In the past, we let you in on the keys to success in the life of an event coordinator. But now, the interns put a spotlight on what it takes to be on-site as a Production Assistant. At first, the role as a PA on-site seems broad and daunting. You have assisted the producers and coordinators in the office for the weeks and months prior; ordering props, making phone calls and organizing spreadsheets. But now it is time to see everyone’s hard work come to life on-site.
Before going on-site the office gave me the following advice:
1.“Bring layers, the convention centers are always cold”: Doesn’t matter if you are going to San Antonio where the weather is 120 degrees, or Toronto where it is barely above freezing, pack your biggest cardigan and softest scarf ALWAYS. Just keep in mind that the PA is there to run errands and track down office supplies and props, so always dress in layers for your constant trips in and out of air conditioned hotels and convention centers to the outdoors.
2.”Wear comfy shoes, do not wear your new flats”: This is not a drill!! On-site you will be working 12 hours days, and logging at least 20,000 steps on your fitbit. Pack your black nikes and wear them with pride.
Now that I have been on a couple events myself, here are some of the things I have learned:
1.Take advice from literally everyone. Every member of the crew has been in your shoes before and been new to the world of production. Learn the important lingo from them, along with their organization and backstage tips.
2. Always have a smile on your face and be willing to talk to everyone from the janitor to the manager, because you never know what they can do to make your time on-site easier
3. Be creative. Get ready to think outside the box in order to problem solve. Shipments arrive late, supplies runs out after store hours, clients make last minute changes, and you need to be ready to think on your feet and be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
4. Offer everyone on-site something to drink or eat before you do, because you’re there to make everyone’s job easier. And the crew will have an easier time doing their job if they’re fed.
5. If you’re not busy running around, take a chance to listen to the cues on headset so that you can learn about other aspects of the event, like graphics or audio.
6. Everyone hugs. EVERYONE.
7. Get used to waking up early and getting ready FAST, 5 am crew calls are not a joke
8. Bring a flashlight, or make sure to pack one in the PA kit. While producers and coordinators are discussing cues over headset, you will most likely be leading alent or executives in the dark backstage, so keep a flashlight handy so that 1. No one gets hurt, and 2. No one trips over one of the important wires that keep the event running.
9. Always take the wrapper off the water bottles, and always have water bottles stocked backstage
10. Last but not least…. Being on headset and being on-site is contagious. Once you work on one event, you’ll most likely want to work on more!
In honor of FLIRT’s 9th birthday we will be talking about the 9 lives of an event coordinator. The life of an event coordinator or production manager is not a simple stroll through the park. The days are long, but the nights even longer. It is highly challenging and highly rewarding. You need to be constantly expecting the unexpected, because just about anything is possible within the production world (ask us about the fishbowl story sometime). We asked FLIRT’s in house producers the following question: What are the 9 things you couldn’t live without when on the job? Their answers might surprise you! See below:
You might say that the smartphone is the right arm of an event producer. Texts, calls, emails, zooming in on an updated floor plan – it takes a lot of battery when you’re running a show. An event producer always has a second and third back up plan, so a portable charger and backup battery is always close by.
Some might call this the key ingredient to our success. When on-site there is no time to lay around and soak up the sun. You need to be constantly on the move and energized even if you’ve failed to get any sleep the night before. Coffee is the production manager’s fuel and afternoon coffee runs are the key to their hearts.
Digital or hardcopy, having a well-organized show book is key to putting on a successful event. The book contains anything and everything you need to know about the event. From the rehearsal schedule, contact list, security schedule, floor plan, event schedule, and everything else in between, the Show Book is where to find it.
Now the PA Kit is nothing to mess around with. The Show Book might have all the information you need, but the PA Kit has everything you might need and more (including twizzlers). The PA Kit not only has the necessary equipment for the event but also contains a makeup kit, safety kit, and not one but two office supply kits. The PA Kit is kind of a big deal.
Having plenty of gum or mints at the event is critical not only for yourself but for the people around you. We mentioned how much event producers love coffee right? Gum and mints, my friends, gum and mints.
When you’re on site you don’t have the luxury to walk on comfortable carpets and rugs like at the office. Nope, you’re walking on thick warehouse concrete all day every day and easily clocking 20,000 steps on your Fitbit. That is why having a pair of comfortable shoes is not just a suggestion it’s a necessity.
The life of a production manager can be very overwhelming at times, especially during an event. Taking even 5 quick minutes to center and refocus keeps you refreshed and destressed. Our favorite meditation app? Headspace!
Is having a Fitbit really a necessity for production managers? We say YES, especially if you want to join in on a friendly competition with friends and co-workers. On-site you’re constantly on the move running from place to place, so why not document all steps you take? You’d be surprised how quickly they add up (see: wear comfortable shoes). And once you see those numbers add up, it’s a great excuse to try out the local delishes in your event town
Maintaining your sense of humor is hands down the most important. This is an easy one, because we love what we do! When there’s a last minute change or something goes awry (which it will at some point) keeping a sense of humor is important for yourself, but also all the people working with or around you.
Did you check the weather this morning? Did you surf the Internet or listen to music on your morning commute? Are you currently texting your friend about your plans for the weekend? Do you plan to call your mom tonight? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions or if you even stepped outside your house today then technology has impacted your life. Let me break it down for you:
All of that brings us to today.
