Free Equipment Rentals, Anyone?

Werner Herzog once said “If you want to do a film, steal a camera, steal raw stock, sneak into a lab and do it!” but in the era of digital filmmaking it can be even easier… and less dangerous! I think it’s fair to say every independent filmmaker, amateur or expert, has a few pieces of equipment outside of his/her budget, so I’m going to focus this post on a resource you may not have considered for your free filmmaking tools: Universities.

In the university media department where I work, there are several DSLR cameras and other HD video cameras one can rent for FREE several days at a time, as well as a host of other filmmaking equipment and a modest but well-equipped editing lab. Here’s just a sample of the equipment we loan out:

  • HD-DSLR Cameras
  • HD Video Cameras
  • Boom mic/pole & miles of XLR cables
  • Wireless mics
  • Tripods (fluid-head Manfrotto types)
  • Light kits
  • Bounce/reflectors
  • Extension cords!!!
  • USB Microphones
  • Headphones (not ear-buds)
  • Computer monitor calibration device & software

Additionally, our editing lab has the complete Adobe Production Suite and a padded audio booth – and you don’t have to sneak in, it’s open all afternoon. I should point out that this university is NOT a film school (although we have many film studies, multimedia, graphic design courses.) Of course, only students can borrow equipment, and I should note that your university may have certain policies restricting which students can borrow equipment and what it can be used for. If you attend even the smallest college, check with your technology, communications, or multimedia department to see if there’s a hidden media lab somewhere on your campus. Just because you don’t go to film school doesn’t mean your school can’t help you make films.

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