22 August 2011

24.08.11 - Bang the Drum

Project Assistant

This job is ongoing and has given me much more responsibility in terms of managing the project as a whole and given me a crash course in managing clients expectations.
Recruiting a brass band to play before a football match is not the trickiest of tasks, infact it was mainly done by delegating the sourcing of band members to industry contacts. Finding someone to sing along with the musicians has proved a stumbling block for me for the last fortnight. I am expecting to find someone by the end of the week, and it's about time as I had hoped to fill this position last week in time for the first match at the Etihad Stadium. I hadn't found anyone but tried to reassure the client things would come together as my friends were at the match and I had hoped they would help me out as I pleaded with them to get round the stadium and lend me their voices for half an hour. In the end, they didn't make it round and we entered the stadium without them, meaning the band was relying on surprised fans to join in this new experience. It came together at times but there were largely gawping looks and smiling faces instead of raucous, infectious singing.
I was suitably reminded in the office that I needed to carefully mind how I speak to the client as I can inadvertently raise expectations and point blank sell them something that quite simply did not happen.
I thoroughly relish the opportunity I have with this role and stepping up to this level of responsibility has been insightful, I just hope I do not make any more mistakes of a similar ilk as the possible avenues the project can take are exciting.

08.08.11 - Juke Joint

Southern Comfort Brand Activation at The Big Chill. This was the brand's first presence at a music festival. The concert itself was very quiet, supposedly only a third of the allocated tickets had been sold and this, coupled with the head-scratching programming made for a relaxed week in the rolling hills of Herefordshire.

When de-rigging the site after closing time on Sunday night, a punter stopped to chat to me about how to get involved with events. I realised this was mea few months ago and stopped ripping up carpets for a few minutes to give him some points of interest and potential ways to find ideal local agencies.

01.08.11 - Kendal Calling

(© Hannah Cordingley, photos.kendalcalling.co.uk)

Production Assistant at the award-winning independent festival. Being responsible for certain aspects of the site eg steel store and rounding up golf buggies were defined tasks. On the last night when two buggies broke down, I had to coordinate a rescue mission for them as many were in use and they were at different sides of the site and in public areas.

24.07.11 - Ben and Jerry's Double Scoop Sundae

(© Phil King, www.mudkiss.com)

Stage Manager at the two-day event in Heaton Park, Manchester.
This weekend's gig presented itself as a perfect opportunity for a first-time Stage Manager like myself. The change-over times were plentiful and the technical set-up of each rider was basic. The bands who required drum-kits even set everything up themselves which was a bonus as I got to watch incase I need to do it in the future.
The sun was beaming and there was lots of free ice-cream which put everyone in a great mood to begin with. The bands performing on my band stand were all down to earth and easy going. I used my powers of delegation to full effect, taking advantage of a plentiful site crew and an eager collection of work-experience volunteers to overcome any issues I was faced with.
A Particular highlight was seeing Joe McAdam, who I usually de-rig stages with, perform a number of covers and a few of his own tracks to the sun-kissed crowd. Also, not having to travel anywhere by foot was a bonus - I had a golf buggy at my disposal which I milked.

18.07.11 - Latitude

Latitude was a festival unlike any other I had previously experienced; An arts and culture festival - music took equal billing with comedians, poets and performers in what was an engaging week. It brought me into contact with many acts and performers, a few of whom I would normally only read reviews on but the the vast majority I never knew existed.
The Magners Brand Activation was a success. It was my first time working on such an event. I arrived Wednesday and the site was pretty much complete - I just helped with the finishing decor touches. I did not feel completely in the loop because I had not been involved in the pre-build of the site. Having been involved in almost every aspect of the Bench gig a couple of weeks earlier, I know I prefer having extensive knowledge of all aspects of the job - it certainly helps when conversing with clients and helping give a good, knowledgeable impression.
My experience in promotions was beneficial as I had no problem staying attentive and polite to the audience for hours on end. The de-rig involved the use of power tools which is always enjoyable but the drive home took forever. If I ever have to drive such a long distance in the future, I will make a few notes of important junctions as co-drivers cannot always be relied upon to stay awake.

