Kristina Budelis co-founded Kitsplit with a revolutionary yet simple concept for filmmakers to rent gear from each other. Since then, the Kitsplit community has grown to 30,000 filmmakers and over a hundred rental houses. Prior to Kitsplit Budelis was a video producer at the New Yorker and a freelance shooter for a wide range of clients, so her background provided invaluable insights into the challenges and frustrations filmmakers experience when renting gear, including the costs of procuring rental insurance.
“I started occasionally renting to and from friends, which is pretty common in the industry, but I always felt a little uncomfortable without a contract or insurance, because my camera’s the most expensive thing that I own, which was also true for some of my friends that I was renting from,” says Budelis. “So I came up with the idea of KitSplit basically as a way to solve my own problem and to make my life easier. I was lucky to meet two co-founders, Elizabeth Kaufman and Ken Amarit, who also had background in the film and video world and who really recognized that this was a pain point and wanted to work with me to make this idea a reality.”
Rental Insurance Is a Necessity
At times, renting camera gear is a necessity that an artist can’t avoid or work without. “I think for a lot of people, insurance can be an afterthought, but it’s super important,” says Budelis. “But it can also be really expensive and difficult to get. We’ve heard of people trying to rent from certain places, being turned away because they didn’t have the right insurance or the rental places weren’t selling insurance. Contacting brokers is a lengthy process. We’re really proud that when you rent on KitSplit, you can buy insurance instantly, and it’s super affordable.”
“As an owner, your gear is always insured if it’s on KitSplit. That’s part of the benefits that we have for gear owners. As a renter, we have pretty flexible options. You can purchase insurance instantly on our site, but if you have your own insurance, you can upload a copy of your policy and we’ll verify it for you.”
Kitsplit Instant Insurance
Kitsplit recently launched an exclusive partnership with Heffernan Insurance, which helped bring rates way down. “Heffernan were able to give us extremely low rates because we have a really great proprietary vetting system,” explains Budelis. “They were able to look at our stats and see that our members are really trustworthy and take great care of the gear.”
Being able to channel more of your budget toward talent, location, and gear is always preferable to having a substantial portion of your funds reserved for insurance. “Quite a few filmmakers have had really negative experiences buying insurance,” says Budelis. “Our process is very quick and very affordable — 40% less expensive than the competition, in fact — so that a filmmaker’s budget can go much much farther.”
Kitsplit’s Concierge Service
A few years ago, I had to procure two insurance policies from two separate brokers in order to rent a camera from one rental house and a lens from another. It was indeed both expensive and time consuming, so a one-stop shop for that gear and insurance would have been very welcome.
“We have hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gear on the platform.” Budelis explains. “We really have a huge inventory, ranging from cameras and lenses, to VR gear, phones, even 16mm film gear. We can service large shoots, as well. We’ve served features and we’ve served companies like NBC, Hearst, and National Geographic. One of the really great services we have is something we call ‘concierge service.’ Kitsplit has a lot of awesome folks who are gear experts, who are filmmakers and people that have worked at rental houses who know a ton about gear. So you can just send them your list of all the gear you need for your project or your shoot, and they’ll find it for you.”
Connecting Content Creators
Kitsplit’s Instant Rental Insurance is definitely a great reason to join their community, but there are many more benefits. Opportunities exist to make new friends, network with professionals, and learn more about your field of interest. It’s a place where you can keep up on latest technologies and trends, but most importantly, like Pond5, it’s a place where you can stay motivated and inspired.
“We now have thousands of people on KitSplit who are renting from independent filmmakers, and rental houses who are renting out their gear and making money, often on gear that would otherwise just be sitting around. Filmmakers have, in some cases, made enough money off renting their gear to totally pay it off, which is really awesome — and obviously that can enable you to buy more gear and maybe to spend more time on a passion project”.
“Renting gear to and from individuals could be a little tricky without a contract or an insurance policy,” concludes Budelis. “Our inspiration for launching instant rental insurance was experiencing a pain point and wanting to fix it.”
Top image: Kitsplit founders, clockwise from left: Kristina Budelis, Ken Amarit, Elizabeth Kaufman