Working in a rental house has always been pitched to beginners wanting to get into the camera department as a solid entry-way into the biz. The caveat is that you’re giving up some of what makes the film industry attractive – like a freelance schedule, working on set, making movies – in order to get your start. This rental tech, after close to 3 years on the job, agrees:
I’ll be honest, it did change me. I wanted to be a DP for the longest time, and I wanted to work from the bottom up over 20 years. Now, I’m not so sure. It definitely is a place you can get stuck. Remember the people that come in there are ACs already on shows not hiring, and if they need an extra hand, they don’t immediately think of the prep tech from the rental house.
That said, he does get work as an AC:
Lastly, I do get to set fairly often. I usually work as a 1st AC and am pretty well prepared to that affect, have a wireless FF, etc.
The rest of the AMA has great info on how consigned gear works, what cameras go out most often, and how camera assistants can work better with the rental house staff. Being a rental tech isn’t the most glamorous position, but it provides a stepping stone for a lot of people and they can be an AC’s best friend in a pinch.