03.07.11 - Jodrell Bank, Transmission 001

(© Bart Prettman, photos.jodrellbanklive.co.uk)

Yesterday's 22-hours on-site was a hugely successful day for all the parties involved - the organisers, the bands, the fans and myself. An intensely sunny day was matched by successful sound-checks, champion change-overs and a thrilling end to Transmission 001.
This was the first time I had encountered professional roadies. These guys really inspired me to give every gig my full efforts. They had begun load-in before I got to site at 7am and had been in Cornwall the night before. They were off to Canada straight after the show tonight and it was good to see how they structured their day. They were all hands on deck for a couple of hours and then retreated to the tour bus for rest. They came back refreshed and their energy and excitement for the show was contagious. They all spoke with enthusiasm and had plenty to talk about when they had a spare few minutes. I guess some of it comes off the back of their experience. Only one of the roadies was my age, the others were all almost 30 or over.

20 August 2011

03.06.11 - Bench AW11

Tanzaro House is a building full of character, and I believe one of Manchester's hidden gems. It proudly overlooks Ardwick Green Park and is full of original features. My fascination with architecture stems into my original reasons for studying Advertising and Brand Management.
I believe behaviour can be greatly affected by peoples surroundings, and manufacturing and/or exploiting surroundings to affect people in a way that is beneficial to a brand is basically what this aspect of the event industry entails.
There are many different environments people find themselves in on a daily basis and people act accordingly in different places and there are many different levels of accepted social norm in places - all of which is making me think I should maybe have applied to study Architecture or maybe Social Sciences? I picked Branding because it is what I have had most exposure to - reading the features gained in trend based magazines/websites and appreciating places, buildings and spaces - new and old - when traveling.

The job at Tanzaro House did not revolve much around the building's innate charm; the client works in this space 365 days a year and so a pop-up club/presentation space appeared in the middle of the showroom - complete with DJ, soundsystem, visuals and projections. This was removed in time for Thursday and Fridays catwalk which introduced the next season's range. My role for those last two days was catering and cleaning-up, overseeing the whole event and being on-hand should a problem occur.

This particular project was a small one in comparison to the previous catalogue of events the agency has done for Bench. Understanding and knowing a clients history is key in knowing what will work and how to smooth over issues that arise. I also realised the importance of delivering an experience that fit into the clients needs but did not go above and beyond (it simply wasn't financially possible). It was also unnecessary here. Wanting to push boundaries and take things to the next level is always something people want to be involved in but it cannot happen every week. Doing jobs properly and having the luxury of a strong relationship bodes well for both parties, especially when both know that when the time is right, great collaborations can push forward both companies. Last year, a spectacular show at Gorton Monastry which announced the brand's ambition in a surprising and extravagant way.

27.06.11 - Chair TV

(© JK Green, www.chairtv.com)

I had been instructed to draft in a highly experienced VJ for the Bench fashion show. I spent most of Monday discussing visual ideas with the artist and supplying him with material to work with. I particularly enjoyed today as I was liasing with a contractor and I felt a huge responsibility as the 'wow factor' of the whole job rested squarely on this aspect of the show.

24.06.11 - MCFC LA

Week 3 saw me asked to be in the office all week, rather than just the three days I was doing as I balanced part-time work in retail with the placement.
Tuesday morning was particular exciting and was the first time a director had given me work to do. As one may expect with a job directly from the companies founder, there was not a lot of time to play with - two hours to be precise. I had been briefed on Monday to go away and research six prospective locations for an A-list party in Los Angeles on behalf of Manchester City as they were competing in a pre-season tournament in the States. I handed in my conclusions on Tuesday and an hour later, was asked if this could be put into a presentation which was then going to be used in a transatlantic conference between MCFC, EttG and the American agency involved.
A graphic designer is usually commissioned to create such pieces of work as they are of the highest standard and this was a valuable and high-profile pitch.
I did a first draft within 45 minutes and took it straight to the director for feedback. I was apprehensive as I had only seen internal presentations and tried to stick to the format I had been exposed to. I was instantly given honest advice and direction to make the work look more aesthetically pleasing and given a colour scheme to work with. I started over and completed the work with minutes before the meeting started. As the document was being made into PDF, I spotted some mistakes and a misplaced picture. It was too late to make amendments but the director looked past these minor mistakes and was pleased with the end result given the turn around time.

