It’s tough out there for a filmmaker. Whether you’re first time filmmaker or working on your 10th feature, every project is a hustle. At KitSplit we get it: we’ve been there! Our aim is to make your life a little easier.
We recently hired a new Director of Business Development, Daniel Gurzi, to help us achieve this goal. Daniel comes to us after running rentals at AbelCine and then Adorama, two of New York City’s biggest rental houses. He’s one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry, with incredible insight into both the production process and what rental houses and gear owners need to build a thriving business.
We are thrilled that Daniel has joined KitSplit. So I sat down with him to to talk about his background and his role at KitSplit.
Daniel Gurzi, Head of Business Development:: Yeah, business development is one of those catch alls, right? Makes me sound fancy, but what does it mean? My job is to help make the overall rental processes on Kitsplit easy for both our gear owners (including rental houses, production companies and individuals) and our renters.
To do that I’m bringing my experiences in customer service, transactional rentals, technical consultations, manufacturer relationships, industry events, inventory management and general business management. I’ve been working in the film industry since 2001 on the production side, and in rental houses specifically since 2006. This is such a perfect next step, and I’m excited about it because I know there’s a huge benefit to the flexibility of the Kitsplit platform.
Lisbeth: What was it about KitSplit that made you want to work here?
Daniel: With the way rentals in have been changing in the rental houses these past few years, it just seems like the way the industry is moving. So it seemed like the logical next step for me. After managing a rental house like Abel Cine NY, and then building one from the ground up at Adorama Rental Co, Kitsplit offered something different. At KitSplit I have the opportunity to build a marketplace to help people find the equipment they need for their creative projects more easily- and at scale. And I’m creating opportunities for camera equipment investors to reach a broader audience to increase their revenue and make their business stronger. It’s a win-win.
LIsbeth: What’s changed? Can you elaborate a bit on why you think Kitsplit is the way the industry is moving?
Daniel: With technology moving as fast as it is, it is very difficult to forecast investments. When I started working in rentals back in 2006, there weren’t that many camera options. Most medium sized rental houses offered 90% of the few dozen cameras on the market. Today there are over 50 cameras used for video productions, from a dozen different DSLRs, camcorders, and cinema cameras. It is cost prohibitive for any one rental house to own all of these options, much less several of each. This doesn’t even include the new Canon C200 or Sony Venice cameras, or any of the half dozen or so that will be announced between now and next year’s NAB Las Vegas. This variety creates gaps in availability for filmmakers who want the more niche camera systems. Kitsplit enables filmmakers to buy these systems for their own projects and then earn back the investment renting them out to others who can’t afford an outright purchase. And this is just cameras…as we start talking about lenses, lighting, specialty systems and accessories, the variations and customizations become greater still. I find many shooters want to take advantage of some of the smaller technological achievements provided by products that aren’t readily available at rental houses. That said, there are certainly areas of crossover in which owner operators own similar gear to the rental houses. And as the industry gets more and more competitive for rental houses, KitSplit also offers those rental houses an opportunity to market their services to a wider audience to get more rentals. As someone who’s worked at multiple rental houses, I know firsthand that the services KitSplit provides are needed and helpful for the rental house community in our changing environment.
Lisbeth: Tell us more about how KitSplit is helping traditional rental houses.
Daniel: There are several ways. First of all, only a handful of rental houses have a website that can actuallytake an online rental order. With Kitsplit, every rental house gets a complete online rental system ready to go in minutes. KitSplit is saving rental houses staffing time, marketing budget, and engineering resources. And let’s face it, producers aren’t always ready to put their orders in between 9 and 5. And even if they do, it often takes hours to get a quote back during the busy season. KitSplit’s online products and pricing allow rental house customers to build a cart for themselves and get pricing immediately so they can make an order at any hour of the day any day of the week.
Also, Kitsplit vets renters. That would normally require the hiring of 2 or 3 people along with expensive software purchases to ensure security in their rentals. On Kitsplit, we handle that for you, saving you time and money.
There are other ways too, but the other one worth a mention now is the simple fact that Kitsplit is not competing with rental houses. It’s not in the business of owning millions of dollars worth of inventory and renting it directly to customers. We don’t do that. The rental houses do that. Producers understand the services provided by a rental house–technical experts, depth of inventory, customer service, etc. Kitsplit provides additional resources for those producers as well as guidance for the less experienced producers who might feel overwhelmed by the rental process.
Lisbeth: That’s great. Let’s shift gears for a minute. What kind of equipment do you own?
Daniel: I mostly own music recording equipment from my days aspiring to be a rockstar. Some pretty good instrument mics, a few mixers and recorders. Camera-wise I have a Fuji X10 and a Sony A7SII with some lenses. I married into a Canon Rebel T2 with a few zooms. I have a few old GoPros which I used to attach to my guitar while playing live. And years ago I bought a Sony PMW-EX1 and rented it out through Abel when I worked there. One of the best financial decisions of my life to date. That really kicked off my interest in buying and renting out gear for myself.
Lisbeth: Are you looking at buying any new gear now?
Daniel: I could roll the dice with my kids’ 529 accounts…(laughing). The Canon Cinema EOS line has been doing really well overall. There have been some misses, but the C100 and C300 lines have been continuously successful camera month over month since their release. Also, I imagine Sony releasing a next gen lower end camera in 2018 (FS5 II, or FS3??). Everyone says lenses are a safe investment. Maybe. There’s definitely a bubble developing there and as long as sensor technology keeps changing, I’ll take the higher margin faster return on a camera and just keep flipping it when the new one comes out.
Lisbeth: What advice do you give someone who is looking for equipment to buy and rent on Kitsplit?
Daniel: Well first I would think about what I use on every film set and then search for those items on Kitsplit and see what kind of results come up. Use specific search terms as well as generic. One example that people are always searching for are Red Mini Mags. Everyone lists them with their cameras, but very few people list them individually. While just about everyone that rents a Red camera looks for extra cards. The generic search would be something like “Red Media” or just “Memory Cards.” The other thing to consider is your anchor product. What is the 1 item you have that draws people to your profile? For most people it is their camera–a Sony PXW-FS7, Panasonic Varicam, or Arri Alexa Mini. But it also could be a specialty lens or tripod that is a little harder to find. If it were me, I’d open a shop just renting batteries, memory cards, and filters. Like an exchange traded fund. Super non-sexy stuff. Best investment.
Can you tell us one of the projects you’re working on with Kitsplit that you’re particularly excited about?
Daniel: Oh man. Good question. The current expansion into the LA marketplace is pretty awesome. I’m getting to meet a lot of great people that love this industry and are excited for what lies ahead. That definitely excites me. But the MOST exciting thing? For me it’s all about value-added services. To continually build out the Kitsplit platform, accommodating the needs of owners and renters to make the entire rental process as easy and enjoyable as possible.
To that end, the coolest project I’m working on right now is expanding our concierge service. Essentially, producers are sending us their rental bids, just like they’ve been doing for the last 10 years. So we get the bid here at Kitsplit and then we get to help them shop on our platform for the best deal. And usually what I’m doing is calling the owners directly to get specific quotes, which basically is like referring an entire job to a specific gear owner. The rental houses seem to love this. Even several of the owners have asked to be on the short list for their items. We’re still developing this process, but we have some amazing high end production companies already trying it out with us. I feel like a national rental agent with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of inventory at my disposal.