Equipment for hire

    Arjun Aiyar of The Rights Lawyers discusses the key issues to consider when hiring AV production equipment.
    Comment, Broadcast Business


    As most producers know, the quality of any television production depends to a great degree on the type of equipment that is used. A lot of production equipment is highly sensitive and consequently fairly expensive.

    As a result, most producers will rent production equipment for their shoots, which makes shooting more economical.

    Given the sensitive nature of the equipment and the cost of each piece of equipment, most companies that lease such equipment will first ask a producer to sign an agreement for the hire of such equipment, that attempts to cover most eventualities.

    The agreement for hire will normally contain the commercial terms for hiring the equipment plus a standard set of terms and conditions. While such agreements may be intimidating to some producers, they should go through these agreements with a fine toothcomb.

    A deal memo is the way to go!

    It is preferable to have a deal memorandum attached to the terms and conditions as this makes it easy for the producer to quickly assess what he's getting for the leasing company.

    A deal memorandum is basically a short document which should list out what equipment is being provided, at what price, for what duration and if there are any special or unique terms of use for the equipment.

    What to look out for

    Attached to a deal memorandum would be the general terms and conditions, which govern the leasing of the equipment. There are various key issues that should be covered in the agreement and including the following:

    • The length of time, which the producer is getting the equipment for is usually set out in the deal memo. Producers would however be well advised to have a clause in the agreement which allows for an extension of time for the use of the equipment in case there is a delay in the production schedule.

    • Where and for what purpose the equipment is being used would normally be set out in the deal memo. The terms and conditions of use will greatly depend on this.

    If for example you are shooting in a rain forest the terms and conditions of the agreement (and quite possibly the rental price and the insurance cost) will be different.

    If the equipment is being used in a studio the terms of use will generally be less onerous compared with an outdoor shoot. It is also important to specify who will be operating the equipment and that that person is qualified to do so.

    • The leasing company will generally say that you will get the equipment in a good and workable condition. The agreement should however cover the eventuality of the equipment not being in such a condition when you receive it.

    Remember, getting the equipment in poor condition will result in a delay to your production schedule and you need to make sure that if you do receive damaged equipment then the leasing company is under an obligation to replace the equipment within a very short span of time and (if possible) to making good any loss you may suffer as a result of production delays due to the faulty equipment.

    • Insurance provisions are a key part of any agreement for the hire of production equipment. Since the equipment is sensitive, very often not made in the Middle East and needs to be maintained under specific conditions, the insurance premiums for such types of equipment are quite high.

    Make sure that whatever insurance you take out adequately covers you and that the exceptions in the policy are limited to the greatest extent possible.

    • The agreement should lay out the consequences of delays that occur as a result of things which are beyond your reasonable control (or Force Majeure events as they are known in legal parlance).

    Normally if such events occur the agreement should be suspended for as long as such an event continues. For example if there is flooding for three days then the agreement should be suspended for those three days.

    At the end of such an event the agreement should continue as if the event hadn't occurred which in the flooding case would mean the producer gets to keep the equipment for three more days on the same terms.

    Watch out for the key things listed above in agreements for the hire of equipment. You should be well protected and on your way to getting the equipment you need to produce that television programme or movie you've wanted to make with the least amount of disruption possible.

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