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Ben Yennie: Is Equipment a Good Investment for Filmmakers?

Film has always relied on Technology, and it will continue to do so.  It will also continue to require skilled craftspeople doing jobs that require highly specialized equipment.  While the barrier to entry for that equipment has been greatly lowered, getting all the equipment you need is still an expensive endeavor.  So does investing in equipment and technology increase your chances for success?  Let's take a look at the data.

Is Equipment a Good Investment For filmmakers? from Ben Yennie

On slide 2, we see that nearly 70% of Filmmakers use screenwriting software personally, however only a little bit above 60% have been on productions that used screenwriting software.  This makes screenwriting the most commonly used type of software we asked about. 

Around 40% of Productions personally use scheduling, budgeting, and cloud storage software, but only around 25% of filmmakers use scheduling and budgeting software.  Very few productions or producers use productivity management software.  This could be due to a lack of specialized software for the task.    

Take that with a grain of salt, since this report is sponsored by a fantastic piece of productivity management software for film, and authored by a co-founder and CMO for said company.

Slide 5 is a top level examination of how many filmmakers own equipment, and how much the ones who do have invested in their equipment.  We can see that only about half of filmmakers own equipment.  Of those who do own equipment, the vast majority of those who responded own less than 25,000 USD of equipment.  Many of those who do own equipment only use it on their own projects.  Although, there’s likely a correlation to the relatively low investment in their equipment.

On Slide 6, we examine whether attending film school affects the likelihood of filmmakers to invest in equipment.  We found that graduates are both more likely to own equipment and own more valuable equipment than drop outs, but those who went to other forms of education have a slightly higher instance of people investing more than 25,000 USD, although that finding is within the margin of error.  Filmmakers who graduated from film school are also more likely to bring their equipment to set, or rent their equipment to others.

Slide 6 examines equipment investment by job type.  Unsurprisingly, people in the camera department invest the most in their equipment.  However, the difference in equipment investment by job type was less than we expected, with a general average of 50% of each job type spending between 5,000 and 25,000 on equipment.

Slide 8 Examines the effects of renting your equipment to others on filmmaking income.  Generally speaking, the effects are quite positive, however these effects are also inconclusive due to the higher instance of rentals as people invest more in equipment.   

Slide 9 looks into the effects of equipment investment on filmmaking and household income.  There does appear to be a correlation to higher equipment investment and higher income.  However that correlation could be due to filmmakers investing more and finding more work, or filmmakers finding work and investing more into their equipment.  It could also be a feedback loop, which may be why we see a spike in income for those who have invested more than 100,000 USD in equipment.  However, our sample size for those who invested that much was very small, so the data should be taken with a grain of salt.

Thanks for reading!  Next week, in our final installment we’ll be looking at what makes for financial success in the film industry.  If you don’t want to wait, you can support this research and buy the entire report on amazon. You also get a lot of additional data we didn’t include in the web version of the report.

For every book purchased, we’ll donate one to a non-profit or educational institution.  If you like this report, and the data, please support it, so we can iterate on it.


If you want to be a more tech savvy filmmaker, check out ProductionNext, it’s a new kind of Project management for independent film.  The banner above can tell you what we do, and you can apply with the banner below.


If you want to read the other sections of this report, plus lots of bonus content, plus an entire standard survey export, check out the paperback version of this book on Amazon.  It's more than 110 full-color pages of data on the Film Industry.  Plus, for every copy sold, we donate a copy to a relevant educational institution.  Click the image below for mor information.

If you want to read the other web versions of this report, here's a table of contents.

Section 1: Overview/Key Metrics - 
Section 2: Economics of being a filmmaker - 
Section 3: Does Film School Matter - 
Section 4: The (Not So) Changing Face of Gender in the Film Industry -
Section 5: Do Romantic Relationships Correlate to Success in the Film Industry -
Section 6: Is Equipment a good investment for filmmakers? - (This Section)
Section 7: What makes for Economic Success in the Film Industry? - 



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