Building Your Own Production on Little or No Budget
Well, after the last article (May, 2001) you should understand the importance of the five steps to creating your desired technical outcome. Just to recap our last article, the five steps are as follows; 1) Your Dream Must Become a Vision, 2) Write the Vision Down, 3) Acquire Knowledge for the Vision, 4) Use What You Have, and 5) Start Somewhere. Since you have hopefully worked on these things, now we can get started with practical application.
What do you need, but do not have the money to purchase? Is it cables, instruments, equalizers, pyrotechnics, microphones, etc.? Write it down and be sure to include everything. You will be surprised at the number of people who come to you with money and tell you they feel like God wants them to sow their seed into your ministry.
This is how it works. If they give $20, buy a set of bass strings and mark that off your list. If they give $50, purchase a speaker cable and mark that off your list. If they give $800, purchase a monitor, 3 par 64’s, and so on. If someone gives you twelve thousand dollars, cash the check before you mark anything off the list. Whatever they give, take that money and mark something off your list. You will find yourself constantly adding and removing the things you have desired. Again, you will be putting into practice Matthew 25:21, being faithful over the little so the Lord will make you ruler over much.
In the meantime, what do you have? I guess before you can figure that out, you need to know what you should be looking for. Look for any item that could possibly be used, traded, or sold to help you get your lighting and sound vision started. Clean out some of those church closets that have been filled with hidden treasures. Look through the attic or wherever your church stores all of its old things. Note: do not go through any other department’s things without permission. This will bring you much unnecessary suffering!. If your church doesn’t have one of these paradise islands, use one of the fundraisers you do to help get you started. Example, if you are doing a production of some sort, make it a dinner theater, take a love offering, or sell advertisement in a printed program.
Now, familiarize yourself with the things you have found. How much are they worth to you? How much are they really worth? Sometimes, we stumble across something old or cool and we feel that it should be featured on the Road Show, when in actuality it is just old or cool. Next, find a music store that trades – not only sells, but trades. Although endangered, there are some still remaining. Go to that store and make sure they carry the brand names of the products you want to purchase. Then get their best price. Do not stop there. Get more quotes from other stores. Take the lowest quote and return to the one that trades. Give them the lowest price you have found and usually, they will match that quote. When you get to this point it is time to trade.
Haggling is a must for trading. If you are not confident in your haggling abilities, STOP! There is something you must do first. Buy a newspaper, locate the garage sales near you; go on Friday if possible, or get up early on Saturday, and start shopping. Nothing will help you learn how to haggle better than garage sales. If you are married, take your wife; women are extremely gifted in this area. If you are a woman, skip this paragraph. Remember, you will not pay the marked price for anything, no matter how old or cool. Never offer more than half of the marked price for any item. If you’re gutsy, and the item is marked $10, offer them $3. Some of you are thinking that I’m crazy but trust me, this will help you immensely.
When your bartering skills are polished, go to a store that trades, tell them your lowest quote, and AFTER they’ve matched the quote or come very close, announce to them that you have some things you would like to trade. Make sure you take these items with you; they will want to see them. Then begin to haggle.
If you seem to have trouble closing the deal, let them know that if they treat you right you will do business with them in the future. Proprietors are like pastors, they are interested in committed customers / members more than they are undependable ones. There is other information that you can use to your advantage. Let them know what church you are from, and how many members attend weekly. Use what you have to get what you need.
Now that you have your final equipment quote, get approval and then make your purchase. Take that equipment and be faithful over it and God will make you ruler over more.
For instance, if you purchased lighting; there are several groups who need to rent lighting for plays, lock-ins, small productions, etc. You could rent your equipment (and a technician) to them for their project. Again, find out what the standard rental rates are and use that as a base for your price. Then, take that money and invest in more equipment. Before long, your production gear will increase dramatically. As the word gets out that you are renting your gear and that you do a great job, you will be surprised how many more people will want to rent from you. On that note, to protect your integrity, make sure you put together a rental agreement. Remember, you are non-profit. That means you have to place all of the money back into new gear. You are allowed to give your tech members a portion for their hard work but for your protection, make sure they sign a 1099 form.
Soapbox! Be a person of integrity. There is nothing worse, to a businessman or woman, than someone who cannot be trusted, especially someone in ministry. If you are going to build a lifelong business relationship, your word has to be your bond. I recall my father telling me that his banker used to loan money on a handshake. How many of us would like our banker to do that now? I can see hands going up all over the country. Wake up! They can’t. There were too many people whose handshakes weren’t an extension of their character, just merely an extension of their arm – thus, changing the rules for us all.
In Matthew 5:13 NIV Jesus states, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Although in 1 John 1:9 NIV John writes, “If we confess our sins, he (Christ) is faithful and just and will forgive us of our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Man cannot cleanse you and usually will not forgive you. Man is the best at speaking of forgiveness while harboring thoughts of bitterness. Keep in mind; you may be the only Jesus some will ever see.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me at the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org