Technology has come so far in so little time that it is easy to take all we have for granted. Just think: the first email was sent out only 45 years ago. The first cell phone was huge, blocky, and is just 32 years old. And the first tweet was made 10 years ago. Do you still feel unattached? The App Store is only 8 years old. I feel like I’ve been using the App Store since I could first walk, which mind you was 20 years ago! So there, have I convinced you? Technology plays an important role in our personal and professional lives. From one #EventProf (okay, aspiring intern) to another, we should all spend a little time recognizing its effects:
Long distance relationships would not be possible without the World Wide Web. To be clear, I’m not talking about romantic relationships, I’m referring to business partnerships. Think of all the clients you have, and now think of how many are next door to your office. Probably none of them are, and that’s okay! That’s the beauty of technology – it allows us to connect with other professionals nationwide and even globally!
Let’s all take a minute to really thank our smart phones for that nifty little map they provide us with using the Global Positioning System. Sure you could use a printed map, but your cell phone consistently updates with the satellites orbiting the Earth to tell you travel times, routes and traffic conditions.
Imagine going to an event with no lighting, no audio direction, no headsets, and dare I say it, no Wi-Fi (ah, the horror!) It would be a complete catastrophe. A technical director or TD is in charge of the software, media, and technology behind the whole performance. A corporate event without technology is just like a library without any books.
If you’re like me, you have Google-searched anything from how to boil pasta to how to write a cover letter. Anything you could ever want to know is online, and it’s yours for the taking! A quick Internet search is your go-to for learning about the world today. We have access to 24-hour news reports, tweets, texts, and phone
calls; therefore, we’re always connected in some way, shape or form.
Technology has been around, from the invention of the wheel to the first aqueduct, we’re just now delving into the digital landscape. Our tools are quickly advancing; just this year alone we have welcomed the Galaxy S7 Edge, Pokémon Go, the first augmented reality app of its kind, the Amazon Echo Dot, a smart home and smart speaker in one, and the nationwide shift to the EMV credit card chip.
It’s always been there, now the question is where will we go from here?
According to the United States Census Bureau, Millennials account for a staggering 83.1 million or a quarter of the nation’s population, surpassing the size of our baby boomer parents by a whopping 7.7 million. Millennials are currently between the ages of 18 and 34, born between 1982 and 2000, and are quickly taking the workforce by storm, but don’t let all of that intimidate you.
Being a millennial myself, I can be the first to tell you that we were born at a time of technological innovation making us a little different from generations past. We have a digital “sixth” sense, naturally because we grew up with the immediate expansion of the Internet. We’re social beings who are not only accustomed to every aspect of our lives being shared, tweeted, and instagrammed, but we are also deeply interested and motivated by other people. Though optimistic, we have high expectations about what the future holds and truly relish in the idea of the “team” effort. Don’t be too quick to judge us without understanding that Millennials in the workplace are mostly these 5 things:
We are ready to learn, to grow, to absorb everything and anything we can get our hands on. We are deeply anxious to get involved, be entrusted with responsibility, and awarded the opportunity to interact with the “real” world.
2. Digitally Native
The digital world is our home. We can navigate the Internet, respond to emails, post on social media, while texting with ease, and all before noon! We’re social beings who think expansively in terms of how
each idea transcends and affects every party involved.
We commit to our work. We want to be challenged and given a sense of purpose. We invest ourselves in the workplace not only because we want to expand our skills to reach our potential, but also because we want our work to be appreciated. We flourish when praised for completing demanding and difficult tasks. Please critique us, we crave feedback because we’re constantly reaching for improvement.
We’re not afraid of change, in fact, we invite it! We’re excited that ever-evolving technology and our flexibility to learn and master new mediums are helping the industry progress. We live in a world where information is readily available; therefore, when we don’t know something we look to the Internet, and then self-teach, asking plenty of questions along the way.
5. Crave Impact
We want to make the world a better place and see our efforts through. We care about sustainability, the environment, and most importantly, people. When Millennials Instagram, they’re looking to get connected with others and share support for causes like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Suicide Prevention, and of course animal cuteness. We are problem-solvers, have civic-minds, and our ultimate goal is to create a happy, healthy lifestyle.
Fromm, Jeff. “Millennials in The Workplace: They Don’t Need Trophies But They Want Reinforcement.” Forbes. N.p., 6 Nov. 2015. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.
Fry, Richard. “Millennials Overtake Baby Boomers as America’s Largest Generation.” Pew Research Center. N.p., 25 Apr. 2016. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.
Gilbert, Jay. “The Millennials: A New Generation of Employees, a New Set of Engagement Policies.” Ivey Business Journal September/October (2011): n. pag. Ivey Business School. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.
Reynolds Lewis, Katherine. “Everything You Need to Know about Your Millennial Co-workers.” Fortune. N.p., 23 June 2015. Web. 31 Aug. 2016.
The Millennial Generation Research Review. Rep. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 2012. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.
United States Census Bureau. Millennials Outnumber Baby Boomers and Are Far More Diverse. United States Census Bureau. N.p., 25 June 2015. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.