donutsAm I serious? Can you really get $400 worth of rental gear for just five bucks? Yes, you can. And I have.

You see, it is not the five dollars that will get you the free gear. It is the thought behind those five dollars.

The act of saying "Thank You" to the people who control your destiny can be most valuable in the long run. For example, after the manager of a rental department has taken the time to meet with you and answer some questions, prepare a quote, or otherwise assist you -- let him/her know that you appreciate the gesture. Drop off a nice thank you note, and include some token munchies. Maybe a box of donuts or cookies, a pizza, a sixpack of ???, a bag of fast food burgers, holiday candies, etc.

It is not the size of the gift, but merely the act of delivering some token of your appreciation for the staff. They probably make a lot more money than most students, and know it. So no one is expecting anything expensive. And they probably don't really need the calories anyway! But the fact that you were thoughtful enough to bring them SOMETHING will set you apart from all the other students that they see in a year. And they WILL remember you.

Do not be surprised if one day you walk in and need to rent some equipment, but point out that you are hard for cash and can only afford a minimal package, and are then presented with way more than you could ever pay the invoice on! The Manager will smile, and claim that it is slow right now, and that they have plenty of gear on the shelves, and really are happy to help out a sincere student like yourself!

Am I making all this stuff up?

I recall the time that I went into Skyline Productions in Hollywood, while still a tadpole (although no longer a student), in order to rent just a bare Nagra recorder and a single microphone. $50 was all that I could budget; it was just a simple one-day gig interview with a then-famous actress. The owner (Dean Gilmore) asked who was being interviewed. I told him her name, and he just grinned. "That's my gal." (Dean had done numerous commercials with her, and I think even a movie or two.)

"I can't have you recording her looking like an amateur. Let me set you up with a full package: Nagra, mixer, cart, good mics, and all the trimmings."

"But I can't afford all of that. I can barely manage just the Nagra and one mic."

"Fred, you go out there and do me right. Trust me, one day you will working some big shows, and bringing us some big orders."

And so I packed my car with around four or five hundred a day's worth of sound gear. And only because the crew at Skyline liked me and respected me. All of the little token favors that I had done in the past paid off big right then and there.

So think hard about the people in your life that you need to befriend. The administrative staff in the university film department office, for instance. What have you done for them recently? The right keystrokes on their computer consoles hold more power than deans and department heads! When the university system leaves you screaming in frustration -- these under appreciated staffers know how to work the academic bureaucracy to move mountains on your behalf. Don't you think that the price of a few pastries is worth the investment? How much did you say you were spending per year on tuition!

And how about the staff in the equipment checkout room? When it comes to allocating the good stuff versus the ratty stuff, who do you imagine is going to be the lucky recipient?  How much does a bag of one dollar burgers cost?

Take care of the people who take care of you! Remember to always say "Thanks." 

To paraphrase Mario Puzo's Godfather, some day you may have to ask for a favor in return.