Tracy Garrity, Event Producer, concludes her 9-part series on producing exceptional events and event management, insight for the Marketing and Sales Leader.
When I first started in this industry, I had a very wise boss who told me that by the time a good Producer arrives on-site, there is nothing for them to do but sit back and enjoy the show. “You are the guy who brings the ice to the party,” he told me. “Everything else is ready to go. It’s the last thing you need and the one thing everyone else forgets.”After 30 years of production, his advice still holds. If I’ve done my job - from setting realistic expectations, through message-centric creative collaboration and ultimately by creating a team who can imagine, execute and enhance the various production elements – then there is no reason why I can’t relax and enjoy the show.
This may be a little idealistic because changes are always a part of the process – especially on-site. But then again, it’s all in the preparation. The more prepared you are, the easier the change is to integrate.
There is no discounting the importance of the team in this equation. Through the years I’ve developed a team of experienced, elite partners who collaborate at every level and never let me down. I am a big believer in Stage Managers who do nothing but call shows on a daily basis and credit them for the crew’s ability to respond quickly and creatively to the dynamic live environment.
There are always things that are going to take you by surprise. I remember a few years ago sitting at the control table during walk-in on a show for one of my favorite clients. We’d had a great first day and were looking forward to an impactful Day Two. Every element was rehearsed and we had one of the industry’s best stage managers (Laurie Piel) at the helm. We started to see these little red points of light dot the ceiling. A terrible thought occurred to us: did they just hand out laser pointers to our audience? They did. And let’s face it, no one can resist picking them up and pointing them. At first we sat there, stunned, as 800 laser pointers came to life. Luckily, this is a client and a team with a great sense of humor. So after the stunned silence we burst into laughter before we all pow-wowed in the back of the ballroom. We were prepared for everything else, and were able to use the ten remaining minutes of walk-in to implement a great solution.
We had opened the show the day before with a spectacular laser show (thank you Beamin Lasers). We decided to open Day 2 with the same piece of music (edited shorter) and let the audience have a shot at their own laser show. We created a brief script for our host, dimmed the lights and watched as 800 lasers roamed the room for about twenty seconds. Then we brought the lights back up on our host and got back into the meeting.
However, there’s always one...there’s always one guy who just can’t let it go or leave it alone. Our host, the brilliant and infoilible Mark Cordis, could clearly see the beam coming from the audience. He looked at the screen and saw the laser pointer on his forehead. “My goodness,” said Mark, “I feel like I’m hunting with Dick Cheney.” The laser went off and we never had another incident.
My point (so to speak) is that we were able to be relaxed enough during the show to enjoy the humor in the moment and then come up with an effective solution. And there were several effective solutions, both in front of and behind the curtain. We were prepared and covered - and able to enjoy the show.
On-site is where it all comes together. It’s the synergistic blending of a diverse group of talents and passions who work together with one goal; flawlessly execute on a detailed plan that the Producer has had a part in creating. To boldly go where no man has gone before. This is the essence of a live event. It will happen one time. You have one chance to get it not only right – but perfect. And when it’s perfect, it’s magical.
What is left to ...but enjoy?Tracy Garrity is a freelance Event Producer who is connected to the best partners in the industry, cultivated through almost thirty years of production experience world-wide.
Part 8: Creative Collaboration
Part 1: What's Inside?