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2011 Radio 1 Big Weekend.

Dj Dunc

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On the big events, no such thing as unpaid work in the technical department (apart from like, runners etc that get work experience'd from the local colleges).


Major production and crew companies are drafted in - likes of PRG/Star/Miracles/Brit Row/SSE/Wigwam/whatever to supply their various bits and bobs, and they just send their regular lads, the same ones who work every other event they do. Location doesn't really come into it, the bigger priority is getting guys who know the setup, and can get it done quickly, fix it when it goes wrong, then take it down and home in quick time. Some local guy who has an interest in sound and has done it once or twice in the local pub is not the same as somebody who knows the ins and outs of setting up an L'Acoustics line array in a tent with a muddy floor or a woodchipped floor. The latter is one trade they need, the former just isn't.


If you want to do that stuff, put the pen to the paper and get on a crew like Miracles or Gallows or whatever and start rolling flight cases around with the big boys. Ringing up the sound supplier for a major festival and asking if you can go and play with them at the weekend will only yield the response "you can apply to join our freelance database, send us your CV' and if it doesn't have what they want, it doesn't matter how local you are, it ain't happening. What I'm saying is, if you want experience, start at the bottom rung of the ladder and work your way up there, don't just call up and expect to dive in with the top dogs.


Just to drift off topic abit...

While I agree that 'hands-on' experience is very important and valuable(whatever form it takes) in my experience working for crewing companies is not necessarily the best way to get into the industry; getting whatever kind of experience you can from production companies, venues, being involved in the local music scene etc. are probably equally if not more valuable routes. There is a risk of getting into the habit of just getting crew work; which can make it hard to move up to the next level when theres other people that have more on their c.v. than just 'crew work'.


This is true, however, in my opinion, you are not doing the 'crew' thing to be 'promoted' as such. There is no direct route from a crew company to a PA company, and there are plenty of hands who've been hands far too long and are still waiting for something to happen... and it probably won't.


HOWEVER, I think that joining a local crew is just a good way to 1) learn about how the big shows work, 2) learn a bit more about what each of the companies do, and 3) also get a bit of networking done with the other crews:

1) Coming out of college I thought I knew how a live show worked, did my first load in at the O2 arena and christ I got a shock, was nothing like they taught it in college. Hundreds of people running round in all directions, not one person sat playing with the PA or lights, everyone far too busy for that.

2) As locals it's not uncommon to be 'seconded' to another crew. So you might turn up thinking you're rolling cases off a truck, but in reality you end up building Prolyte for the rigging company. Then, next day, you're seconded to the lighting company to hang macs off said prolyte. Then you're seconded to power, to get power onto said prolyte and into said macs. So whilst, at each stage, you are just doing the slave jobs - lifting, shifting, humping, dumping, and hitting stuff with a hammer; you're getting hands on experience around all the areas, becoming familiar with the names of different bits of kit, and generally just learning what each company does. This is very valuable in itself.

3) And finally, if you do aspire to be a PA engineer, and you're loading in equipment for Brit Row, you'd be an idiot not to be chatting to their boys during the in/out. They're all good engineers, working professionally, so even if they can't hook you up with something (often they can!), they can tell you how they got their jobs, what companies they went through etc. Just this week I was rigging, and was given some locals to do the heavy stuff for me. Got to know 2 of them, thought they were alright, hooking them up this week with some work that pays twice their normal rate - because I want to work with them again so it's in my interest as well as theirs!


So yeah - carrying flight cases isn't something that's going to win you the job interview when it comes at the company you actually want to work for. Not even close. BUT, getting about the shows, learning what's what, where you find stuff, who's who, who to ask for stuff, how things work, the 'trade names' for stuff, and all the little things which the pros don't even notice themselves doing anymore, but straight away pick you out for not doing... is invaluable, and it's far better to learn as a local - who has a get-out-of-jail-free card for making errors, then go in as a half-knowledgable lampie or noise boy, than it is to try and jump in straight at that level, and quickly make a douche of yourself in a world of far greater beings.

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