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Faulty equipment - Whos is to blame if footage is unuseable?


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#1 grantsmith

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 04:23 AM

Hello,

In the case of there being faulty equipment hired out on a shoot causing the shoot to be ruined - who is at fault, and what can be done to resolve the situation?

For example, there is a camera fault which is not noticed until the rushes are viewed.

Is it the rental company, if so what can the production company do?

Is it the production companies responsability to make sufficient checks?

Is it individual crew members? What if the production did not allow time for tests to be made?

I've always been interested to know what would happen if something like this occured?

Thanks
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#2 Stephen Williams

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 05:39 AM

Hello,

In the case of there being faulty equipment hired out on a shoot causing the shoot to be ruined - who is at fault, and what can be done to resolve the situation?

For example, there is a camera fault which is not noticed until the rushes are viewed.

Is it the rental company, if so what can the production company do?

Is it the production companies responsability to make sufficient checks?

Is it individual crew members? What if the production did not allow time for tests to be made?

I've always been interested to know what would happen if something like this occured?

Thanks


Hi,

1) Production pust pay for an assistant to visually check the equipment.

2) When the assistant is happy with camera body, lens & mags, all the mags must be scratch tested and the camera & lenses film tested. Steady tests should be carried out at all speeds to be used.

3) The production company should take out insurance, the insurance company will want to see the tests in the event of a claim

So if the production company wants to save money on tests and not have insurance then they are stuffed IMHO.

FWIW it's quite rare to have a serious problem, but it can happen.

Stephen
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#3 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 05:42 AM

That's the reason you have production insurances and completion bonds and such, so that when catastrophic stuff like that happen, you're insured against it.

For instance, if the lab ruins your roll of film, all they'll do is replace it with a new roll of Kodak, no matter what's on it, and so on.
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 01:31 PM

Hi,

I was fired from a production earlier this year because the equipment wasn't up to scratch. It was enormously late arriving, so I had no time to check it, and repeatedly made it clear that there were major problems; nevertheless, being a small-time, replaceable nobody makes you a prime target for blame offload.

Beware.

Phil
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#5 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 01:59 PM

This is why first ACs spend so many hours at the rental houses teching their packages. If there is a problem its should be the responsibility of the person who tecks the package to find it and fix it.

Its my experience there are frequently issues with an order, usually small, but its certainly not uncommon for the wrong gear to be packed, or for there to be something missing or for something to not work properly specifically electronics.
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#6 Aaron Medick

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 02:13 PM

All that has been writen above is true. 99.9% of producers will pay for an AC to do a check out. If they do and the gear is bad, it's the AC ass. Unless the DP goes to bat for the AC saying it is a rental house?s problem because there is no way to test for the issue at hand.

If the lab calls in problem, it is usually the DP that takes the guff because he/she is the head of the department and is still on for post.

That said truth is that 99.9% of the time some one is fired from the camera department, usually an AC. It doesn't matter who is at fault, read or watch Coppola talk about firing people off sets just to deflect attention from himself.( I think is is Heart of darkness, anyone?)

So a word to the wise, don't work above your knowledge level. It could cost you a days pay and years of other jobs that could have been are gone as well. All we have is our reputation.
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#7 Dominic Case

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 05:43 PM

Check, check, check.
Test, test, test.
Insure.

Neither the rental company, the stock manufacturer or the lab - or individuals - can, or should, accept liability for reshoots due to errors that get past the checks and tests.

Replacing the stock, extending the rental etc are straightforward, if there is a proveable error. But the cost of the shoot (and therefore the reshoot) is beyond the control of the provider, so they can't cover it. After all, the camera and stock cost the same whether you are shooting pickups or an exploding helicopter.

So that's where insurance comes in. And insurers will demand tests and checks. So the production has to allow for them in time and budget.

Not insuring is also known as "self-insuring". The production company that doesn't lay off the risk is, by definition, accepting the risk itself. Same as under-insuring (or not insuring) your equipment, or house, or anything else.
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#8 Joe Cooper

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 09:38 PM

Hello,

In the case of there being faulty equipment hired out on a shoot causing the shoot to be ruined - who is at fault, and what can be done to resolve the situation?

For example, there is a camera fault which is not noticed until the rushes are viewed.

Is it the rental company, if so what can the production company do?

Is it the production companies responsability to make sufficient checks?

Is it individual crew members? What if the production did not allow time for tests to be made?

I've always been interested to know what would happen if something like this occured?

Thanks


The AC is solely responsible for making sure the camera is functioning properly. End of story.

