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Does Gear really matter?

You'll hear polarizing opinions about how relevant gear is to creativity. Today we're going to dive into the conversation.

On one side, you have people arguing it's not about the camera but the person using it. Conversely, there's an argument that gear opens up creative ideas and execution.

Here's the main idea I want to impose. You can have two different ideas, and both be valid and supportive. Here at Theal, it's about imposing a growth mindset and breaking through limiting beliefs.

The Truth. Being a confident, empowered creative, you aren't holding onto a gear crutch to reach your next goal or breakthrough while also not shaming gear as a talentless approach.

Gear solves problems. For us and our projects, it's a topic we cross once we know the problems we need to solve, have the crew in place to solve them, and be respectful of budgets.

In most cases, we advocate renting gear, but purchases are great too. A good purchase becomes an asset for growth, making your process faster, improving accuracy, supporting your team, and giving confidence to creative output. The same goes for renting (no arguing about renting vs. buying here).

When we think about the gear, I think the biggest shift is in understanding its place and priority in our process, sales, and value proposition.

In our early days, we didn't have a bunch of tools. Our skills we limited to our minds, the way we thought about stories, filmmaking, and being pretty gritty in getting things done. We'd often get beat out by some other filmmaker with a RED or fancy studio, which was disappointing, but then some of those same people would come back to us saying the experience wasn't as good or the video didn't turn out well. This became powerful because we built our reputation on being great at our craft (listening, prescribing the right solution, and being innovative in our execution).

So over the years, we started landing bigger budgets, buying better gear, and renting the things we wished we had. This never became our sales point. These were enhancers for solving problems.

So when we look at gear, it's to do these things. We often rent or purchase tools that make our crew's job easier, faster, or more satisfying. This does several things, but most importantly, it's an investment in them which makes them feel heard and appreciated. In turn, our crew serves a great experience for our clients every time. You can't buy this (well, I guess we are).

Often, a tool might pique our interest or set the tone to match a treatment. This is another great way to use your knowledge and expertise to choose the right tool for the job. Our clients don't care about this (unless they are filmmakers, too!). What they care about is if it matches their desires, is a good time to work together, and we get them the deliverables we promised. It's all results.

So why buy or rent? How much time will a job take, and how much time is available? Knowing the experience our clients want is crucial to getting it done the right vs. anyway. So gear helps us move faster and enhances creative vision, but this is experience. These things work together to do the most important thing, create a great experience. Not having the right tools slows the day down, makes for grumpy crew and clients, and eventually sabotages creative output. The final product shows.

So my argument for gear is to ensure it's the right tool. Making art is meant to be fun and solve real problems. Gear has a place. It's not first in line, a leading sales tool, or something our clients care about.

If you're producing or directing, you're probably selling projects too. Start to communicate YOUR VALUE, which is how you think you can solve their problems, why you're excited about this project, and move it forward.

Action Items
  • Start Asking - How can this Gear Solve a Problem

  • Gear should Create Efficiency (Support Your Team)

  • Gear Should Improve Accuracy (Makes You & Clients More Confident)

  • Gear Should Enhance Your Creativity

  • Gear Should be a Supportive Tool vs. Leading Sales Point

  • Your Ability to Solve Problems is a Top Priority

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