Brick and mortar rental houses have been a staple of filmmaking since the early days. However, they're often expensive, inconveniently located and limited in terms of their hours. They also require you to purchase third-party insurance, which can make small budgets seem even smaller and can take days or even weeks to go into effect. Then there's the option of renting directly from local equipment owners. Although this can be a cost effective way to go, it's a risky business renting equipment from strangers, especially if the equipment is not insured in some way. If that equipment fails on you or is damaged, you could find yourself in an ugly legal quagmire. However, a new startup called ShareGrid is looking to alleviate all of those concerns with its revolutionary new platform.
What is ShareGrid, you ask? In short, it's a peer-to-peer rental marketplace where photographers and filmmakers can securely rent equipment to and from one another. And the best part is that all renters are verified by ShareGrid and all orders are insured, which removes much the risk of renting to strangers.
Here's the first promo video for ShareGrid, which was produced for less than $1000 by ShareGrid members using equipment that is currently available to rent on the system.
For most people, the biggest concern with peer-to-peer services like Airbnb is that they're not comfortable renting to strangers. And like I mentioned before, when you're renting from someone local and things go sour -- broken equipment, contractual disputes, etc. -- you can find yourself in the middle of a court battle or something similar. In order to allay these concerns, the founders of ShareGrid designed their service to put equipment owners in complete control of the entire rental process.
Our community is currently private and every member is screened and verified (we require government-issued IDs). Every member also has a profile which displays their ratings and reviews from past rentals. The owner is always in control. They can always deny a renter’s request for any reason. Additionally, like all rental houses, we require renters to purchase insurance, but we make it very affordable and easy to do so.
The insurance aspect is what really sets ShareGrid apart from traditional and online rental houses. Normally the process to insure a production rental is somewhat convoluted and inefficient because it requires the you, the filmmaker renting the equipment, to act as a middleman between the insurance provider and the rental house, which can sometimes lead to days or even weeks of telephone tag and faxes/emails between you and both parties. In the words of that one lady who's now internet famous, "Ain't nobody got time for that."
ShareGrid, on the other hand, makes the insurance process simple and painless by allowing you to purchase a wide range of production insurance options directly through their site. During the process of renting equipment, you're presented with the ability to insure your rental in the following ways:
- Damage Waiver: Any gear valued under 5K, renters can cover it using our damage waiver, which is our most affordable option at $5 - $25 a day.
- Short-Term Insurance: Covers any size rental above 5K at a competitive price using Athos Insurance.
- Annual Insurance: This is one of our best options. The annual coverage covers any rentals on the ShareGrid system as well as outside of ShareGrid. Additionally, it gives you the option to cover your own personal gear for the entire year. This option starts at $425/year but its benefits are well worth it.
- 3rd Party Insurance: If you already have annual insurance or have purchased short-term insurance from other companies, we welcome you as well. On our site you can upload third party insurance in order to cover your ShareGrid rental.
So, why would you choose ShareGrid over an established brick and mortar rental house or one of the many online rental houses that have sprung up in recent years? Well, for starters, if you're heavily invested in filmmaking or photography equipment and you'd like to leverage that equipment to generate extra income when you're not using it, ShareGrid provides a unique and risk-free platform that enables you to do just that. We all know that freelance filmmaking can be a difficult way to earn a living, and renting out your equipment could help you diversify and steady your income.
If you're a renter, you can find locally owned gear that is available to rent at prices that are likely cheaper than what you would find at a traditional rental house. Add to that the fact that you don't have to take unnecessary risks by renting without insurance. Last but not least, there's definitely a community aspect to ShareGrid that will only grow stronger as the company expands to new markets and grows its user-base. When fully implemented, ShareGrid will definitely be a viable way not only to rent equipment locally, but to meet and form relationships with local filmmakers.
Currently, ShareGrid is in a private beta in the Los Angeles market, but they're expected to open publicly early this year. I'm not sure when they're planning to expand to new markets, but based on the success of their limited beta, I can't imagine it will be too long.
If you have any questions for the folks behind ShareGrid, leave them down in the comments!