The Inner Workings Of Our Production Team

19 Jun 2015

From large auditoriums and arenas, to school halls and movie theatres, our production team serves across many different kinds of services and contexts. On a varying scale, our audio teams set out to:

• support our leadership & platform team as they seek to convey a timeless Message.
• remove distractions and create atmospheres that invite those that walk through the door to connect with our God.
• create opportunities that invite the use of gifts and talents to build His House.
• push the envelope in the use of technology, using it as a vehicle for creativity.
• grow our influence through excellence and innovation in our spheres of influence even outside the church environment, giving us a platform to reach those in these industries.

Our Challenges.

• Connection to the ‘why’ (and Who): the reality is, our teams run a high risk of being filled with much activity while being disconnected from the reason for the all the activity. We seek to remain Christ-followers first, then lighting directors, set designers, audio engineers etc. Whilst we cannot get away from call times, rehearsals, sound-checks, repairs and maintenance etc. our teams need to retain the capacity to listen to His voice to make sure that at every turn, we are ultimately heading in the direction He would have us go.

Training/scaling excellence: as good as growth is, it comes with the challenge of filtering through values, expectations and expertise through the various expressions of Creative Technology.
• e.g. New and upcoming FOH engineers need to learn how to deliver mixes and audio results at the expected standard, lighting teams need to learn to read a service and marry technical capability with creative expertise. Each team has a set of values to communicate and cultivate.

SEE ALSO: FOH Essentials For Every Sound Engineer

Future-proofing: the tech world is constantly evolving so designing systems that are cost-effective while carrying us into the future is quite the hurdle. Contrary to popular belief, we do not always need the latest or greatest. Rather, we need what will help us achieve and advance what we are about as church. Sounds simple, but understanding that there is an expectation and responsibility on us to be stewards of the resources afforded to us makes the biggest difference in our approach to adopting various technologies. In addition, our advancement in technology needs to be done with a long-term perspective. To invest in only what will get the job done today displays a lack of vision and foresight. If we buy a sound desk that accommodates our current band, knowing that my pastor would like an extra guitarist and more vocals on stage, is rather unwise.

Communication lines: It’s quite the challenge to filter information (the right information) to the right people as the team grows. We need contribution from all areas and to allow the best ideas to surface from every level of team. Leaders on team need to do what they can to remain accessible to their teams. However, the rise or fall of any team needs to rest on more than one person and thus the need for mentoring and clear structure within teams.

Venues: as we grow, we find ourselves in leased or hired venues that offer less than adequate and unpredictable environments and systems.
• e.g. faulty PAs, inadequate lighting systems, limited venue access, week to week set up and pack down etc.

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Our Approach

Communicate the ‘why’: Communicate this clearly, communicate it often. An understanding of the ‘why’ will keep the team focussed when the activity seeks to overwhelm and take our eyes off why we started this in the first place. We need great lighting and FOH mixes but when they are disconnected from the ‘why’, we open the door for selfish agendas and we risk compromising our unity. As passionate as we may be about our particular areas, there comes a time when we all have to lay aside our personal preferences for the sake of the greater good. It is in these times when we need a team that understands the primary reason of doing what we do.

Mentoring/training: Executing my role (e.g. as a FOH engineer) is only half of the expectation. The other half involves bringing someone along the journey with me, taking time to invest into them along the way. Training needs to be something that is carried by everyone on team. At every level there is someone who could benefit from what you or I know.

SEE ALSO: 10 Ways to be a Better Audio Engineer

Staying current: Constant exposure to what is happening in the tech world is vital. Blogs, forums, social media, product releases/demos, concerts, trade shows, etc… all these offer exposure to new/fresh products and ideas. We need to understand that we all (even as a primarily technical team) have responsibility to advance the gospel on every front, constantly looking for new avenues that can carry the message out to the greater world.

Connecting the right people: We don’t necessarily need more meetings but we do need to connect the right people. Fostering environments where the right conversations are had. We seek to structure interactions that allow for ideas and thoughts to be captured from every level of team.

We always love some good conversation, so please leave your comments below. We would love to know how each of these points translate on your teams.

Mush Gateri
Hillsong Production Team Oversight

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