AEO - Association of event organisers

Through the Eye of an Event Shaped Lens – Making an Industry Video


Through the Eye of an Event Shaped Lens – Making an Industry Video


If you had asked me what I thought I would be doing this time last year – chasing organisers around London Olympia with a film crew to share their success stories, would have been last on my list.

Aside from holding coats and dashing off to find my next victim, there is a comforting familiarity in the responses I’ve been getting from so many members who have been kind enough to take part in this project. I can identify 100% with their answer to the key question they have all been asked, “How did you get into events?” Almost everybody has said “I fell into it.”

I started with the team at the AEO in November and quickly realised it was going to be a steep learning curve. In true Skeith style, however, our CEO Chris threw me in at the deep end with something to sink my teeth into. I was challenged with the task of sourcing a video production company for a new project developed by our Talent Working Group.

The previous meeting had recognised that events was still a keen career choice for many young hopefuls coming up through the ranks, but there was some clarity needed on the fantastic career opportunities and diverse roles that the industry could offer in addition to but including the obvious Event Manager role.

Furthermore, it was highlighted that the events our members run were often overlooked when thinking about the industry overall – with many enthusiastic graduates leaving the sheltered realm of university, with aspirations to become the next Michael or Emily Eavis of Glastonbury fame.

Now there is nothing wrong with this dream. As an avid festival goer – I love their work, but that’s not the message we were trying to get across. We wanted to shout about exhibitions – that they are a huge part of the UK event landscape – that they contribute over 11 billion towards the economy in the UK alone – that it’s a vibrant, dynamic industry  with varied job roles and above all opportunity, at home and abroad. This is something to be proud of – just as proud as securing the headline act for this year’s Pyramid stage.

We wanted the final production to reflect this great industry our members contribute to. So, the next task was to finding a suitable production company to work with. As an Association, we have a considered budget and a responsibility to ensure that everything we invest in terms of time and money effort is in the best interests of our members.

This initial “advertisement” would be no longer than 45 seconds to capture the viewers’ interest and be used as a hook to entice candidates to find out more. This would then link to a second and longer video – that would listen to exerts from industry professionals about their love of what they do, why people should want to work in our events, the different roles and who they would appeal to and how they could get into the industry. It all sounded very exciting, and the team were on board instantly to set the wheels in motion.

I then had to set about negotiations on how we were going to bring this cinematic triumph to life – as I mentioned, we had a smaller budget and big ideas, so there was going to have to be a certain degree of creativity involved!

We needed actors, hair and make-up (for them, not me), plus a crew to be on the ground getting filler shots which would inject the piece with the buzz and atmosphere needed to lift it – we also had to feed and water them and plan the logistics such as travel, parking and access so that they’re not lugging equipment around like pack mules.

A smaller budget meant a fair few restrictions – therefore I was heavily involved in the process of going cap in hand to our organisers and venues to ask for A LOT of favours, and as the producer was a “creative” individual it meant that I was responsible for project managing the process, organising the critical path and essentially managing him. I also had to take charge of ensuring that the actors and actresses were clear on the brief, and even designed mood boards for attire and character so that they didn’t show up in trainers. As every event professional knows, you just get on with it to make a success of the next event, this was the same with producing this video – I wanted a professional job, it was my project so I rolled up my sleeves and got on with it, coat hanger, tea maker, lighting assistant you name it.   

Once this was finalised – I assembled a critical path with key dates to work towards – building in slippage, but keeping in mind the end of April to have all completed. It was essential to keep relevant people in the loop of our intended filming dates as we were approaching our members to get the footage wanted for both videos. I ensured that they were clear on what was happening where and when, especially the office location we were using, as it involved a certain level of disruption down to the little details such as asking if they could remove the Costa cup from their desk without prior warning!  In total we used three members’ events and one office location – ensuring that we could capture a good breadth of footage to display the essence of the industry, focussing on both consumer and trade exhibitions.

I contacted venues regarding spaces that we needed– including a large empty hall to show pre build, organising interviews from our Talent Group’s recommendations, and securing office space and floorplans to ensure that we had covered off every last detail.  

I’m a great planner but there are always things you don’t account for which is why it’s so important to be able to think on your feet when working in events. However, being new to your world, I hadn’t accounted for the sheer scale of some individuals commitments within their businesses, and this meant that there was the odd hiccup to overcome.

For example – We were due to have a clear ops office for an hour at the event on the day, but on arrival it was clear that this had to remain in use to the public and couldn’t be closed off as agreed. Therefore, we had members of the public walking in and out of the frames and had to do the shot over 45 times – for something that was only going to last five seconds in total!

We also had a situation where the empty hall that we were due to use changed to being set up for a new show – this meant that we weren’t allowed in due to, you guessed it, health and safety restrictions! This led to the actor being out of use and having to come back on a separate day to film. Luckily we were due back on site again in a couple of weeks and, as we used a smaller production company, they were flexible to meet our needs.

