Here are a few things to keep in mind while renting backdrops. More specifically, here are a few things you shouldn’t do when renting backdrops. The big thing to remember is that you don’t own the backdrops. Treat them as if you did, but remember that they are not yours and that other customers are waiting to possibly use the backdrops after you are finished renting them. They want the backdrops in as mint condition as possible for their shows too. So with that being said, here are some hints to avoid any damage and extra fees.
DO NOT nail, staple, tack, or pin the backdrops in any way. It says this right on the contract! Here’s what happens. Nails, staples, tacks, and pins create holes. The stress of the weight could rip that pin and create a huge problem. Over time, the small holes from the pins and staples add up deteriorating the integrity of the fabric. So no adding company logos or cardboard cutouts such as stars or clouds directly to the backdrops. And no adding Velcro pieces either.
DO NOT cut or alter the backdrops in any way. Again, it says this right on the contract. Believe it or not, we have received backdrops back from customers literally cut into pieces. We have also had backdrops returned with new additions painted on the backdrop that were not on the original design. Remember, you don’t own these. If the backdrop you see on our website does not fit your needs, then ask us if we have something else. Do not take it upon yourself to change it because you think it would look better with your idea on it. We design our drops to fit a myriad of different shows to satisfy as many customers as possible.
DO NOT lay the backdrops face down on the stage. This was covered in a previous blog entry, but it can be mentioned again. Always place the backdrops face up for hanging and folding. This keeps the painted side clean. On this note, DO NOT forget to sweep your stage before you lay the backdrops on the stage. The backdrops are not to be used as a broom to sweep your stage.
If you need to add rope extensions to hang the backdrop, DO NOT forget to remove them when you are done. Also, leave the original tie lines attached to the backdrop, which leads to my next point. DO NOT cut off the original tie lines when removing the backdrop from the pipe. There’s no need to tie sailor knots that are impossible to untie. Simply tie the lines like a shoelace. There are typically 40+ ties per backdrop. The shoelace knots will hold.
While we’re talking about hanging the backdrops, if you need to use a cherry picker to hang the backdrop, DO NOT let the backdrop hit any of the greased parts on the machine. Grease is impossible to remove or camouflage especially if you’re using a white scrim or cyclorama curtain. Make sure there’s a person on the ground monitoring this.
Lastly, DO NOT get too close to the backdrops when they are hanging. Performers should not get too close to the backdrops while on stage. We don’t want them tripping over or grabbing on to the backdrops for fear that someone could get hurt. If you have built sets, try to keep them as far away from the backdrop as possible. When I get a backdrop back with a large rip on it, it is usually because it got caught on a built set, or it caught on the strip lights up high. So, if you can help it, place your built sets as far away from the backdrops as possible and hang the backdrops as far away from the strip lights as you can so that they can’t get caught on that either. I know it happens. Just be wary of it.
These are basics to help keep our backdrops in good condition. We know that 99% of the time any damage occurs it is not intentional. We simply want our backdrops to last and to be in great condition for as long as possible and for as many customers as possible.