How'd You Do That & Why?
We undertook another comprehensive stage set and design changeover recently and it brought up a few good memories and a bit of good humor as to why we actually do this production thing.
My job as a Production Manager is largely based on balancing many circumstances and situations (many of them quite negative) and using knowledge, assertiveness, delegation, organization, and a great crew that I respect tremendously to turn it into something that enhances the message that is to be imparted to our congregation.
Sounds cool, but where the rubber really meets the road is that we have 48 hours to tear out and stow the old set and lighting setup, load-in, rig and build the new set, dial in different LED video elements, sort out a completely new lighting rig and fixtures, and deal with a new band layout—and I suppose we need some rehearsal in there somewhere so the band and crew can get everything in sync together before the first weekend service.
Oftentimes when we put together these designs and work out all of the logistics and planning beforehand, it still comes up to be nothing more than a house of cards.......UNTIL we get it completed—then everything is in its proper place and it’s all locked down, tied up, smoothed out, and cleaned up. At this point it becomes the backbone of our system—one that you can trust even in the most crazy situation.
BUT—how and why did we get there between the tight turnaround time, the balancing act of keeping our other campus events (i.e., clients) happy, staying under budget, keeping overtime in check, hoping to keep my crew healthy and safe (not to mention happy), dealing with the bits of gear that somehow shows up broken, making the set piece work that looked great on paper but won’t fit through the loading dock door, etc, etc, etc...
Over time, I will delve into these questions of “how’d we do that” and the even more intense “why’d we do that?”, but for now it can be demonstrated quite nicely through a small portion of a conversation I had with our Lighting Designer, Daniel Connell. He and I come from the same grid of working for many years on the road and getting to use our talent now in a church setting. I became associated with Daniel while Tour Managing and handling Production for a major Christian act some years back—and we have become great friends through years of traveling together and now with him working on our production team here at COTM—he is a class act who is not happy until the job is done right—which to me, means he fits in perfectly.
So we were resting on our laurels for a few brief moments admiring how our latest stage incarnation was coming together and he recounted a sentiment something like this, “You know what’s still cool after all these years? None of this was here 24 hours ago... We still take nothing and make it into something.” It made me reflect for a moment about the adrenaline rush that we still get to this day when a plan or idea starts to take tangible shape and you know that it will succeed. Somewhere in this part of the process, the teeter-totter passes the fulcrum of “card-house” to “solid rock”.
Watching the team start to catch on to the vision as the excitement increases is something I will never take for granted—this is where I thrive, it is what I was born to do and is what I was called to be a part of.
As for how we did it? How’s this for simple: we took tons of gear and coupled it with a definitive creative vision.
As to the why—equally as simple: God gave us the talent to sort out how this creative vision can pass from the virtual to the literal. All we did was run with it.