Here are 10 quick tips for production managing events:
1.Preparation Is Everything
If you don’t have a plan as Production Manager, no-one will have a plan! You need to be assured that when you walk into a venue it’s all going to work as per the plan. Planning ensures that you have all of the correct, up-to-date and tested equipment on site with enough time and people to install and implement it. Make sure a site visit is done prior to an event, if this isn’t possible, push to attain all of the up-to-date CADS and venue specs. Simply turning up and hoping for the best is setting yourself up for a hugely stressful event. You’ll not only waste time putting out unnecessary fires but will lose the respect of the client and crew.
2.People Are Your Greatest Asset
It takes a team of people to pull off events, not just you. It’s important to make sure that everyone is well looked after and thought of in the preparation. This requires treating people kindly and with respect, and making sure that they are fed and watered. Clear instructions and objectives are also key in empowering them to do their jobs well.
3.Buy A Watch!
It’s amazing how time can drift on site. Watching the time keeps the sense of urgency required to keep a rig moving as well as keeping you and all parties involved accountable. If you don’t keep watch it will cost everyone later on in the schedule, and could cause unnecessary rushing and panic towards the end of the preparation phase.
4.Communication Is Critical
Understanding who makes what decisions and who needs to know what information is what makes an event happen. Clear communication and the various lines of communication need to be established well before the event to avoid getting into a potentially stressful environment. Knowing who has the final say on things early on clears up any ambiguity and allows people to take initiative. There’s nothing worse than having to second guess things, or not having a clear picture of what is required.
5.Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
More often than not there are several ways to get things done. If not careful, you can become crippled on site by indecision. Pick a decision that gets the job done and get on with it. Don’t spend too much time talking about possible solutions, that’s what the pre-planning stage is for, in a time critical environment you simply can’t afford standstill. If it doesn’t matter how something gets done, pick an option and go with it.
The last thing anyone wants to see is a Production Manager who’s in an absolute state. If you’re confident and calm, it instills the same in everyone on site, including the client. Be like a swan, calm and collected on the top of the water, but legs working hard underneath.
7.Always Have a Back Up Plan
Things break and malfunction, we should understand and accept that when working with technical equipment. However we need to be constantly thinking, “What happens if something fails?” and have a back up plan prepped and ready to go. We can’t assume everything will work as we have planned 100%. If it’s mission critical, there absolutely must be a plan B.
8.Go The Extra Mile
Going the extra mile in your rig schedule, in your preparation and in the way that you treat people will make everything run so much smoother on site. It’s slightly more work but you will reap the benefits ten-fold. Going the extra mile, in the long run, makes the journey easier to walk out. Lead as you expect to be followed and people will go the extra mile in return.
There are only 24 hours in a day, and you only have a certain amount of money, plus the band will only sound as good as they’ve rehearsed. Always push for excellence but be realistic about what can achieved given the limitations/boundaries of your project. Don’t fall prey to overpromising and under delivering.
Managing exceptions is so important to getting the best out of all of your key team. People will work hard knowing the length of time of a project or element of a schedule is going to take, but if you spring unexpected things on them last minute it’s demotivating. Similarly, if a client is expecting something to be ready at a certain time and you haven’t communicated to them that this is no longer possible due to unforseeable setbacks, then trust is likely to be broken. This all links in with good communication and being realistic. Managing expectations is the art of production management. There will be many different people with many different agendas and so you need to simultaneously manage the expectation of each of those agendas to pull the whole thing together.