or eight years alone, there have been around 20 different formats and production types. Imagine if you bought one of each. Not only would you be broke, you’d have room full of completely useless kit. In fact we strongly advise against becoming an early adopter. Leave it to the hire companies to invest in new formats; let them take the risk and work with them to make sure you have access to the latest of what you need to keep that pipeline flowing.

Don’t get embroiled in format wars. You’ll never win.