Monday, 21 December 2009

10 Hot Tips for Production Management

I am occasionally asked what are some key tips, in simple terms, for running a good event from the technical point of view. Here are my top 10:

1. Anticipate. This is without question the key to good production management. Try to visualize everything that will be happening during your event. Walk through the entire event from start to finish in your head, including where and when guests and performers will be moving. If anything looks like it might be wrong or even has the potential to go wrong, address it before the event, because it probably will go wrong if you don't.

2. Ensure that power and staging are adequate and in place well before the rest of the technical setup. The last thing you want is for technicians and decorators tripping over venue staff trying to put a stage in place or waiting for power that should have been installed hours ago. Besides that, venues will often charge more for such items as power if it is requested onsite.

3. Allow ample time for setup. This is frequently where inexperience causes disasters. There are just too many small things that can get off-track if people must work within a serious time crunch. It is far better to be too early and wait around than to still be doing a sound check as guests enter the event space.

4. Keep updated and firm schedules of setup, event running order, and strike. Stick to the schedules and ensure that all people involved with the event are on the distribution list. This includes venue staff, performers, all technical people, and of course, your client.

5. Know all requirements and technical riders for performers and suppliers. This can include everything from stage plots and sound and lighting requirements, to dressing room riders. Be aware of the excessive riders of some celebrity talent and try to negotiate out all except what is reasonable.

6. Ensure that there are dressing rooms of adequate size and privacy for performers. Don't forget that some shows require quick-change areas close to the main stage such as dance shows where fast costume changes are part of the show. Be prepared to pay extra to set these up properly.

7. Ensure you have adequate and capable stage management in place to run the show. In addition, ensure that adequate communication equipment is available for the stage managers. The best kind is wireless headset equipment like Clearcom which enables you to talk and listen without anyone else hearing the conversation and to move about the venue freely and still be in communication.

8. Rehearse your show whenever possible. Even the smallest show can benefit from some kind of quick run-through. If the show and event is complex, plan for at least a pre-event talk-through with the key participants, including venue staff, performers, sound and lighting techs, and client.

9. Have contingencies in place for any unavoidable changes. Know how to react and what you will do before they happen. This goes along with anticipation but is the last and unfortunately very important step. For example, know how to compensate for a performer who is late or does not show up. Having a plan just may save you from disaster. Try to see through the rough spots and keep smiling.

10. Use an individual or company that is conversant with the production of complex events if you feel you are in over your head. This will save much stress!