In less than four years, Charmcine has grown by leaps and bounds, beyond what any one of us could have imagined. What started out as a "by appointment only" business run out of a residential basement has now become a full fledged company with five employees. Our inventory, too, has grown tremendously as we strive to offer all of the top end cameras, lenses, and accessories that our customers expect. There have been numerous milestones this past year, and we'd like to take a moment to reflect on them. So here are some of the highlights of 2018.
3 YEAR ANNIVERSARY
June of this year, we celebrated three years in business. It's amazing how the time has flown. To mark the occasion, we held a birthday party for the company and invited our clients and peers out for a fun Saturday of music, food, exhibits, and games. The highlight of the day had to be the "Duncan Booth" where we all took turns trying to dunk Tommy as he egged on the crowd. On display we had ten different camera packages showing off the breadth of our camera lineup. The event served as a great opportunity for our team to kick back and relax while we appreciated all of our hard work over the past three years.
Every year we've been in business we've added a new face to our team, and this year was no exception. In fact, we added not one, but two new employees to keep up with our expanding workload.
In July we brought on Nick Gorey to help with gear preps and returns. Nick is new to rentals but has a strong foundation on set as an AC, and he is excited by the technology. He is also passionate about lenses and lens design which has made him a great fit for our team.
In September we brought on Kyle Pallansch who is serving as our Alexandria Rental Manager for our Capital Camera location (more on this later). Kyle brings to our team over six years of experience in the rental field and a wealth of knowledge which has helped to improve every aspect of our company, from processes to gear management, and he has helped implement new programs to better our overall customer experience.
We are looking forward to the continued expansion of our team in the upcoming year as we roll out new service offerings and hone our structure.
OUR GROWING INVENTORY
Over the past year we saw our inventory double in all areas, from camera bodies to lenses, lighting, and accessories. Some hot new additions included our P+S Technik Kowa Evolutions anamorphic lenses, Zeiss's new Supreme primes, Zeiss's vintage Super Speed MKII primes, as well as two Red Gemini camera bodies. We also expanded our audio lineup with Comteks, more mic and recorder options, and our GE department added a new Gemini 2x1 LED, Quasar crossfades, and Joker 800 HMIs. Not only did we add a lot of new gear, but we also focused heavily on our cases that hold this gear. We redid all of our AKS cases, switching over to Pelican Trek paks, and we designed several new custom foams for our camera kits and accessories to ensure that while traveling, our packages would be safe and easy. Here are a few of our favorite photos of our new toys.
CAPITAL CAMERA - ALEXANDRIA, VA
CapCam, as we affectionally call it, launched in September in response to a need we noticed in the market. While CharmCine is Baltimore based, we found that often we were still serving customers based in Washington, DC and Virginia, even though they had closer options for rentals. As this trend continued to build, the idea of having a second office in this area started to make more sense - not only for us, but for the customers. A local office would allow us to be more responsive to their requests in a timely manner and offer better support during their jobs. So after much consideration, CapCam was born.
When the rubber started to meet the road, we knew we would need a rock star to run the show at this location. The person to fit this role would need years of rental experience and technical knowledge along with a passion for customer service. Kyle's vision for the perfect shop blended seamlessly with ours, and we set out to build something special - a shop built around the camera assistant and their specific needs. Every aspect of the new building would be laid out to offer an environment free of clutter and distraction for customers prepping. In the end we constructed three dedicated client prep lanes with ample space to spread out, large resolution charts, custom powered rolling prep carts, and all cleanly tucked away from the hustle and bustle of our every day work. Not only did we want the prep experience to be as easy as possible, but we also wanted to make sure the location itself was easy to access. We chose to place our new building only one minute off the highway near the intersection of I-95 / 395 / and 495 in Alexandria.
We are sometimes asked why we didn't continue with CharmCine South or CharmCine DC or some other extension of the brand. This question was deliberated at great length internally, but as a team we decided that CharmCine is special to Charm City and we wanted our DC office to stand on its own and have its own flavor. We did, however, decide to maintain some connections between the two locations with our rotating shutter logo. The yellow accent blade was changed to a pure red for the CapCam signage, and looking back we are happy with this decision.
A recurring trend that has continued through both of our shops is focus on the customer, and our desire to stay in tune with our community. We attempted to capture this when creating our first promo video for CapCam, called "The Light." Our team spent five days filming mock and real crews on set performing everyday tasks in hopes of presenting a glimpse into the everyday life of our clients. The end result is a sixty second short film that we are very proud of, because it shows that at the end of day it's not about the gear, but the filmmakers using the gear, that matters.
The last big marker for CapCam was our grand opening party. It took us two months to officially cut the proverbial ribbon on the shop. Active construction to finalize details and our customer's busy schedules had us held up until November to have an event. But when the time finally came, the party was a huge success. Over eight hours, we had a constant flow of fresh faces streaming though to see our new shop, touch some gear, and enjoy some fine networking and a flamethrower (yes a flamethrower). Red Star Pictures, also known as The Washington Source, came out as well to show off some fun lighting toys, and our good friend David Aronson brought his Phantom for some slowmo mischief. The night was a blast and we couldn't be happier with the reception we received from the filmmaking community. We are looking forward to hosting future events in this location.
2018 was an adventure and 2019 is shaping up to be an even busier year as CapCam continues ramping up to its potential in the DC/VA market. Already this year, we announced that effective immediately, we will offer new Saturday hours from 9am-12pm at both shops, to allow our clients the ability to pick up or drop off equipment. Many renters have mentioned that getting to us during normal hours can be difficult, so we added Saturday hours to aleviate this issue. For now we will not be accepting new orders or holding preps on Saturdays, but this could be reassessed in the future as needed. Ultimately, our path forward is that of growth (in response to our customers) and continuing to work hard to earn our place as the premiere rental house for the DMV. Thanks to all of our loyal customers for trusting us and cheers to another great year!