[:en]By Lydia McAulayAs a kid I was an avid watcher of Macgyver. For those of you who weren’t born in the 80s and aren’t familiar, Macgyver is a TV show about a guy named Macgyver who goes by his last name only: his first name is mysteriously never mentioned; his job is also a little mysterious – some kind of privatised spy operating on a budget. Macgyver is a resourceful poor man’s James Bond. No fancy gadgets, no guns. Every episode whilst pursuing bad guys, he finds himself in a scenario where he must use a combination of his wily intellect and the contents of his pocket to escape his captors and save/impress whichever pretty girl has stumbled into this situation with him.The contents of MacGyver’s Pocket (on average according to my childhood memory):
  • Paper clip and or safety pin
  • Pocket knife
  • Chewing gum
  • Piece of string/rope
  • Compass
  • 1 pen
MacGyverI’ve always been drawn to this idea of using what’s at hand, getting the job done and building something out of nothing. However, these days, those of us in the start-up community are inundated with news of lofty investment deals. The winning stories of applications like Yo (an app that allows you to say “Yo” to your friends who might be inclined to say “Yo” back to you) which got a few million US of investment sometime last year.There’s a giant phone shaped thing in every apartment complex’s elevator that plays video clips informing us during our trip to the upper floors about our potential cosmetic surgery needs. That got a tidy 100 million (and in our elevator was promptly vandalised). There are various apps and websites that have procured unimaginable amounts of money hoping to become the next Taobao, the next Jack Ma story.Jack Ma Quote never in lack of moneyWhat about the projects without a budget, what do you need have in your pocket?Things money can be replaced with:
  • Ideas, inspiration
  • Willing people / a team
  • Equipment
  • Experience
  • Time
  • Enthusiasm
  • Beer and snacks (which actually do cost money but are still vitally important to the process)
 What you gain from building something from nothing:
  • Friends
  • Collaboration
  • Sense of purpose/ sense of being you’re the captain of your own ship
  • Deep sense of pride at having achieved something against the odds.
  • You inspire others to do the same.
  • Beer and snacks (which actually do cost money but are still vitally important to the process)
  • In Macgyver’s case, his freedom and the dreamy looks of whichever girl he saved.
Over the past few years I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the most ambitiously bootstrapped projects. One absolute truth about living in China is there are a lot of people here.Filmpic film project ChengduOver the past few years I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the most ambitiously bootstrapped projects. One absolute truth about living in China is there are a lot of people here. Some of you may remember Cookin’ Chengdu about three years ago. This was a collaboration between five bars and one restaurant to create a music festival with nothing but their own blood, sweat, tears, elbow grease, favours from friends and spare change.The result: a two-day festival featuring food vendors, live bands, DJs. three stages and some friendly fire breathers from Yunnan. I manned the tickets gate and as a result discovered that warm fuzzy feeling somewhere in between the exhaustion and alcohol that some people describe as inspiration, others as insanity. I then went on to work on our very own zero budget project (zaomengshe.com), a music/culture/arts crowd-funding and ticketing platform. We’re two years in and, unlike other start-ups, have invested our time and effort rather than any actual money.Cookin ChengduDuring these two years hunched over our laptops, drinking beer and scratching our heads, we were fortunate enough to meet two nice filmmakers: Roberto Canuto and Xiaoxi Xu from Almost Red Studios.Initially we were discussing crowd-funding their upcoming short film project.I’m a major advocate of crowd funding as a solution to creative projects with cash flow problems. However, after breaking down the costs, we quickly came to the conclusion that actually the money wasn’t the biggest problem, the people involved were vitally important. Via WeChat we got the word out that we were seeking people to collaborate with us. Suddenly auditions were happening.We kept the location simple, at my house, conveniently my flatmate Lisa happens to be a hair stylist and movie make up artist. The experience of the two directors from Almost Red really shone through; many of us were amateurs on the film set, but under their instruction we all pulled together. The short film Floating Melon, around fifteen minutes long, was shot in three consecutive days with us all alternating between beer and coffee. The outcome the “Almost Red” boys lovingly and painstakingly edited together and then submitted to some film festivals in Spain. The film was selected by the 53rd Gijon International Film Festival.Things money was spent on for the short film project:
  • Beer
  • Snacks
  • Coffee
  • Props that couldn’t be borrowed
We’re all Macgyvering our way through life. These last few projects have taught me that if you have a few things in your pocket and you find a few friends with a few things in their pockets, you can Macgyver your way through some interesting projects. You don’t necessarily need to be James Bond and have sophisticated gadgets. You don’t necessarily need to have a big budget and fancy cameras, a whole team of developers or a fancy stage. In the end, the sense of achieving something against the odds makes it worth it. I urge all you Chengdu MacGyver’s out there to ignore money problems and go for it.I urge all you Chengdu MacGyver’s out there to ignore money problems and go for it.Film Project Chengdu[:]

Author: Adrien Chengdu-Expat

The "IT" of CD Expat Team.Also Photographer , Dj & Web Developer/DesignerIn Chengdu Since 2012.

CDIS China Chengdu

CDIS China Chengdu