We faced shell scheme blocking a planned exit and a make-up artist being 2 hours late because the sat nav. was saying no – all of which ate into filming time and meant that my precious day schedule was slipping through my fingers.

The irony, making a video about what it is like working in the events industry whilst experiencing the reality myself for the first time. Basically – it taught me to think on my feet and use who and what we did have at our fingertips to make it work.  I was definitely at the peak of my video production learning curve!

It was incredibly flattering to have such a volume of people wanting to take part – everyone involved has been very helpful and truly wanted to represent their day to day in a positive light. Each had a different tale to tell and all were equally inspiring in bringing to life all that is involved in making the next show an exciting one. One thing they all agreed on, however, was how they loved the people that they worked with and what a brilliant industry it is to be part of – all of which we want to highlight in the final video.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so precious about something that I’ve worked on and I really hope that when it comes to sharing it, it will be something that the industry can use and be proud of.

Once I’ve seen the final cut, I’ll take you through how and why we came up with the concept and used the production company we did, but until then, you will just have to wait and see!

  • "Broadway Events joined the AEO on the Enterprise Membership. We’ve already taken advantage of the many benefits including the excellent FaceTime Masterclasses and training guides for exhibitors."
    Emma Barrett
    Broadway Events
  • "We are a member of the AEO because it is a proactive association for the events industry. As an organiser it provides us with high value ideas, networking, guidance and information."
    David Harrison
    PPMA Group
  • "This year, the association has led working groups to address industry issues and put on some amazing events full of insightful content for both organisers and, through the AEOs FaceTime initiative, exhibitors. In addition, the AEO has represented the industry at a Governmental level to raise awareness of the importance of events to the UK economy."
    Paul Byrom
    Upper Street Events
  • "I genuinely believe that if you’re involved in organising events you should become a member of the AEO."
    Simon Kimble
    Clarion Events
  • "Our membership of the AEO represents real and tangible value for UBM - it provides fantastic networking opportunities, practical training for our team as well as valuable insight into the state of our industry."
    Simon Parker
    Informa Markets
  • "As an Association business, we appreciate the excellent work the secretariat of the AEO do for our community. From the events side of our business, the AEO provides an excellent return on investment, providing thought leadership, fantastic networking, brilliant awards, excellent research and FaceTime, a valuable tool to tell our markets why exhibitions and events should be an essential part of the marketing mix."
    Neil Felton
  • "AEO’s networking and member meetings are valuable for individuals at all levels within our organisation. The promotion of our sector to the outside world, to government, authorities and business at large is another vital aspect of the AEO’s purpose for members, many of whom, like my company, work on events throughout the world."
    Stephen Brooks
    Mack Brooks Exhibitions
  • “Knowledge is power and the AEO dinners are certainly powerful, there is always a wealth of knowledge at the table. Insightful presentations make for a constructive and extremely social way to learn from the experts who’ve done it before. I attended the Japanese evening and gained really valuable insight about the culture and how best to communicate with a local audience.”
    John Whitaker
    Vice President Marketing, Data & Digital , dmg events
  • "We have the opportunity to contribute positively to the industry as well as gaining valuable insight and advice. There’s no need to spend valuable time and money reinventing the wheel when you have so many experienced professionals in AEO membership to learn from”
    Emma Cartmell
    CHS Group
  • "JOINING THE AEO HAS BEEN FANTASTIC! Being able to gift our customers with free places at the FaceTime masterclasses, learn alongside industry peers and seek advice to common challenges is invaluable”
    Sharon Azam
    GovNet Communications
  • I just wanted to send my most sincere thanks for everything that you and the AEO team are doing to help navigate the events industry through the pandemic. The working groups and communication from the AEO have been excellent and I’m really appreciative of being part of such a wonderful organisation.
    Simon Burns
    ICHF Events
  • I think what the AEO has been doing during this tough time has been exceptional.
    Greg Cherry
    QD Events LTD
  • It is so useful to hear from your peers at this time. Please pass my thanks to Ruth and the BTIG panel
    Dan Assor
    CloserStill Media
  • Just wanted to thank you and Ruth this morning for the Zoom meeting - it was really interesting to hear how things are moving along in the virtual/hybrid meeting/exhibitions. All very new to me, so a lot to digest.
    Maureen Wright
    Optic UK
  • The session this morning was fantastic. We are right in the midst of this and the information was so useful. We can apply it immediately
    Claire Adams
  • The AEO provides an opportunity to make a difference, to work with other companies for the good of the industry as a whole, but beyond that, it provides it’s members with valuable insight and tangible benefits to grow your business, upskill and engage your teams. For those reasons, our membership is in indelible ink on the each annual budget. In short, if you aren’t a member, you are missing out.
    Ed Tranter
    73 Media




AEO news