Gear Overload

My first of three large B&H wishlists

My first of three large B&H wishlists

Do You Have This Problem?

You spend a little too much time reading about new gear, watching Youtube reviews and unboxings, and creating a massive wishlist on B&H?

It's a great time to be a filmmaker. So much gear at great prices but product cycles are moving at a blistering rate (except for the Canon cinema line). Every few months there are a few new cameras released with even better features than the last batch which lead to more gear envy.

The next thing you know you own several cameras and more gear than can fit in your car for a shoot. So when is all this gear too much and what do you do about it?

The Solution?

I doubt I have a solution to this problem. The reality is I'm going to keep reading blogs and keep buying gear, but I'm trying to develop a strategy around my purchase decisions that make sense for my business.

My first step is to take a serious inventory of the equipment I have and try to make some decisions about what equipment I can offload for sale. Do I really need to own a Canon 5D Mark III, GH4, C100 Mark II, and Ursa Mini Pro? Do I own any lights or grip gear that I don't utilize any more? There won't be a fire sale but there are definitely some items that I could sell for some extra cash for reinvesting into new, needed equipment. For now, I've created a spreadsheet with all my gear and I'm charting it's frequency of use. This should help me decide relatively quick what equipment is just gathering dust and what is essential.

My second step is to assess the needs of my company based on the work I'm currently doing and what I project the rest of this years jobs to look like. I've moved away from doing small business work and I'm now taking on bigger commercial and corporate jobs that are larger in scope and budget.

After assessing what I currently have, I've decided that my best investment would be in newer lighting technology and more grip gear. I have a small lighting package consisting of some of the older Aputure LED panels and some older tungsten hard lights. As I move into these larger commercial shoots I'm aware that I need larger sources and more powerful sources of light as well as more options to shape that light.

(As an aside, you may be in a market where you have access to rental houses and you may find that renting, rather than owning, is a better solution for you. Unfortunately, although I am in NY, I am upstate, 90 minutes from NYC. With daily work, renting isn't a possibility for me except for the really large jobs. So instead, I'm choosing to build my own a full service package.)

My third step is to create a buying strategy that consists of smaller monthly expenditures, rather than one big spending spree before the end of the year. Spreading my purchases out ensures that I buy wisely and I can keep an eye on my accounting as opposed to my old method which was - it's the end of the year and I need to spend X amount of money so I don't get killed with taxes. That method led me getting boxed into some unwise purchases.

I'm currently budgeting $500 a month for gear expenditures which is a very moderate amount but should keep me honest on not overspending on every drool worthy piece of gear the internet throws at me.

Roughly one third of the total amount of gear I own - this is the minimum amount of gear I bring on a shoot.

Roughly one third of the total amount of gear I own - this is the minimum amount of gear I bring on a shoot.

Shotgun

Shotgun

My final step is to create a 5 year plan for spending. This is the hardest step as it's quite difficult to predict what the film and lighting technology will be like in 5 years (especially considering RED announced a hologram phone yesterday). Instead, I'm planning for the type of work and the scale of that work I think I will be doing in 5 years. While I load up my 2009 Subaru Forester until I can't see out the rear-view mirror (and if I get in an accident I will probably be impaled by a C-stand) I can certainly see some type of gear truck in my future in order to have all the necessary equipment to roll out to these larger jobs. 

Have a better solution for overcoming gear addiction? Share it in the comments below.