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How do you buy your first rig?


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#1 MegSchrock

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Posted 14 November 2004 - 12:35 AM

OK, I'm still confused. After talking to several steadicam operators on various films sets. I've gathered that it's important to go to the workshop. The workshop is, like, $2,200, I can conceivably come up with that amount... but how do I come up with the $66,000 it takes to buy a rig? I'm already super in debt with college loans... I just don't get how it's possible to buy your first rig. If someone could give me their history on how they financially became a steadicam operator I'd be really happy. Thanks guys!

-Meg
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#2 Bryan Trieb SOC

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Posted 14 November 2004 - 04:14 AM

Meg,
I'm sure that every steadicam owner/op will each have a different way they've acquired the funds with which to purchase all the expensive gear. The bottom line is....how badly do you want it? Are you willing to "do what it takes"...whatever that means to your case in particular...? There is no one way, nothing is guaranteed. Do you live for the hustle? Most of us do, and that is how we get the money...we hustle. Don't forget, not many steadicam owners are fresh out of school with big student loans. Most have worked in the biz for a while and have sessed out the way in which they shall execute.
Best of luck!
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#3 Richard W. Davis

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Posted 14 November 2004 - 10:36 AM

<< but how do I come up with the $66,000 it takes to buy a rig? -Meg>>



Well, as un-sexy as it is...You don't buy a top of the line rig fresh out of the gate. You buy used, old or not as high end...and as you get work and earn it, you upgrade. I started with a Model 1 steadicam(ser. # 26) and now fly a PRO II, with the best parts IMHO from almost every manufacturer, XCS, TIffen, Transvideo, MK-V etc... It's been a long but very satisfying road.

Best of Luck,

Rich Davis
LA
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#4 Brant S. Fagan SOC

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Posted 14 November 2004 - 07:19 PM

Meg--

Rich and I took the same Workshop way back when up in Maine and both chose to purchase used rigs and upgrade whenever and wherever possible.

Assuming that after your Workshop you wish to make a go of Steadicam, get what you can afford, and then practice, practice, practice. Repeat.

Buy only what you need to get started and let the work describe what you need to upgrade to as things progress.

More than one Workshop participant has shown up with the latest and greatest with serious goals for the week after the class. More often than not, people like this are unfortunately dissapointed and frustrated and now up against a financial brick wall.

Take a class and find out if this is really for you. It is more than just another toy--rather, Steadicam is a career and lifestyle choice that should not be rushed into.

Best,

Brant S. Fagan, SOC
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#5 paul magee

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Posted 15 November 2004 - 05:00 PM

Hey Meg,

There's an old saying that this is show business not show art. If you buy used or new
it has to make sense to your bottom line. If your going to put out your money you really should have a realistic business plan mapped out to insure your investment pays off or you at least have the cash to support your Steadicam habit until it becomes self sufficiant. What market is out there for you or will you try to create one for yourself? How many ops are in your area? Is there enough work to support all of them as well as you? What kind of time table have you mapped out ? Does it have measurable and achievable goals? What is your profit point?
What will your note payment be? At what APR ? What about insurance, marketing and upkeep?
I'm not writing to discourage you I just think everyone who enters into this field needs to walk into it with their eyes wide open. Talk to your accountant. If you don't have one invest a few bucks and sit down with one to set up a plan.

I and every other owner operator has a vested interest in everyone's sucess. Nothing makes the market worse than an owner operator who does not understand this business and end gets themselves into trouble. They starts giving away their package at terrible rates creating a free fall in the market price that producers are quick to jump on. When the bank starts putting real pressure on them they end up selling their rig at a reduced price to get out from underneath the note thus driving down the market value of our gear.

Owning this stuff is fun, I think everyone who puts on a vest is a bit of a gearhead and truly loves to tinker and play with the toys just make sure you can make it work for you.
Fixing your credit rating once it's shot is a seven year ordeal -


best of luck

Paul Magee
Philadelphia, PA
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#6 LeighWanstead

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Posted 15 November 2004 - 07:50 PM

Hi Paul,

Someone said that operating Steadicam needs years of practise and the skill is not easily learned. It is not just simply pay the money and buy the rig and shooting perfect steady footage tomorrow. Why are you worried that some inexperienced guy from your neighbour dragging your business? :D

Regards
Leigh
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#7 paul magee

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Posted 15 November 2004 - 11:03 PM

Hi Paul,

Someone said that operating Steadicam needs years of practise and the skill is not easily learned. It is not just simply pay the money and buy the rig and shooting perfect steady footage tomorrow. Why are you worried that some inexperienced guy from your neighbour dragging your business? :D

Regards
Leigh

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Leigh

I'm not worried, I have a number of different interests which support my business. I can afford
to say no to bad rates but that doesn't mean others in my market can. Here in the Philadelphia area there are twenty plus operators and I think there's room for more if you're smart about how to grow a niche to support yourself while you expand into the market.

