Once your budget and schedule have been established, it is imperative that a list of required equipment be drawn up and rental houses contacted. This should be done as soon as possible. Some equipment is in high demand and may need to be reserved or ordered much earlier than you would expect.
Locate rental houses
Find a local listing of vendors and find a number of companies that will best suit your individual needs. Some houses may provide complete packages for production while others may be more specialized. A detailed list of equipment needs comes in handy here.
Contact the Vendor
Ask if they will have the equipment you need when you need it. Talk to them about the requirements of your project. Most rental houses are up to date on the latest gear and techniques and may provide you with useful information.
Reserve your Equipment
Place the equipment on hold for the dates that you're planning to shoot. This should be done as soon as possible. This is called a hold (or pencil) and does not obligate you to pay for the equipment until you actually use it. If someone else has already requested equipment for that time period, you may need to accept a second or third hold. If you are absolutely sure that you will need the equipment for that date, ask if you can firm the order. The rental house will then contact the hold in front of you and ask them to firm the order or release the hold. If the first hold is released, then you can firm the order. However, if you firm a reservation then you are responsible to pay for the equipment whether you use it or not. If your plans or requierements change, let the rental house know as soon as possible. The rental house organizes their work schedule based on equipment holds.
It is a smart idea to test an equipment well before the shoot. It is essential that you test the camera before you shoot. The rental house will not be liable for all your wasted hard work and money if your camera did not work properly.
Provide Proof of Insurance
Most rental houses will require that you show proof of insurance. The equipment is extremely expensive and you are responsible once it is in your hands. The rental company should be able to provide you with the name of an insurance provider that can cover your production.
Sign a contract
Be sure to get a signed agreement in writing regarding the rental terms, cost, time of check out and return as well as a detailed list of liablity and responsiblity.
Check equipment and be sure that nothing is missing. It's best to discover you are missing the power supply for your camera at the rental house rather than on the set. Double check items against the your highly detailed equipment list. Be sure to allow plenty of time so you are not rushed and overlook small but vitally important details. If you have an early crew call, it might be best to pick up the equipment the night before.