Going Behind (and Beyond) the Scenes of an Event Production Crew

One day you’re staging an event for a TV company.  The next you’re prepping equipment to be shipped cross-country.  And then you end the week saving the day by having an HDMI-DVI conversion ready to go for an event with a national charity.  In whatever city, or whatever state, the life of an Event Tech is never slow, and never monotonous.

If you want just the bare facts, we can tell you that they work with, set up, and operate audio and video equipment.  This can include connecting wires and cables; operating sound boards; preparing microphones, speakers, and projectors; and even setting up custom lighting systems.  But that’s like drawing a stick figure and hoping to understand how nerves and veins, muscles and bones, all work together to give us world record-breaking athletes. There’s a lot more going on behind the scenes.

They’ve got to know if presenters have flash drives, or need access to Google drive.  Are they Android or Apple users? Will they be syncing fireworks with a light show? Or managing multiple presentations at the same time in a massive conference hall?  Did they schedule three hours for set-up but a thunderstorm just rolled in, cutting the power? What’s the plan to break down and avoid disrupting attendees? Did someone really attempt to swing on a rigging point, practically bringing the entire system down?

Event labor and production crews don’t have their lives and jobs confined in a box. Whether they’ve supported 50 events or 500, nothing is ever the same.   

Their days might start before the crack of dawn and end at the midnight hour.  They might move from bus to car to plane in a punch-drunk state that ends with them falling into bed in an unknown city – after all, the name doesn’t matter as long as the bed is available.  Have you ever heard the song ‘Join the Circus’? The chorus entreats the listener with the refrain:

“Go to bed in Minneapolis, wake up in PA.

Pack your roll, your brush and your comb again,

Ready to roll again, ready to stray.”

It could’ve been written for any member of an AV labor and production event team.

It’s not a life for the fainthearted.  Who else could show up to work, find the loading dock blocked by piles of toilets, and not just throw in the towel?  But, on the flip side, who else could live on site for a month, craft never-before-seen video screens, and ensure the success of an event that can mesmerize, engage, create visions to be remembered, or brings tears to the audience’s eyes?

They’ve got dust on their shoes from all fifty states, and met people from more walks of life than half of us can even imagine.  Yes, they live out of a suitcase, and they might go kind of mad around the third consecutive all-nighter – but its the madness of genius, of brilliance bubbling to life, that will keep everything from going wrong, and ensure the crew’s invisibility remains intact.  After all, no one should know a Producer is the one pulling the strings, but their invisibility is only as good as their tech skills.

But they aren’t in it alone.  They’ve got unbreakable bonds with other technicians, coordinators, rental houses, stage managers, riggers, lighting and projection operators, and the list goes on and on.  These are relationships formed while making the impossible possible, slaying dragons with wits and endless bags of tricks, and ending the day knowing it would not have happened without these people by your side.

It’s a family.  To quote another song, “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”  And most Event pros would ask you, “Why would I ever want to?”

The madness and travel might all be part of the job, but accidents are not. Our biggest asset is our crew and we make sure that everyone is highly trained and has strict safety procedures in place. This is truly a family where we look out for one another, help make the environment safe first and foremost, and ensure the continued success of each other. Learn more about our Health & Safety policies.  

John Doyle: The Man Behind the Curtain

John DoyleJohn Doyle is a modest man whose career in the audiovisual industry once let him see Ginger Rogers give a dance lesson to a few Washington D.C. news correspondents. He’s worked with everyone from major insurance companies to John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson. He’s the man behind the curtain who makes sure events and conferences go so smoothly, no one ever has to ask, “Why did that just happen?” We think it’s fair to say his work blazed a trail for the audiovisual industry in Chicago. How did he do it? What has it been like? What’s his favorite song? Does he remember any of Ginger’s moves?
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The Benefits of National Support

Complete Crewing may be based in Chicago, but we work with people and events all around the United States.  For over twenty years, we’ve provided labor and production services for events from Los Angeles, CA to Boston, MA.  That’s more than two decades of building trusted relationships and creating streamlined processes to give our clients the best possible service no matter where their events take them.
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Complete Crewing Rocks- A Thank You to the Team

We have a culture of service and teamwork that has only become more entrenched and on display over the last month. A series of family medical emergencies, weather related issues, large events, and renovation and infrastructure projects were no match for this team. Everyone came together and conquered all seemingly without pause.

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2019: A Year of Purpose and Experience

In July 2018, Complete Crewing announced the appointment of a new CEO and majority owner, Dan Kantor.  Complete Crewing went on to have a record year, and we look forward to making 2019 even better.  We aren’t only excited for ourselves, either.  A new year brings new opportunities and experiences for the entire Events and Meeting Industry, and everyone in the labor and production services.  Take a look at just a few changes on the horizon and get ready to experience events like never before.
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Impacts of Nutrition, Activity, Sleep and Health on Occupational Safety

It’s holiday time, which means frightful weather, figgy pudding, and plenty of rockin’ around the Christmas tree!  Or something like that, anyways.  We think we can all agree that it definitely means a lot of activity and little rest – even when we have visions of pajamas and lazy mornings dancing in our heads.  We’re huge fans of a good time, but too little focus on nutrition and rest can lead to an overworked brain and body, which affects on-the-job judgment and energy.  We’re invested in the safety, health and welfare of everyone in the AV, labor, and production services, so what can be done to enhance our health during this chaotic, but wonderful season?  Read on for tips on improving safety and productivity, while still having a grand old time.
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#Whatsinyourlunchbag Dan Kantor

Impacts of Nutrition, Activity, Sleep and Health on Occupational Safety

It’s holiday time, which means frightful weather, figgy pudding, and plenty of rockin’ around the Christmas tree! Or something like that, anyways. We think we can all agree that it definitely means a lot of activity and little rest – even when we have visions of pajamas and lazy mornings dancing in our heads. We’re huge fans of a good time, but too little focus on nutrition and rest can lead to an overworked brain and body, which affects on-the-job judgment and energy. We’re invested in the safety, health and welfare of people at work, so what can be done to enhance our health during this chaotic, but wonderful season? Read on for tips on improving safety and productivity, while still having a grand old time.