My point is if you don't pay attention to the business end of things before you buy you might put yourself in serious trouble or waste the investment potential of your capital. This is a business and before you walk into a a ton of debt you should think about the ramifications when you sign a note. There are quite a few Former Steadicam owner operators out there with bad credit ratings because they were seduced by the salesman's pitch and took on notes they could not afford in markets that could not even support one Steadicam. Do you think they can get a mortgage or a low interest car loan today? The whole notion of " If I buy a rig the work will come is lunacy". I've talked to a number of people just starting out and my advise has alwys been the same - have a business plan! - Don't buy gear if it won't make you money. Having a Preston follow focus is nice but if you can't rent it would'nt you be better off with a Bartech and that extra cash in a different investment.

If you don't plan your planning to fail. If your willing to go to a workshop and then bust your ass
trying to get good at this why would'nt you take the time to figure out the business end of things
before you invest ? But if you got 60 k to blow do whatever the fuck you want to!


Paul Magee
Philadelphia, Pa
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#8 MegSchrock

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Posted 15 November 2004 - 11:12 PM

Hey,

Thanks guys, for all your thoughts. Accountant, maybe? Used rig, definitely. Jumping in head first when I'm still fresh-off-the-college-boat appears to be a bad time. But it sucks working at awful jobs knowing that I could be playing on a film set with the coolest toy ever invented.

My plan is to get the hell out of DC and move to New York because that is where art and business get married. It's a big market and it's probably difficult to get started there. When I get my rig, I'll probably spend everyday in my closet-of-an-apartment in Washington Heights or where ever tinkering and practicing and figuring out how to get the next gig and I'll do well because too I have a good attitude. So sometime next spring you New Yorkers should expect to see a fresh new steadicam op with a beat-up old rig wandering the streets and looking for a gig and then you can say to yourselves, "hey, that kid used to post on the steadicamforum!"

I'm sorry some of you guys don't seem to be having fun doing what you're doing. I can't imagine anything better!



Mr. Leigh,
Are you mocking me?
Because that hurts. Right about where my kidneys sit.
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#9 LeighWanstead

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 02:46 AM

Mr. Leigh,
Are you mocking me?
Because that hurts. Right about where my kidneys sit.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi Meg,

I am sorry that what I said hurt you.

Regards
Leigh
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#10 LeighWanstead

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 02:53 AM

Dear Paul,

You are really nice guy.:)

Regards
Leigh
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#11 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 05:58 AM

Jumping in head first when I'm still fresh-off-the-college-boat appears to be a bad time. But it sucks working at awful jobs knowing that I could be playing on a film set with the coolest toy ever invented.


Meg,

If you're fresh out of college then why dont you take some time working as an assistant before you splash out on a rig? Working as an assistant in the camera department will help you be a better operator in so many ways, and you'll make some money to invest in a workshop or in kit. As an assistant, if you have your eyes and ears open, you can learn about set politics, learn about gear, learn about working with a DP, with a director, with a first ac. You'll make contacts. If you buy a rig now, be it used or brand new, you will find it really difficult to walk on to a set in 6 months or a years time and have the confidence of the crew. Dont get me wrong not everyone has worked through the ranks, but personally i just think its making life really difficult for yourself if you've no previous experience walking onto a set. Hope this helps, :)
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#12 jay kilroy

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 09:51 PM

Here we go again!
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#13 RobVanGelder

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Posted 16 November 2004 - 11:09 PM

Hey,

Jumping in head first when I'm still fresh-off-the-college-boat appears to be a bad time. But it sucks working at awful jobs knowing that I could be playing on a film set with the coolest toy ever invented.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Ah, name me one other profession, in any field, where you can do that or are allowed to do that!

:blink:

Most of the given advice is very true, but if you and some others want to dive in blind-folded, head first, go for it!

Prove us wrong!
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#14 David Allen Grove

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Posted 17 November 2004 - 02:48 AM

:lol: I took out an SBA loan back in 94' for my steadicam.
I was completely debt free when I did it though and had a fairly good paying job at a PBS station...

You might want to check this out...

http://www.sba.gov/financing/

Edit: I forgot to add that I didn't need a co-signer on the SBA loan. Cinema Products had a "Buy Back" program in case of default.

I bought my system brand spankin' new and it only took me 7 years to pay it off. GUUUUULP.

On a side note: I used my new WK Traditional Deluxe Vest for the first time on a job today. That thing is like a lazy boy recliner!!! One of my spotters kept asking.. "Do you want to dock?" I said "No.. I don't think I need to but thanks for asking" It's like Viagra for Steadicam operators!!! (Not that I need or have ever used viagra you understand.. :lol: )
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#15 sebastian matthias

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Posted 17 November 2004 - 08:32 AM

hey meg

it took me about a year,to get the gut´s to ask my PARENTS to vouch for me at my bank with their life insurance. Now i´m a slave of that bank for the next couple of years,working my ass off to pay back that loan.
that´s how bad you need to want it,ifyou want to go into this expensive hobby.but i love it anyway.

good luck,and do your self a favour and invest your money into a workshop ,to find out if that is what you really want to do.

all the best


sebastian
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