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20 Mar 2017

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!