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Questions about starting a religion-based production company...

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Jeff H.Questions about starting a religion-based production company...
by on Aug 27, 2005 at 11:17:45 pm

I am currently in college right now, but will graduate soon. I'm thinking of starting my own business within the next couple of years,and wondered if some of you would have advice for me.... I am primarily going for something that is religion-oriented that would work with local churches, youth groups, church schools, etc.; offering them everything from photography to video production & postproduction, to web design and publication design (such as posters, brochures, etc.)

Now I know there's not a lot of money to be had when working with groups such as these; but I would appreciate any advice regarding setting prices, promotion/marketing of the company, and just the whole business aspect... Are there any books that anyone of you would recommend?

Would working for churches and other such groups even pay off, since they wouldn't necessarily have a lot of money in their budgets? Any advice/info is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Jeff H.
college student
jeffhack@southslope.net


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Ron LindeboomRe: Questions about starting a religion-based production company...
by on Aug 28, 2005 at 12:57:00 am

Hello Jeff,

It sounds as if you are looking at a hard thing to do as a business. At least in my opinion and if other people's experience is to the contrary, I will defer to their greater knowledge. But that said, this is why I suspect it would be a tough business:

1. Churches that have the resources are quite likely to own their own studio set-up. This, as I see many faith-based organizations whose people frequent the Cow. Also, there seems to be a great growth in materials designed to be used in churches, etc.

2. Most youth groups I have ever seen are quite under-capitalized and work with with very low budgets. Those that do have larger budgets, often use their own people to create their multimedia and video materials.

By weighing those who already have equipment against those who likely cannot afford you and will need pro bono work, leaves a very small market to work with and a small chance of success. That does NOT mean that there is no chance but be prepared for a tough fight.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom


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Jeff H.Re: Questions about starting a religion-based production company...
by on Aug 28, 2005 at 1:59:45 am

Thanks for the info, Ron. I had the feeling it would be a hard business to pursue.... and, of course, things always sound better in your mind than on paper. lol Thanks again for your input.

Jeff H.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Questions about starting a religion-based production company...
by on Aug 28, 2005 at 4:42:58 am

Jeff, I see a couple areas where you as a younger beginner might get some traction:

1. Building motion graphics montages for use as support materials for worship applications. I'm thinking little custom music videos illustrating various scripture passages, psalms, gospel stories, etc. for use either in Sunday services, as a lead-in to a sermon, or as interstitials for broadcast/cable religious shows. This is something you can do in a basement studio on your own schedule and budget and market via internet nationwide, perhaps set up a business where you do them on a custom basis to order, or where you offer a "religious jump-backs" kind of thing, elements that don't go stale and can be used by a number of denominations. Needle-drop sermon warm-ups, if you will.

You know who does nice work like this, I have to say the LDS (Mormons) do some great PSA's on general topics like the importance of family, of a dedicated father figure, of charity to people you don't know, etc. Depending on budget, you could do smething ona similar laevel, or if you can't afford the cost, time, and logistics of shooting actors to illustrate the bits, you could go with 2-d or 3-d animation, or a more abstract, graphics-intensive approach. The huge mega-churches that are taking over sports stadiums and the like, could probably find multiple uses for such programming, in support of sermons and fundraising campaigns for various charity projects, sunday school, etc.

2.The religious equivalent of the young guy in the sports remote truck, roll from town to town with a revival, as a video roadie. You might try to get listed on several of the freelance crew rental lists, plug yourself as particularly suited to the religious stuff and available to work Sundays... (the most ironic part I think).



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TimRe: Questions about starting a religion-based production company...
by on Aug 28, 2005 at 6:07:50 pm

Hey Jeff,

You might also consider what I am doing.

I do a lot of work in the secular world...corporate stuff, commercials, etc. But I maintain realtionships with various religious groups so that I do no/lo pay jobs for them...sort of a tithing of my time, giving back to the community thing. It is very satisfying and you can do it on your own time, but also pay the bills when they come in because you are doing "paying work" as a day job.

One struggle with working with religious organizations that I have found...I had a really bad experience working with PAX TV and one of their groups a few years back...is that because it is their "ministry", they expect your working for them to be your "ministry" without consideration of the gear that you are trying to pay for, the kids you have put clothes on, and the mortgage that you have to pay.

So with that in mind...make it your ministry, but have the "day job" income to pay the bills, so that working with church groups can be the joy and blessing that it should be.

Tim Baker
Chameleon Mobile Video Productions
(239)849-3295
"It is not the light at the end of the tunnel that we should seek...it is the courage to take the next step in the dark that we must find."


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Jeff H.Re: Questions about starting a religion-based production company...
by on Aug 28, 2005 at 6:26:21 pm

Tim,

Thanks for your advice... that sure sounds like the best way to do things (in terms of paying the bills). My original idea was to work for a production house for a couple of years and do the work for churches on the side, and eventually start a company for doing specifially religious stuff. However I think this is a much better option, because I'm sort of "guaranteed" a paycheck this way, and can still give back to the community...

