Indie filmmakers are always looking for ways to save and/or make money. One web site is helping them do both. ShareGrid is a peer-to-peer camera rental website where indie filmmakers can earn extra income by renting out their gear to other local filmmakers. Of course, filmmakers can rent out their own equipment outside of such a service, but ShareGrid makes sure that every rental is insured and every renter is verified.
Today, the company now has over 2100 members and has already listed over $23 million dollars worth of inventory (with prices generally around 40-50% lower than rental houses), with the average top user making as much as $850/month renting gear on the web site. Given that ShareGrid is preparing to launch in New York City soon (update: ShareGrid is now operating in New York City), Indiewire reached out to the company’s co-founder Brent Barbano.
How did you come up with the idea for ShareGrid?
I’m an independent filmmaker and cinematographer. So back in the Fall of 2013 I was in San Fransciso shooting a German documentary on the share economy when the idea hit me. I realized that there needed to be a sharing network for filmmakers such as myself. When I returned to LA, I started forming the concept and that’s when I came across ShareGrid. It turned out my now partners had been working on ShareGrid for a few months. Rather than try and fight them for territory, I contacted them to team up and it’s been an amazing collaboration ever since!
Do you have to pay to become a member? How does ShareGrid work exactly?
No! The membership and service is free! We don’t want artists to feel constricted and limited when browsing and connecting on ShareGrid. From the moment you sign up, we don’t charge an annual or monthly fee. We do, however, take a 12% commission of every transaction, which is some of the lowest in our industry.
You simply search based on categories, keywords or location to find what you’re looking for. Once you find the item you need, you can send a message to the owner and request the item(s) for a specific period of time by using our interactive calendar tool. And based on the cost of replacement, you can either purchase our own Damage Waiver coverage or insurance through our exclusive insurance partner, Athos Insurance. We’ve built a live insurance platform where you can purchase short-term or annual insurance on the spot within the ShareGrid marketplace. It’s the first of it’s kind and our hope is that it keeps the process smooth and painless for artists as they visit and transact on ShareGrid.
As a renter you also need to provide a credit card for payment. As an owner, you just need to provide payment information, a description, a rental cost and pictures to list your gear.
What are some of the benefits of ShareGrid?
There are many, but one of the biggest is being able to connect with other artists and industry professionals. For me, what I love about this industry, is being able to connect and meet new like-minded people. Any filmmaker will tell you, you’re only as good as your network — but I like to use "community." And it’s true. It’s all about relationships. And ShareGrid provides just that: an opportunity to meet and connect with other like-minded individuals who you may collaborate with on future projects. That’s what excites me the most.
The other obvious strength worth noting is that our prices have consistently been 30-50% lower than what rental houses list. All of our gear is privately-owned and naturally, market forces take shape and our prices stay competitive. So as a renter, you have an inventory that is naturally cheaper than what you’d find at any brick and mortar rental house. Every independent artist is on a tight budget, so we know this is a huge attraction for using ShareGrid.
Our inventory keeps growing! We have such a strong and vast inventory to choose from. Not only do we list some of the industry’s leading cameras and lenses, but we also have still photography equipment, film equipment, grip and electric gear, audio gear and production supplies, among other things. We are opening up to spaces, stages and locations very soon among a number of other avenues within the creative industry. So the idea is that we are a one-stop shop for all of your creative endeavors whether it be for film production, photography, editing, etc…
Our tool to search based on location is a big asset. Los Angeles is a tricky city. And most people base their decisions in life on where they have to travel to for that day (sadly). This is true for other major metropolitans as well, so we made sure it was possible to search the system based on proximity. Rather than having to travel to the other side of the city to save a few bucks by renting from a particular rental house, you can just see who might be right around the corner.
Our insurance options have proven to be a big part of what makes ShareGrid helpful. We understand that both sides, owners and renters, have encountered problems with all the fine print in production insurance coverage. We’ve answered that by offering a damage waiver option for a small fee. This is for listings of $5,000 or under in replacement value. Anything over $5,000, we offer short-term and annual insurance which you can purchase instantly on our site (Athos Insurance). Or if you already have your own insurance, you upload your current 3rd party policy for approval by one of our staff.
From the ground up, we’ve tried to build a system that’s easy to use and fun. We’re ever-evolving with an incredible list of features. Currently, our system is very intuitive. Within minutes you can set up your payment information, create a profile and start renting. Same with listing your own gear. If you’re an owner, it takes minutes to list your gear in our marketplace.
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