Also this week was another company meeting. This time, it included a presentation from a member of staff along with the usual figures, results and predictions. Their topic was photography and I, having recently purchased a DSLR, learnt much about the basic principles and also first hand about their passion and enthusiasm which I could relate to.

I also made a follow up site-visit with another director to the head office of Bench. This was in-part due to a project manager's vacation and the fact it was less than a week away until the event and there had been no proposed budget. What was supposed to be a flying visit turned into a jam packed afternoon of ideas, quotes, and then a whole new set of ideas and quotes - all done whilst pacing around the Bench showroom and always in conversation with at least four people at once.

The end of the week saw much desk work as I had to find saving in the Bench proposal and finalise deliveries for the Jodrell gig.

17.06.11 - Week Two

Found myself really getting stuck into work this week. The upcoming Jodrell Bank gig sold out weeks ago but none of the contractors have been organised and it is my job to do it. Definitely felt like I dived in the deep end. The Project Manager is not in the office and I am reporting to an individual who has been drafted in on a temporary basis to help manage the workload for this particular job.
I've constantly been on the phone getting quotes and sending more emails per day than I ever have before. This has made me organise my inbox carefully so I did not miss or forget about messages.
I was too nervous to make my first call for a quote in the office. Everyone sits round a large table and if there is no conversation, it really feels as though everyone is listening. I was certainly listening to everyones else's calls last week - probably because I didn't have much else to do apart from browse documents from the last decade of the agency's work. I went home for lunch and made my first call for a quote from there. It was not necessarily the calling and asking for a quote which made me nervous, but not knowing exactly what I was after in some cases. I was asked to get 40 meters of trackway to the site and installed for two weeks. There were so many different varieties and I looked into the possibility of purchasing trackway as the price did not seem to dissimilar. After a discussion with the other project assistant on the matter, I hadn't factored the storage and labour cost of handling the trackway and delivering it - it is very heavy duty stuff and a dedicated team can lay it in under an hour, it would take me and a rigger the best part of a day.
After I had made my initial call from home, I felt reassured I would be as clear and confident back in the office.

17 August 2011

13.06.11 - Parklife

(© Joseph T Denyer, www.residentadvisor.net)

Working in events has certain perks, mainly going to the events the agency is involved with. I didn't have a ticket to Parklife (now in it's second year and again sold-out), but on Friday, I was asked if I wanted to help with data collection (conducting questionnaires)for a few hours on-site at Platt Fields Park. By the end of the day, my services were needed elsewhere, and I was given the chance to work back-stage as Assistant Stage Manager.
I accepted the role, excited and nervous as whilst I knew I would be under supervision, I had little technical knowledge of the tent and all the equipment within it and I didn't even recognise all the DJ's names on the line-up - what if I got people's names wrong! 
Stage managing is mainly delegation and problem solving. There's lots of hands to make any job light work and specialists are on hand to give advice on subjects that need professional input but to ensure all this runs smoothly and impressively for the audience and also the artists behind the stage, constant focus and assertiveness is required and I saw the Stage Manager take precautions to avoid potential problems, deal with hiccups with ease and keep everyone happy, front and back of house.
On Sunday, unforeseen circumstances meant I ended up taking charge of the stage, which was the largest tent on the festival site. I was greeting headline artists, explaining timings and liaising with sound, lighting and video technicians. I dealt with security issues and was in direct contact with event control throughout the day, ensuring everything ran to plan, including a change over which saw the RNCM's 60-piece orchestra take to the stage in under ten minutes.
The music in my tent stopped at 2359hrs, perfectly in time with the 0000 curfew.

16 August 2011

06.06.2011 - Day One

I had to report to Ear to the Ground's office at 9am for an induction meeting with the office manager.
The company rules: Listen, Create, Engage, Amplify, Control and Evaluate were discussed along with health and safety procedures and a briefing on the companies ISO14001, ISO9001 and OHSAS 18001 requirements. These voluntary and highly regarded industry standardising management systems allows companies to prove they act in a responsible manner in both environmental and quality of management.
An introduction to the remote workspace was given although it was admitted that the best way to understand it was to get to grips with it. I was promptly shown to a desk, equipped with a laptop and given my log-in credentials.