A day in the life…

Posted by Jessica Pryce on July 20th, 2016

In the first of our two Police Federation Bravery Awards blogs, our Production Manager Jon Barham gives us a behind the scenes look into Production! Whilst next week Paul Leeks, our joint Managing Director will be giving us an insight into the Project Management and filming side!

Over to you Jon…

staff member. Jon Barham. Production Manager/ Head of IT

“It all starts on Tuesday 12th July, it’s a busy day with the rest of the Production team out on another event build, leaving me to my own devices to prep all the kit for the Police Bravery Awards (so only me to blame if something is missing then!!). The cavalry finally arrive around 6pm to help with the final bits so everything is prepped ready for the truck arriving in the morning.

Wednesday 13th July – Truck arrives on time (there’s a first) and the whole team are around to help get everything safely loaded (taking extra care with our very delicate poly lettering and hexagonal logo with layered perspex and Led lights!). Truck is loaded and enroute to London by 11:30am, leaving me and the rest of the production team a couple of hours to catch up on other work before jumping on a train to head down to the ‘big smoke’ and our overnight digs.

van load

Of course our train is delayed by nearly an hour – so it would be rude not to have a quick drink in the station bar right?

We get to our digs around 6:30pm and meet up with some of the other crew staying there and we all go out for a chilled evening with a curry and a couple of shandy’s. It’s an early one for us as we have a long busy day ahead.

Thursday 14th July(Event Day!) – It’s 6:30am and we all meet in the hotel reception before jumping in a couple of cabs over to the Dorchester on Park Lane (our venue for the day). The truck and team of local crew are already there waiting for us – time to sign in to the venue and get this build under-way.

The pressure is on as we have a lot to do in not much time so very little time for anything to go wrong! This is the second year we have done this event at the Dorchester but this year is a brand new set design to reflect the client’s new brand – Let’s hope everything fits and works as planned (fingers crossed).

My first priority is to get the projectors mounted backstage in position and powered up as this will determine how far back the set can go (space is a real premium in this venue). The set back wall and new custom ratio screen go in quickly and positions fixed ready for building the remainder of the set. Unfortunately we can only build one side of the set as the remainder of the AV and camera control and Sound equipment needs to be put in situ before the access is blocked. This takes longer than expected purely down to the space limitations but eventually everything is in and the set and stage can finally be finished.

rig

I have a watchful eye on everything to keep track of progress in all areas, sound, lights, graphics, cameras, stage set, FOH, AV equipment and photo-backdrop in the drinks reception etc.

By 11:00am the trusses are flown and made safe by the venue riggers and the floor areas are clear ready for the venue staff to set tables in position (an hour ahead of our schedule). We still have a lot to do including graphics to put on the stage set, lights to focus and program, camera’s to check and colour balance, and the small matter of not yet having any of the video content for the show!

By lunchtime all areas are where they should be so it’s time for me to concentrate on my operational role for the event – Graphics control, AV switching along with the webcast setup and monitoring.

Finally the video content is ready (after last minute edits back at HQ) and I can download from our dropbox. With all the content sorted and show files built with cues in order etc we are ready to have a technical rehearsal with our show caller. As this is the first time I’ve used our shiny new AV switchers on a live show I’m 50% nervous & 50% excited.

After a few tweaks from our technical rehearsal we settle on a format which works for us and are ready just in time for client and presenter rehearsals. As usual a few tweaks and content additions come out of the rehearsals which are done straight after, ready for the show. Once the main show is all set, it’s time for a quick check of all other areas  to make sure they’re show ready. During rehearsals we have the obligatory sniffer dog search due to the high profile of the event and the high security level of some of our guests.

After H&S checks to make sure all cabling is neat, taped where necessary etc all areas are clear and ready for the guests to arrive. Time to relax a little until show time.

7:15pm and all crew on standby for the Pre-dinner welcome address by Steve White – Chair of PFEW and Stephen Mann from Police Mutual. All goes well and the guests settle down to dinner – our opportunity to leave the room for a short break and enjoy some crew food with the rest of the team and a chance for some of us to impersonate Police Officers (by borrowing one of the officers helmets!).

police hats

After our delicious crew food and general antics, it’s time for us to get into serious show mode and take our positions ready for the main event.

The show seems to go very quickly, I think that’s mainly because of the 7 laptops, AV switching and graphics plus the webcast I was looking after!  Everything goes well and the show finishes just after 11:00. We quietly start to de-rig any bits we can behind the set whilst we wait for the all clear from FOH to say that guests have departed and we’re clear to de-rig.

production

At midnight all the guests are ushered out of the main room and we’re given the go ahead. Local crew, venue rigger and lighting riggers are back on-site and it’s all hands on deck to de-rig everything and load the truck. Despite everyone being tired, everything is down and loaded onto the truck by 3:00am.

The main crew are back at the crew digs by 3:30am to enjoy a well-earned beer and pizza. Then it’s time for a few hours kip before jumping back on the train up north in time to unload the truck.

end of night

Another job done and another happy client, time for a rest this weekend! Luckily this is my last live event of this season and counting down the days to my holiday (did I mention I’m going on holiday in a week!).

Time to re-group ready for the next season which is just around the corner!!”