AC's generally charge a full day to check out a camera package, and if production is too cheap to pay for a proper camera checkout, the blame will probably fall on the DP if there's a problem. As DP, you have to insist that the camera package get a proper checkout, AND you have to insist that you have an experienced FIRST AC running the camera on shoot days.

I work on a lot of low budget projects and have been burned and narrowly escaped being burned because of corners that were cut in regard to hiring an AC or camera tech. NEVER AGAIN.

Of course, even a full check out and a seemingly functional camera CAN have problems that inflict damage on footage that isn't discovered until after a shoot day. At that point I'd say the rental house, the AC, or the lab, OR even the manufacturer of the film stock could be to blame.

Edited by Joe Cooper, 15 October 2006 - 09:41 PM.

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#9 Drew Hoffman

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 01:16 AM

Blame tends to flow downstream. Eventually the person who is at fault will be found out (usually) but until then, if you're at the bottom of the totem pole, be prepared to answer a lot of questions and concerns. That's why it's so important to check your camera package top to bottom. Check every cable, every connection, every lens, every last little detail that you can check. Run scratch tests, run reg. tests. If you don't check it and it breaks down, you're in trouble. That's why you need to take careful notes regarding camera notes and stock inventory and keep a copy of them. It takes a certain degree of anal retentiveness to be a good AC and that's to help insure a successful production... but I think a certain degree of it is covering your back in case something goes wrong.
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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 07:02 AM

Hi,

> the blame will probably fall on the DP if there's a problem

Er... not... always.

In the UK we have a very advanced system for the passing-on of blame, and it's usually the most easily-replaceable person who gets it in the neck.

Remember, blame isn't about solving problems, it's about making it known that you've made enough noise about a problem so everyone knows how seriously you're taking it.

Garh.

Phil
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#11 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 12:04 PM

If the DP that does not insist on a qualified 1st AC testing and checking out the equipment it is the director's fault for hiring a DP that did not have the "weight" do insist on this.
It does happen that gear gets "bounced around" in cases by rental company personnel after checks and then it's the responsibility of the rental house.
Plus as Stephen rightly said: It is the productions responsibility to take out production insurance and budget for tests. Any other situation and it is a very risky situation.
Penny wise pound foolishness...
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#12 Dan Goulder

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 01:15 PM

Hello,

In the case of there being faulty equipment hired out on a shoot causing the shoot to be ruined - who is at fault, and what can be done to resolve the situation?

For example, there is a camera fault which is not noticed until the rushes are viewed.

Is it the rental company, if so what can the production company do?

If the equipment is hired out for a one or two day shoot, and the defect is found to be in the camera, then the rental house is obviously responsible. However, unless you (or the rental house) have specific insurance or contractual guarantees that cover all losses in such a situation, then the most you could realistically expect would be a refund of the rental fees.

If the DP that does not insist on a qualified 1st AC testing and checking out the equipment it is the director's fault for hiring a DP that did not have the "weight" do insist on this.

I disagree. With this chain of command, the director is not responsible for the actions of the 1st AC. You might as well blame the producer for hiring all of them.
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#13 Nathan Milford

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 03:23 PM

If the equipment is hired out for a one or two day shoot, and the defect is found to be in the camera, then the rental house is obviously responsible.


Almost all rental houses and private owners (G&E, Camera, Sound etc...) have clauses in their rental agreements that state that whether you checkout the equipment or not, if you leave the premesis with the equipment under contract you are liable for that equipment and party renting the equipment is not responsible for it's condition beyond that point. I.E. if you don't catch it when you do a proper checkout, even if those renting it to you should have, they are not liable for any damages done to your film because you signed the rental agreement. If you're lucky and you approach them correctly you can get them to give you a free rental of the same gear for the same amount of time as before, much like a lab would replace the stock, but not reimburse you for the production costs of the film.

There are always exceptional cases but the rental industry wouldn't be able to make a profit if they were tied up in mounds of court cases trying to sift through what was user error and equipment error. It's just the risk you take in renting. To not insure and not do a proper, thorough check-out of equipment is pure lunacy.
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#14 Dan Goulder

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 05:27 PM

Almost all rental houses and private owners (G&E, Camera, Sound etc...) have clauses in their rental agreements that state that whether you checkout the equipment or not, if you leave the premesis with the equipment under contract you are liable for that equipment and party renting the equipment is not responsible for it's condition beyond that point.

My point is that the rental company should be responsible for the condition of the equipment they rent. As for it being a legally binding responsibility, as you have pointed out, that could be another story... Unfortunately, if you're renting for a one or two day commercial shoot, you're probably not in a position to discover things such as registration problems, etc. until the shoot is over. The good news is that most reputable rental houses have built that reputation by dealing only with well maintained gear.
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