Budgeting,  Production,  Sustainability

Use the “sharing economy” for your film

Producers are always mindful of how best to stretch the budget to accommodate the creative vision and practical requirements for any film production. The sharing economy is especially helpful in several areas of film budget to maximizing your money. Below is a breakdown of how to use it for some of the key budget line items: Vehicles, Locations/Spaces and Art department materials.


Car rental companies have been around for decades and have epitomized the sharing economy way before it was even a word. The best known companies in the U.S. are Avis, Hertz, Budget and Enterprise. They all have memberships and rewards programs and I highly recommend you take advantage of discounted rates, free rentals and upgrades and “preferred” amenities. I’ve been an Avis Preferred member for years – at major airports the preferred status has saved me so much time picking up my car when I’m on a tight schedule. Other free programs to consider are Hertz Gold Plus, Budget Fastbreak, and Enterprise Plus.

For short term vehicle rentals (hours as opposed to days) Zipcar is a national rental company that offers cars and mini-vans in lots of cities and towns. Their Zipcar student program offers rentals to renters 21 years and older and students 18 and older and they have many cars near 600 campuses across the U.S. The Zipcar business program offers accounts for companies so employees can pick up cars for film productions and other work-related needs. The hourly rental rates include free gas and tolls which makes it cost effective.

Turo is a company that facilitates rentals for cars that are owned by individuals. Like an “Airbnb” for cars, you can rent vehicles in most U.S. cities (it is not available in NYC but you can rent across the river in New Jersey). They have some cool cars like Porsches and Teslas so you probably won’t want to use it for PA runs or buying craft service.

Car2Go is a niche market in major international cities. The company rents only Mercedes-Benz Smart ForTwo mini cars and the Mercedes-Benz four-wheel drive crossover GLA in places like Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen and Milan.

Don’t forget about local production vehicle companies who primarily service the film industry. In NYC, (C.C. Rentals) (Midtown, downtown and L.I.C. locations) and Edge Auto Rentals (Brooklyn) are two of the most common – they rent trucks, cargo vans, minivans and cars and understand how to handle corporate accounts, pick-up authorization for Production Assistants and a fast turnarounds.


The sharing economy has been a boon to the location scouting needs of any production. Peerspace and Giggster are websites that feature spaces like photography studios, lofts, event venues and sound stages in cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Nashville, Seattle, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles and New York. Peerspace also has options in Berlin, London and Paris and Giggster offers locations in Dominican Republic. Avvay focuses on spaces in Nashville, Dallas, Portland, Chicago and Houston only while This Open Space has offerings in the Canadian cities of Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal, in addition to LA and NYC. One more to consider is Splacer which covers the film production hub cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, SF, LA and NYC.

Airbnb and VRBO are two of the biggest home companies specifically geared towards world travelers and tourists but hosts sometimes are open to renting their homes for location filming and crew housing. Make sure to let the owner know what you plan to use the home for when inquiring – there may be a different pay structure and limitations of such usage.

Art department

ArtCube Nation calls itself “the professional social network for The Art Department.” Its website’s film/tv/theater members post listings to source needed props, set dressing and art materials, publicize available Art department jobs and offer “stuff” that needs to go after you wrap a project. It’s a great resource that lowers art budgets and keeps literally tons of materials out of the landfill. What’s not to love?

Materials for the Arts is the original and largest “reuse center” in New York City. The organization collects donations from individuals and companies and then offers the recycled unwanted materials to assist nonprofits with arts programming as well as NYC public schools and City agencies. MFTA’s huge warehouse in Long Island City constantly changes as the ebb and flow of donations and reuse of materials wash in and out of the space. Years ago I visited with a production designer to gather materials for a short film we were making – it’s a great resource.