Sleep

We don’t know about you, but sometimes we crave some good, old-fashioned hibernation. John Peever, director of the Systems Neurobiology Laboratory at the University of Toronto, and Brian J. Murray, director of the laboratory at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center said that sleep reenergizes the body’s cells, clears waste from the brain, supports learning and memory, and plays a vital role in regulating mood and appetite. Sign us up. Especially when we consider the opposite – that a lack of sleep can affect judgment, mood, and the ability to learn and retain information. No, thank-you.

In the workplace, a lack of sleep might result in reduced productivity, analytical errors, short-tempers, and accidents. None of us want to be on the giving or receiving end of that mess. Ideally, you should go to sleep when you’re tired and wake up on your own. If that sounds like an unattainable dream, don’t stress it, just do the best you can. Take naps if necessary, and provide the body with food and activity that nurture restful sleep.

Nutrition

Wow your co-workers with this exciting trivia. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, and mediate moods. Around 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract. Mind blown? What if we told you that it shares that space with billions of good bacteria that play a large role in your body’s health, including the activation of neural pathways that travel directly between the gut and the brain? Bottom line? Healthy guts support healthy brains. And the answer to a healthy gut lies in feeding it premium fuel.

Eating isn’t usually an issue during the holidays. We’re practically drooling thinking of grandma’s pecan pie, dad’s leftover turkey casserole, and frosted sugar cookies. However, if we’re being honest – and our goal is your health after all – we wouldn’t consider any of that premium fuel. So, we recommend you mix it up. Go after all sorts of brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Avoid eating too many processed and refined foods and sugars. How about a smoothie, vegetables and hummus, or some whole-grain toast spread with nut butter and coconut oil? We all have our favorite holiday snacks, and there’s nothing wrong with sharing in food and community. Smile, relax, and rejuvenate. Then help out your brain and body by adding in key nutrients. It will pay off during vacation time, and when you need to report to the office.

Activity

Okay, we know the couch is calling your name, but it’s not going anywhere. Before you stretch out, head to the great outdoors for some blood-pumping activity. Exercise reduces insulin resistance, stimulates the release of chemicals that help grow new brain cells, and improves mood and sleep – among many other positive direct and indirect benefits. In other words, exercise makes you physically more capable and can reduce cognitive impairment. #Winning.

If you don’t like the idea of lifting weights or running on a treadmill, then don’t. Make it your goal simply to move more. How about walking, hiking, biking, or mountain climbing? Or maybe yoga, Tai Chi or rowing? Group sports? There’s no end to creativity here, just remember to consistently move. Think about it this way. It’s recommended we brush our teeth twice a day. Now, if we brush our teeth eight times one day, and then zero times over the next few days, does that really achieve the same results? Of course not. The same is true for exercise. Find something to do every day, even if it’s only for a short while.

Let’s Wrap it Up

Health is complex and it’s impossible to expect one body system to work at an exceptional level if another is feeling sluggish and overworked. If we want to reduce brain fog and the spread of illnesses, we’ve got to combine diet, exercise and sleep. When we’re talking about winning the health jackpot, those three areas are the answer to vitality. When you’re at your best, you give your team your best and enable them to do the same. This holiday season, pay attention to how your nutrition, exercise and sleep can make for a safer environment for all.

“From Puppet Shows to Feature Films, and Everything In Between.” Eleven Questions and a Story with Bruce Rodgers

SANTA CLARA, CA – FEBRUARY 07: Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Floyd (Complete Crewing, Chicago Labor and Production Services): Tell me about your first job in the business. How did you get it and what was it?

Floyd:  How did you first get into show business?

Bruce:  [laughs] Well, I grew up in West Texas, and I knew I was going to get into show business at an early age.

The only thing we could do with our three television channels back in those days was stay up late and watch late night movies. My mom and dad were irresponsible and never made me go to bed. [laughs]

In between a double header every night or on Friday nights, I don’t know if you remember this, they would do a little behind the scenes of the making of “The Planet of the Apes,” or this or that. I fell in love with the fact that there were real people creating these things and making movies. I saw Hollywood as this far away destination for a fun, fun, life and I was awestruck with the creative work.

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“Empathy is an Infinite Resource.” Eleven Questions and a Story with Bill Bartolotta

Floyd (Complete Crewing, Chicago Labor and Production Services): Tell me about your first job in the business. How did you get it and what was it?

The events Bill creates are legendary for those who have the good fortune to be invited. I asked some guests what they recalled from the events they had attended:

 “I can tell you who some of the main acts were, Aretha Franklin, Bette Midler, The Eagles, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, James Brown, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Ziggy Marley.”

“I can not describe the place, where it was, what was there, what happened, the food, the sensation, but when it happens again I want be there, you want be there.”

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“There is No Rewind in Live.” Eleven Questions and a Story with Ken Newman

Floyd (Complete Crewing, Chicago Labor and Production Services): Tell me about your first job in the business. How did you get it and what was it?

Floyd:  Tell me how you got into the business.

Ken:  That’s a long story, [laughs]

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