Recently one of my regular clients made the observation that I seem to place great importance on the attitude of my crew. I asked “What do you mean?” She responded with “you seem to hire staff with a can do, polite and friendly approach before all else. Even before technical ability”.
She is spot on! I did not realise that I did this but it makes total sense.
When I put a crew together for corporate events, I think how can I create the smoothest, easiest possible experience for me, and the client/s (in that order). That means I need people who share my values first, supported by technical ability.
We are in a unique situation where we have severe time restraints, combined with high pressure and many stakeholders. As well as the client, we work with the venue, the entertainment and so on. We need to get on.
When I hear of techo’s who are condescending, or rude to colleagues, clients, performers, venue staff, and the public etc, I wonder why are they doing this? The reason I wonder is because none of this is new. This not the first or last unorganised client, the first or last muso with strange ideas on how it should sound, the venue will put chairs in our way, and we know the DJ will redline the desk and so on. So we should not be surprised.
If we are professionals, we take all of this in our stride. That is what professionals do.
Many entertainers are inherently insecure, especially those who are new to performing. They can feel exposed and many worry that their performance may not live up to expectations. A crew with a positive, mindful attitude creates a comfortable and “safe” environment, freeing them up to concentrate on what is important.
The crew are there to support a successful gig, especially when things go pear shaped.
About 12 years ago, I was involved in a Government Awards show at Parliament House and the production client who I’ll call John, was well and truly out of his depth… he shouldn’t have been there. This was a high profile gig with many VIP’s and it was not going well.
Just 10 minutes in and it was obvious we were witnessing one the worst events in our careers. The wrong winner videos were being played, scripts were missing, the high profile MC was furious and looking for guidance, the end client was freaking out. As I watched this train wreck unfold, I could see things were going from bad to worse and John did not have the skills to recover and was getting increasingly flustered.
I offered to take over running of the show. Absolutely not my gig but I figured it could not get any worse, I could settle things down and hopefully we’ll get paid!
John jumped at my offer. I called a break and we regrouped, made a plan and restarted the show. It was not great, but we got through the night… just. John was grateful that we managed to resurrect a reasonable result.
Now here is the thing. 12 years later John is now a very competent producer in a large company with some great clients and decent gigs. He is also still my client, as is the large company, probably because he has not forgotten the part we played in saving his career that night.
How you treat people now, will affect your career down the track because you never know where people end up.
Of course none of this applies to DJ’s. They really piss me off and deserve everything they get!!
This article first appeared in the print edition of CX Magazine November 2017, p.53. CX Magazine is Australia and New Zealand’s only publication dedicated to entertainment technology news and issues since 1991. Read all editions for free or search our archive for stories, people, tech-tips, products and production reviews www.cxnetwork.com.au