As the erstwhile Tim Bergling retires from performing live, IQ reflects on the highlights of a career behind the decks
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The second ILMC Production Meeting session discussed the challenges, cultural and logistic, faced by international touring crew
By IQ on 05 Mar 2019
Following a brief introduction by chair Martina Pogacic from Croatia’s Show Production, panellists Alberto Artese of Assomusica (Italy), Renatas Nacajus of Falcon Club (Lithuania) and Paddy Hocken of Paddy Hocken Productions (UK) began the second IPM session by recalling notable incidents where the needs of international tours and local production crews failed to align – with the response from the latter being, invariably, “What did you expect? This is [country name]!”
Nacajus said promoters often feel ashamed to ask if they don’t understand something on the production side, especially in the Baltic region. Hocken agreed, saying his company’s approach is to “use lots of drawings and pictures. In the documentation we send out, we also don’t use any colloquial terms that might be common in North America or Britain but not understood elsewhere.”
Pogacic asked if there should be a standardised list of terms common to production crews anywhere in the world, saying she remembers (in the pre-Google era) receiving technical riders and being bewildered by some of the jargon.
The key to working together successfully, suggested Hocken, is open and transparent communication from both sides, with local crew being honest about what’s possible, and incoming tours being realistic in their expectations.
“It’s about sharing the problems”
Speaking from the floor, independent production manager Keith Wood said he’s disappointed to hear that there’s a culture of being too scared to ask questions – saying if one of his tours arrives and the staff and infrastructure aren’t there, “I’ve failed in my job, in advancing that show properly.”
“It’s about sharing the problems,” echoed promoter-turned-production manager Artese. “Sometimes it can be tricky if you don’t know the other guy, but it’s essential that everyone tells the truth, 100% of the time.”
Talk then turned to the difficulties of planning for events which, in many cases, have been oversold beyond what would be the optimum configuration for the venue. One audience member suggested that – with demand for tickets at an all-time high – agents are trying to extract the maximum revenue by making the show as big as possible, posing difficulties for local crews.
Another said they’d like to see promoters step in to dictate the boundaries of their shows. “This is one of the few businesses in the world where you agree on something without knowing what you’re even signing up to,” he commented. “It should be down to the promoters to say, ‘Here are the parameters, and that’s that.’”