Jeff

PS. I really like the quote on your signature.


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TimRe: Questions about starting a religion-based production company...
by on Aug 28, 2005 at 7:48:33 pm

Thanks...about the quote...that is an original, too.

At least I will claim it until someone shows me someonelse that came up with it.

It came to mind once when I was talking to a youth group that I used work with...one of the kids asked me if I could see light at the end of the tunnel for things that were going on in the world at the time...I think one of which was the first Iraq War.

I just told them that it isn't the light that we need to seek at the end of our troubles...it was the courage to take the next step into darkness that we really needed.

Tim Baker
Chameleon Mobile Video Productions
(239)849-3295
"It is not the light at the end of the tunnel that we should seek...it is the courage to take the next step in the dark that we must find."


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Seth BloombaumRe: Questions about starting a religion-based production company...
by on Aug 28, 2005 at 4:43:34 pm

Jeff, as noted above there are many larger church and church-based organizations that offer employment. You might consider seeking a job as a first step in getting to know the market better.

I think Mark's idea is great as well. Make it once, sell it many times. To make this work you do need to invest time and perhaps money in advance of any income - why not start now, while you're in college? There may be resources available to you now that will cost you money later; why not make your next student project a paying proposition? A chance to get your feet wet and a little income could both be very good things.


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Everett BowesRe: Questions about starting a religion-based production company...
by on Aug 29, 2005 at 3:31:14 am

Jeff- I have been intimately involved with this type of work since 1995. Your question is a tough one to answer. I would venture to say that most people currently doing productions for sale to churches throughout the country struggle every day to determine whether or not there is enough money/demand to keep them in business.

I used to work with a company that made video products sold to churches throughout the united states. Currently, I own my own production company, largely specializing in productions for local churches.

(for that matter, let me know what your experience and abilities are, and maybe I can help find some work for you somewhere)

another way to "break into this" would be to seek out a church, and approach them with the idea of working for them wearing many hats. As I've seen it, any church that decides to begin using video will soon be overcome with the effectiveness of it, and only need it more. Therefore, you may start working at a church as an assistant to someone else, or youth pastor, and soon end up becoming the video specialist for that church.

Lots of christian organizations do productions for churches. check some of them out. Highway Video, Igniter Media, Willow Creek, Saddleback, Fellowship Church (in dallas), and more! Also, more churches these days are broadcasting their services on local or national channels. that's another venue for your creative efforts.

I'll stop for now- please write me or post here for more info...
everett
everett@everettbowes.com


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Richard ScottRe: Questions about starting a religion-based production company...
by on Sep 17, 2005 at 3:24:20 pm

Jeff, if you are a Christian and you are looking to start a religion based company for religious reasons then I would submit that you should to go where God calls you. If you want to start a video company and want Faith based organizations as your target client base then, as others have said, you might want to diversify.


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Allan Klingler / Teton Video ServicesRe: Questions about starting a religion-based production company...
by on Sep 17, 2005 at 8:39:37 pm

As far as churches as a client directly, in owning a video production company for nearly 10 years I have never had one solicit me for work. I have had several calls wanting to buy second hand used equipment for their own start up studios.

As far as that goes working with people directly for church weddings and Quinceaneras is probably more reasonable to break into, although frankly it is highly competitive on price and you will compete with well established people who have many thousands tied up in equipment resources who will make it intense to compete against in quality or price.

The LDS church has some truly remarkable and great commercials and TV productions if you have ever seen their work, it truly is world class. If I am not mistaken I believe that Bonneville Communications out of SLC UT does a good part of their work. You ought to call the toll free #s on their commercials and get one of the videos to watch sometime just to get a feel for what they do. You can learn a lot from observation of quality work in the field you want to serve.

Frankly, from my experience, I think you may be facing an uphill battle if you pursue only this small niche segment of the market in your business model. I would say focus on what you're good at, and talk to your clients. Word of mouth will get you in more doors and the diversity in your work will make you better at what you do. There is no sense in locking yourself into something so narrow that you will not be able to not be able to adapt quickly to changes in your customer base.

Allan Klingler
Teton Video Services





Find a good woman, treat her right. See life ain't so bad...


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Mark SuszkoRe: Questions about starting a religion-based production company...
by on Sep 17, 2005 at 9:31:51 pm

Where I live there ar at least three distinct stores that sell nothing but religious articles, books, and videos. Someone is buying these things and buying a lot of them. No reason he couldn't eventually produce something marketable on his own and market it. I would say it's the long hasrd way to modest riches, but you know, they were skeptical about "veggie tales" at first, too, and look whata breakout that became, I love those, and my kids do too.

Such an undertaking is a very ambitous project. It will take some time to find the right idea and create the show and market it. It would make thigns easier to team up with others who share the vision, or to apprentice under someone who's further along in the process. People of faith are exceptionally driven when they make one of these projects their "mission". That's good, you need the
persevereance. Just don't let your zeal overtake your business sense, make good, practical decisions as you go.


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