As a freelance cameraman working on varied productions, you need to be sure you always have the right kit for the job. Acquiring the latest equipment is a necessity, not a luxury; the difficulty is being certain you will be able to manage the cost. How can a freelancer be sure he can finance his equipment?
First, before discussing the financing options, there are important preliminary points to consider to put you in the strongest position possible for financing your equipment:
- Financial stability: Does your freelance work allow you to maintain an appropriate level of financial stability to cover the cost of new equipment?
- Cash flow: Will you need to accept non-industry related work to maintain cash flow during quieter times? If so, do you have connections that will bring in that other work?
- Business plan: Do you have a business plan that shows how you plan to progress within the industry and the steps you will take to achieve it?
- Risk assessment: Have you assessed the implications of financing your equipment and prepared a budget for making payments if you take out finance? If you are considering a business loan, be brutally honest about how you will repay the loan over a long term.
There are four types of finance available to freelancers: family and friends, bank loans, asset finance and crowdfunding.
- Family and friends financing is probably the easiest and most flexible route, as the loan can often be arranged by discussion. There are, however, two points to keep in mind. First, be prepared for, and don’t be offended by, a “no”. Secondly, this is the most embarrassing form of borrowing if you can’t pay it back. Trust me, a family member is unlikely to let you forget about it until it is paid back – and often for long after.
- Bank loans were the traditional form of lending however, as widely reported in the press and as anyone who has tried will know, loans have almost completely dried up for small independent businesses and freelancers. Long gone are the days of personal service from managers who had an underwriting limit. Now banks almost always require additional security, making it difficult for start-ups and independents to get any affordable funding.
- Asset finance is often the best route for freelance cameramen seekingcamera finance. Several manufacturers run finance promotions; and a couple of specialist companies focus only on funding broadcast and photography freelancers and businesses. For example, up to September 30th, Azule is offering a Canon camera finance deal with 24 months at 0% interest. Azule says it is one of the fastest finance companies to turn deals around (including camera finance, no deposit) and that there are many no-nonsense deals to buy or hire equipment from top brands. Its finance people are not scared off by the seasonality of a cameraman’s business – a refreshing approach in these cautious days.
- Crowdfunding is the new kid on the block. Otherwise known as peer-to-peer lending,crowdfunding has proved to be a very useful way to obtain finance. Originally devised to fund films, it is available for equipment finance but the broadcast industry is not its strength. Crowdfunding is like an unsecured loan, and it can take time to put the finance in place, but it is a good third choice with the banks coming in last.
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