A Little About Us
Clairmont Camera opened its head office in Hollywood, 1976. The company was started by Denny Clairmont and his brother, the late Terry Clairmont; their business model from the beginning was to foster an environment where clients and crew members had free access to all key personnel in each department within the Clairmont organization. As the company grew, a branch office located in Vancouver, British Columbia opened in the eighties and then another office in Toronto, Ontario in the mid-nineties with branch offices following in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Montreal, Canada and more on the way. President, Denny Clairmont surrounds himself with an expert team of designers and craftspeople who maintain and customize our equipment to exacting standards and an outstanding support team in all other aspects of the business. We specialize in one thing: professional high end digital and film motion picture cameras, lenses and accessories and Clairmont's equipment receives the most painstaking maintenance in North America. Our reputation is built upon equipment that our clients can rely on and legendary service to support it. Creativity, your mind our tools!
Denny Clairmont has the film industry in his genes. His father Leonard was born in Sweden, where he apprenticed with a famous still photographer during his teens. Leonard moved to Hollywood in the early 20's, bought his first movie camera two years later and eventually became a cinematographer. Denny began his career in the film industry when he was six months old as a performer in "The Gay Desperado," a 1936 feature film. He performed in 57 movies as an extra or stand-in.
Denny became interested in the auto shops that school offered, first in motorcycles, then in hot rods and sports cars and participated in drag racing and time trials at the local dry lakes. Eventually, he opened up a speed shop, "Fiasco" that he and his brother operated till the mid sixties.
Eventually, Denny and Terry decided to follow in their father's footsteps and become cameramen. They both found employment at Birns & Sawyer in Hollywood. After a few months, Terry left to become a cinematographer specializing in television commercials. Denny remained at Birns & Sawyer and eventually became supervisor of repairs, modifications and designing special items for the cameras and lenses in the rental department. Denny's experience in modifying engines and cars for racing taught him a lot about engineering, which he put to good use with the camera equipment.
The brothers borrowed money to purchase two Arriflex BL cameras and placed them on consignment with Birns and Sawyer. Haskell Wexler, ASC came in one day to check out this new film camera. After, a 45 minute conversation with Denny, Haskell wrote a $30,000 check and placed an order for his very own BL. Immediately afterwards, Denny's boss balled him out for wasting 45 minutes talking to a "hippie cameraman.”
Eventually, as Terry's career took off, he and Denny decided to invest in opening a camera rental company where they originally had partners, Ed and Mitzie Engle and they called themselves Clairmont Engle. When the Engles retired in 1980, the name became Clairmont Camera.
Denny has earned a Technical Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the invention of a lens perspective control system, and two Emmys from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his role in the development of special lens systems for Clairmont Camera. He also holds several patents for motion picture camera accessories and lenses that he invented. Denny is the recipient of the Canadian Society of Cinematographers prestigious Bill Hilson award, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored him with the John A Bonner Medal of Commendation and most recently, The American Society of Cinematographers presented Denny with the Bud Stone Award. Denny, is an associate member of both the ASC and SOC, a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Technical Achievement Awards committee, president of Clairmont Camera and sole owner since the passing of his beloved brother Terry in October, 2006.
Honorary Local 600 member Terry Clairmont, who through the course of his career served as mentor to so many in the industry, has passed away. He died after a short illness in the home of his brother and business partner, Denny Clairmont.
Terry, who was born in Hollywood on May 21, 1942, began in the movie industry as a very young child. He worked in front of the cameras as an extra as well as a stand-in for more than 50 movies.
At a young age, Terry and his Brother shared many hobbies, including an interest in automobiles and all sorts of motor sports, with a particular leaning toward drag racing.
The two later became partners and opened an auto repair business, but Terry eventually decided that he and his brother should follow in the footsteps of their father, Leonard, and become cinematographers.
By 1967 Terry was working as a camera assistant and landed a staff job at N. Lee Lacy, a large company that produced commercials. By the early 1970's Terry had advanced to a staff cinematographer at N. Lee Lacy and shot many TV commercials for them before moving on to became a successful freelancer .
During this time, Terry generously shared his experience with others moving up the ranks, helping them find jobs and advance in their careers.
In 1976 Terry and his Brother Denny -- who had become an expert camera and lens technician -- started a motion picture camera rental company with partners Edward and Mitzie Engle. Their company became Clairmont Camera, when the Engles retired in 1980. Terry continued to shoot TV commercials and directed the operation of Clairmont Camera on his days off. While filming, he kept in touch with the office with the help of an early Motorola 27-pound, 3-watt cell phone that he kept on his camera dolly
By 1985, the company had grown to a point that required Terry's full attention. He retired as a cinematographer and became the company's full-time CEO/Treasurer.
Under Terry's guidance, Clairmont Camera flourished. He opened a branch in Vancouver British Columbia in 1987 and then another branch in Toronto, Ontario in 1995. By this time, the company had grown into the second largest motion picture camera-only rental company in world, employing nearly 100 people.
Most employees have worked at Clairmont Camera for over 15 years, many over 20 years and several even longer. This record is a testament to Terry's insistence on fair pay, good treatment, and the best medical insurance the company could afford for employees and their families. Many years ago Terry started a profit sharing plan for the employees. He made these commitments to his employees against the advice of his financial advisors. In the past few months Terry's made plans to ensure that the company would go on smoothly without him.
Throughout his career, Terry made a tremendous contribution to cinematographers trying to make it in the industry. He mentored many young aspiring cinematographers and saw to it that Clairmont Camera assists students attending universities by supplying them with camera equipment to use when needed. He made a rule that once the company made a commitment to these students, it would not break it, regardless of how it affected the company's bottom line.
When he and his brother were starting out, Terry often said, others had offered them help and it was time for them to do the same for others
New Artist Program
As an industry leader in cinema camera rentals and innovation, Clairmont Camera strives to support future industry leaders and innovators through its New Artist Program. The Clairmont Camera New Artist Program provides the entertainment industry's up-and-coming, new artists with leading edge cameras, lenses and accessories for their non-profit projects, school-sponsored student films, public service announcements and much, much more at little or no charge. To find out more about Clairmont Camera's exciting New Artist Program or to see if your project qualifies please contact our Rental Department.