Weekly Production Team Schedule
Like most other churches, the COTMProd staff operates on a weekly rotation with all calendars and schedules starting on a Monday and culminating on a Sunday. Even though we have many events during a given week, for us, all roads lead to the weekend. Here’s a breakdown of a typical week:
As a general rule, I try to have all staff and interns take this day off to catch up on sleep, hang with the family, run errands, loaf, whatever, as long as it doesn’t involve thinking about work. In an effort to keep this day sacred, I try to avoid sending emails and texts to them so their head isn’t continually being brought back to work. It requires vigilance to keep this day free and somewhat sacred for the COTMProd team. For this reason, I invest some measure of time “helping” other departments avoid Monday’s when they are scheduling events that may require our involvement.
As for me, I usually spend Monday mornings with the Creative team as they work through upcoming event details, brainstorm on different ideas, or evaluate a previous weekend or event. Their topics can get quite broad, but the time spent with them has been invaluable in that I stay connected to the overall creative and leadership direction. I’ll spend the remainder of the day on my own, strategizing and planning for what’s coming up next for my own team. More often than not, this is usually the most productive day of my week.
When we have come off of a particularly crazy weekend or string of events, I will do everything possible to give the team this day off as well. Although it doesn’t happen as much as I would like, since most of our days can be 12 to 15-hour days, any extra time away from the job is a plus.
This day has proven to be the best day for me to take off and get away. Having already met with the Creative team and then conducting my own strategy session the day before, getting to turn my brain off on Tuesday is a welcome change.
This is when we actively start our slow burn up into the weekend. Everyone stays scheduled fairly heavily from here on out. Here’s what we usually get started on:
- Stage gear maintenance, cleaning, and repairs (set carts/band gear/backstage space/stage surface itself)
- Audio repairs and maintenance: with a predominantly analogue audio system in our main room, audio maintenance is king.
- Lighting maintenance and design tweaks
- Video maintenance
- Computer maintenance: as most other churches, our computers are the backbone of our presentation systems so keeping them happy is a requirement.
- Projects: there are always build-out projects, remodeling, fabrication, and the like that are on-going regardless of our event load.
This night is our weekend band rehearsals for both campuses, so in addition to continuing some of the maintenance and project items we started working on the day before, we are sorting out weekend stage layouts, runsheet info, and any video/graphic resources needed for rehearsal. My deadline for all the final weekend content is the end of this day anyway, so locking in on a definitive roadmap prior to rehearsal isn’t that rough. By the end of the rehearsal, I’ve noted all changes/additions to the original plan and we’ve secured an accurate recording of all the songs.
Since most of the creative team take this day off, it’s safe to assume that most of the weekend details are a lock from the creative side. Armed with this info, we can get rocking on tightening up all of our weekend production details. Here’s what we’re focused on:
- Continuing the maintenance/projects started on Wednesday
- I’ve finalized the overall plan and noted anything out of the ordinary for our Lighting Designer so he can start programming the event.
- Runsheet details finalized and ready for print/email distribution
- Stage is given a final inspection and cleaning
- Weekend Evaluation: frank evaluation with our V.D., L.D. and anyone else needed to review wins and misses from the previous weekend.
- Cue Rehearsal: intentional dialogue with V.D. and L.D. to ensure that video and lighting are working in sync with each other.
Normally everyone enjoys a brief respite by having Saturday morning off. Crew call is usually around 2:30pm with the full band starting at 3:30pm. Only having an hour to get ready for the band might sound short, but remember we left on Friday ready to rock. For the most part, this hour long crew call gives us time to do a quick audio line check, ensures that everything powered back up happy, and verify that all wireless products have fresh batteries and are ready to go.
After the service, I meet again with our Live Video Director and Lighting Designer to evaluate what we just did. We watch/listen to the service to make sure we hit the mark and determine what adjustments may need to be made for the next day.
Crew call is at 7:30am. It’s Groundhog Day to a certain extent as the crew does another full line check and gear inspection to make sure none of it has decided to hate us overnight. The biggest challenge for Sunday is that we use a completely different camera crew. The pressure is definitely on as they only have about 45 minutes with the Live Video Director to watch the recording from the previous night and receive their shot instructions. From there, we do another full run-through on stage with the band to make sure everything is consistent and up to par.
After the services, the crew gets things stowed away and neatened up so they can be on their way. It’s fairly common for us to have some type of Sunday night event that COTMProd is involved in, so while some of the crew may be done for the week, a few might stick around through the afternoon or have to return for some type of event that night. I stay with our Live Video Editor to make sure all of our elements get edited, mastered, and uploaded properly to iTunes and Vimeo. Only after this is accomplished does it feel like we are truly finished.
Overall, the key to making our weekly schedule not feel grueling is being prepared and staying organized (I’ll be blogging specifics about how we stay organized in a few weeks). It’s definitely always going to be a work in progress but for the point we’re at now, it feels like we’re able to serve the needs of the church to the highest degree possible as well as making sure the team has every opportunity to have a life.