Guide to Packing and Relocating Film Equipment

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

There’s nothing more exciting than working on a movie. However, just like with all interesting jobs - there are plenty of details that are not as glamorous as you may think. For example, when you’re traveling with a film crew, there’s a lot of film equipment to transport to different locations. Plus, we’re usually talking about equipment that’s pretty expensive and not easy to replace. With that in mind, you need to take all the needed precautions to prevent any damage to the film equipment in transit. After all, the last thing you need is to face gear replacements on set. So, if you’re going to be packing and relocating film equipment - we’ve got a couple of tips for you!

Get Insurance 

As you may have realized by now, packing and relocating filming equipment in ways that guarantee that it won’t get damaged is not easy, especially when you’re transporting it across long distances. And depending on the scale of your TV or movie production - that could be the norm, rather than an exception. Obviously, easily breakable things need extra attention in such a situation. But even before you make any safety precautions for your film equipment, you need to face one simple fact: something is bound to get a little tumbled in transport. And that’s true no matter how much effort you put into proper packing. 

So, before you begin relocating your filming equipment, make sure that you’ve got the proper insurance coverage. Sure, depending on what you’re transporting, this might be quite expensive. But trust us, at the end of the day, it will have been well worth it, for peace of mind, if nothing else. And in case of severe damage, you’ll thank your lucky stars that you thought about it in advance. 

Make a List

If you’re working in film or TV production, there’s one thing you’re probably aware of already - this is a pretty hectic process. Even in a small-scale project, a good organizational structure can mean the difference between success and utter failure. And that goes for every aspect of your production - including packing and relocating film equipment. Unfortunately, even the best production companies can make a misstep here, making your effort to keep everything in line even more important. 

So, before you begin transporting the assorted film gear, make a list of all the equipment that you’re moving down to the very last piece of equipment. Write down what it is worth and the reason why you need it in another location. Not only will this keep you from taking more equipment than you need, but you’ll also be able to file your insurance claim more easily down the line, if need be. At the end of the day, keeping a neat inventory of everything is just common sense. 

Don't Overpack

As most filmmakers know, being prepared for any eventuality is important. That’s why packing and relocating filming equipment needs to be a very hands-on process. Simultaneously, though, you don’t want to make any silly mistakes. For example: make sure you’re not overpacking the containers for your film equipment as you make your way to the next shoot. Take only what you definitely need, reducing the risk of damaging any film gear by packing too much of it. 

Plus, as you undoubtedly know - many areas have rentable film equipment you can easily make use of. Unless we’re talking about very specific things that your crew uses, always consider renting it at the location. That will also help with the costs, seeing as you won’t be paying for additional baggage fees. And, you can keep better track of your film gear!

Proper Padding

When you’re packing film equipment for relocation, proper padding can be the key difference between a breezy move and damaged gear. For example, you don’t want to place your camera in a hard case without foam insert that will cushion any movement. In fact, there should be no extra space in the container - fill all of it up with foam. 

Speaking of the case itself, definitely get a premium-quality one; a hard case that’s able to withstand the tumble of the road. As for the foam cushioning, you can easily get it at any hardware store. All you have to do after that is to take the measure of your case and cut the foam into pieces that fit inside. Once you’ve packed everything in neatly, give the case a shake to see if anything moves inside. If that does happen, you need additional padding - there should be no room for your film equipment to move around inside. That’s the best way of preventing any damage during transport. 

Customs Preclearance

In many situations, packing and relocating filming equipment doesn’t just mean going to a new town. Conversely, you could be traveling to an entirely different country. And if you’re taking your own film equipment there instead of renting at the location, you’ll need to get it precleared by the local customs officials. Not doing this means that you risk being held up at the border.

Remember - all countries have different rules and regulations regarding customs. So, have your staff do some online research, or take a look at it yourself. It’s definitely a good idea to call ahead as well and learn of all the documentation you need to cross the border easily. You don’t want to face any delays in production, after all!

ProductionHUB ProductionHUB Logo

About the Author

Sam Wells
Sam Wells is a freelance journalist, mostly writing about the production process in cinematography. Besides being fascinated with the magic of how movies are made, he’s also an avid history buff and Red Sox fan.

Related Blog Posts


There are no comments on this blog post.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.