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Expensive Camera Carts - Worth the Money?

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I've been on many shoots that used Camera carts, but not owning one, most of the time the production just rented one for me.

 

I'm about to make a decision - buy a camera cart for my AC gigs or just keep on letting productions rent one.

 

The way I see about the carts are that you probably will never make money off of it. Yes it's nice to have one, but there are too many rental houses that rent out carts for dirt cheap... and as a owner/operator, I probably will never get the money you invested (perhaps in a very long run.)

 

Owning a piece of gear has got to be a business choice, so from a business stand point when I know I cannot beat the rental company's prices, should I own one and underbid them by biting the bullet, or save the money for something else? What are your thoughts?

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Ideally it's not as though a cart will go out of date so it's a long term investment. But in truth; making money isn't the reason; it's generally just good to have to make work and moving cameras easier, allowing you to work faster and not break your back as much moving a full camera package around or making multiple trips. Plus it's a tax deduction (depriciable as well if you'd like) to change your tax burden for the year, aside from a revenue generator for well basically forever.

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I charge $35/day for my cart, so three days of rental is a little more than $100. Rent it for 30 days and that's $1000. And it's been working for the last 7 years. Sure, there have been many jobs where the production did not have budget to rent my cart and I brought it anyway because it made my life easier. Even so, it's paid for itself many times over. It's probably one of the first investments you should make as an AC, well worth it. Of course, you need a car to transport it in first, unless you work in NYC and can park your cart at one of the big rental houses.

 

I have a Filmtools Senior cart with the big wheels, tripod hooks, and Mitchell plate. You can always start with the base model and buy accessories as they become needed. Breaks down in less than 2 minutes. The Yeager Junior/Senior is the sweetest cart, but you need a vehicle that you can load it into without breaking down to move quickly. That's tricky if you're going to be working out of your car and not a camera truck. Otherwise, it's a 10min breakdown with tools and loose pieces. One AC that I know loads his Yeager Junior into his SUV sideways and puts bags and cases inside the hole. I've only tried the Innovative carts a few times, they were ok.

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Speaking of these carts from Filmtools or Yaeger; does anybody know of any New York/Northeast options to buy such carts and accessories if we are looking to buy/pick up in-person to avoid shipping costs?

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In NYC, maybe B&H? I don't recall seeing any carts on the floor last time I was there in October but could be they have some stashed away in the back. Or call Backstage/Filmtools/Magliner/Yeager/Innovativ and ask who their east coast resellers are. Most of the Filmtools cart AKS is actually made by Backstage. Hopefully some of our NYC/Northeast peeps can chime in.

 

Oh, and you guys now have your own East Coast Cinegear right? That would be the perfect place to check all the brands out and maybe buy a floor model.

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Well, quite.

 

I think the point here is that nobody in the UK will ever, ever pay for things like carts. I'm not sure I've ever once been paid for equipment other than cameras. And these days, you don't even get paid for those.

 

P

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Apart from the rental cash, which admittedly won't be much and will only pay off in the long run, if it yours you can customise it. If you've a vehicle to roll it on and off, then your quality of life increases as there'll be less box lugging.

Most steadicam ops I know have theirs and usually just roll it on and off their vans with their kit all ready to go. My DIT station is the same, I've a bespoke one at my agency which I build during prep so that I can either work off a van when exteriors, or just roll off and bring it into the stage.

My point being, that if it saves time, then that also makes for a great investment. I don't know about the US, but here in the UK we're expected to give production thirty minutes either side of the working day for rig and de-rig. If you can do it faster... then that's time you're saving. :D

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In New York there is a company that carries the backstage products, not everything, but a decent selection and will order any of them for you. Its called CWIH. They're headquartered in Farmingdale on LI but have a store just off of 9th around 36th - but don't hold me to that location. Sometimes they have better options, I got foam filled tires for my senior cart for $6/ea. which is way better than anywhere else.

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Thanks Marque, it's only an hour drive from where I am, so I'll definitely give them a call and see what they have and what they charge. As of now I am thinking of buying a backstage-modified junior cart; I keep getting told it's a safer bet for working in NYC (because of small hallways, elevators, etc.).

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Thanks Marque, it's only an hour drive from where I am, so I'll definitely give them a call and see what they have and what they charge. As of now I am thinking of buying a backstage-modified junior cart; I keep getting told it's a safer bet for working in NYC (because of small hallways, elevators, etc.).

 

I'm going to a Junior. Even down here in Florida we shoot in so many houses for commercials that dealing with a large cart inside is really difficult. Most people with 04's or Yaegers have a Junior or Rubbermaid to bring in the locations.

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I ended up getting a Inovativ's Scout 37. Cart itself is $3k, plus camera mounting accessory I want to buy, plus a tripod hook will probably cost me another $1k, but I'm hoping it will last me very long time.

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Speaking of these carts from Filmtools or Yaeger; does anybody know of any New York/Northeast options to buy such carts and accessories if we are looking to buy/pick up in-person to avoid shipping costs?

 

My cart is at CSC in Jersey and Im looking to sell. its been through a few battles but I love it to death but elevators and my cart dont agree with one another :/

 

Yeager Senior

trough

Mitchelll Base

RBQR base plate

Tripod hooks

travel posts

 

Im asking 1700 obo. 2,000 with the RBQR and base plate

 

if your interested drop me a line at justinleblanc49@outlook.com

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I'm a DIT and used a Backstage TR-04 for many years, but then transferred to an Inovativ this past year.
Yes. expensive. But very worth it. Wheels around like a dream.

A tiny bit tricky to tie down to a camera truck, but with that in mind, its always doable.

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