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#1 Jared T Smith

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 09:17 AM

Can someone tell me what all of the jobs at a camera rental house are?
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#2 Michele Peterson

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Posted 24 September 2009 - 11:55 PM

Can someone tell me what all of the jobs at a camera rental house are?


Most rental houses have the rental agents (they are in the office part, take the orders, help you figure out what you need/want, handle insurance documents, and billing), the floor staff (that pull the orders check-in and out the gear making sure it is not damage, all parts are there etc), some rental houses have techs that do repairs/service.

Some also have interns. If you have any basic knowledge of gear, there isn't much reason to intern for free. Some houses, like panavision offer both paid training programs and unpaid internships. Most people work at rental houses to learn gear better, so you don't have to know everything to start out as an entry level floor person. You'll start off cleaning cases anyway, unless you already have experience.
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#3 Josiah Staggers

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 09:13 AM

To those that have started out working in a rental house what kind of experience did you have before you got hired. Also does anyone know of any current openings at any rental house around the US.

Thanks
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#4 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 25 September 2009 - 11:32 AM

I worked at Arri CSC in 2006 when I first came to New York. Apart from 2nding on a low-budget HD feature, I had no prior professional industry experience, just the work I'd done in school as an AC and cam op, which was apparently good enough for them. To say the least, the hiring standards for rental houses are different in New York than they are in LA. I worked alongside people who didn't know anything about cameras and were completely unfamiliar with the film biz and just needed a day job...of course, there's nothing wrong with this and CSC can hire homeless people off the street for all I care, I'm just saying, it was an interesting experience!

We got paid $8 an hour, which is pretty typical day rate at a job like that. Sometimes we got a lot of overtime, and sometimes we'd get sent home early because it was so slow. Quite a few of the people I worked with went on to be union loaders, although a couple of them got involved with post, and one actually moved up within the company. Our prior experiences were pretty much all across the board...at the end of the day, we were all doing the same stuff.

I would expect to be scrubbing cases regardless of how experienced you are when you walk in there. It's A LOT of manual labor...all day. If it's not that busy, maybe someone will put up a camera or you'll have a chance to look at the gear and ask questions, but for the most part, you're there to help the AC's who come in and to keep things flowing.

I have mixed feelings about my experience at CSC and pretty much always will. I feel like I should've either stayed there longer, or left sooner, either way. I had a lot on my plate back then...I moved to New York to take that job...it was a hell of a risk and I made many sacrifices to pull it off. I stayed with friends for 3 months, which meant leaving my cat with my parents and only taking a single duffel bag with me... and when I finally got my own place, I had to live way up in the Bronx, 45 minutes by train from Columbus Circle/Midtown. I had to live with 2, sometimes 3 other people just to be able to afford rent, since I was barely clearing $800 a month. And it was so much work...my arms, back, and shoulders hurt all the time! In many ways, it was definitely baptism by fire. In many other ways, it did not pan out the way I thought it would, which is a disappointment that it took me 3 years to come to terms with. Some of the people there are really nice and are still people who I consider to be friends and mentors. Others were a**holes. I probably did not always have the best attitude...maybe I wasn't ready for a job like that yet. And that's the way it goes at pretty much any job, no matter what. Having worked there does carry a bit of a prestige, which I can appreciate, and it did teach me the gear really well. I will add that most rental houses are really not looking for people who already know, or say they know, what they're doing, which I think was part of my problem :rolleyes: . If you show up and that's your attitude, they won't know what to do with you.

As far as who's hiring right now, I would venture to say, NO ONE. And I'm not saying that to burst your bubble, I'm just saying it because of how f*cked the economy is right now. I did see a posting on Mandy for rental techs at a lighting and grip house in New York, but that's about it. I'm not sure which one.
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#5 Jared T Smith

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 10:16 AM

Helpful info guys, thanks a lot.
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#6 Tom Jensen

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 10:46 AM

Helpful info guys, thanks a lot.


I started at a place called Armistead Camera with Dave Swett and Ken Stone. Dave was fresh out of film school and Ken had already been a machinist for a long time. Dave and I left there and went to work for Otto Nemenz. Having more experience, Dave became a prep technician and I got to start as a driver/case cleaner. I then moved up to check in where the equipment was returned. That's where I learned the name of everything and got to meet all the drivers. I got to hear a lot of production stories in that position. I then moved up to prep tech where I learned to prepare camera packages, service equipment and I got to meet all the assistants. This is a very important job because it teaches you how the camera works, how the equipment goes together, and how to fix broken gear. This knowledge will make you a very valuable assistant. A rental tech will either be a great assistant or a terrible assistant. It really depends on how well you adapt because being on a set is a lot different than working at a rental house. It is another world. The key thing to remember is that when you are on a set, you are an assistant and not a repair technician. It's great to be able to fix things but you are now an assistant and not a repair technician. It is often better to sent the gear back than it is to try to fix it. Sometimes, you have to. I was in Fiji on a job and the gear head broke. A couple of grips from Austrailia, Dave Cross and Majic Mark Hennesey rebuilt the gear head on the spot but we knew what were were doing and it would have taken weeks to get a new geared head. If you take apart something and cannot fix it, you are a goat. It is better to leave the responsibility on the camera rental facility. Sometimes. You also take time away from your job to fix something.

Then there are rental agents that deal directly with the client. These people will never be assistants. Some prep techs move up bu these people are often hired with some experience. Prep techs who stay with rental houses often move up to positions where they are trained in depth to repair cameras, lenses or do electronic work. These positions pay pretty well because they require expertise and training. The company doesn't want to train you and have you leave for a competitor. Then there are accounting positions which is a non industry specialist.
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