The Crew Eats, Too

A guide to the proper care and feeding of your production team
By CHRISTY LAMAGNA, CMP, CMM, CTSM, AND JAMES S. ROTA

Have you heard people say they’re a right-brain or left-brain thinker? Right-brainers tend to be creative and instinctual, left-brainers more analytical and logical. That’s how Beauty & the Brain was born. James Rota’s creativity meshes with Christy Lamagna’s strategic thinking to bring a well-rounded approach to events. These columns are designed to highlight both sides of the planning process.
From the:

Beauty logo smallRegardless of what you’re planning, it’s key to know your audience. Today we put a spotlight on the backbone of almost all productions: the production crew. These are the men and women who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that everything runs seamlessly from a production standpoint. Their hours are long, usually starting before the sun rises and finishing long after it sets. They often go unnoticed, but they should not be forgotten.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Have a food allergy list for your crew as well as your attendees.
  • Set up a beverage station with hot and cold beverages that are refreshed throughout the day.
  • Offer food selections that can be eaten hot or at room temperature. The crew may eat in shifts.
  • Offer healthy options that keep energy levels consistent.
  • Treat your crew as you would any valued attendee or staff member.

Properly feeding the crew creates solid morale, which translates into more motivation to work hard.
From the:

Brain Logo smallThe production team is in the spotlight if a projector fails, sound quality is poor or if any number of other technical snafus occur, so you want the best of the best at the helm.
Dedicated crews arrive earlier than most and are often last to leave. Installation and tear down requires physical and mental energy and, while the show is running, these folks are the nerve center of your operation.

It’s ironic that people who are critical to successful content delivery are often overlooked, if not ignored. Here are a few ways to correct that while improving your show quality:

  • Contract enough time for load-in and strike and avoid overnight load-ins. If something goes wrong during setup, there are few options for replacement equipment. Speakers likely won’t have time to rehearse and your program is at risk of starting late. Additionally, your cue-to-cue rehearsal may be cut, which means you have no dry run for your program.
  • Overnight load-ins have the crew up all day, loading in overnight and likely working the next morning.
  • Depriving the people responsible for key timing and execution of sleep is bad for everyone.
  • If you have a 15-minute break, the crew has about eight minutes to hit the bathrooms and return.
  • They rarely eat as they have neither the time nor the opportunity. Have catering bring food to the crew during breaks. It should be able to be eaten without a fork and only drinks with lids should be offered for equipment safety.
  • Strongly encourage speakers to submit slides at least 24 hours before the event. Put them in a PowerPoint deck in presentation order and put them on a jump drive. Include title slides and walk-in/walk-out slides or still stores. Hand the drive to the production team so they can load the presentations into show computers. Make time to sit with the graphics op to make sure there are no unseen glitches. If you want walk-in/walk-out, play-on/play-off music, let them know that as well as what type of music you prefer.
  • Provide the names and titles of speakers and a pronunciation guide for anyone who requires a VOG (voice of God) introduction to the stage.

Production teams work tirelessly to make your event run smoothly. Treat them with the kindness they deserve.

Want more tips on the proper care of your production partners? Email me at:
*protected email*.
Until next time, remember that smart is beautiful!

How culturally aware are you?

It’s a planner’s job to create events that welcome attendees from everywhere

From the

I grew up in a traditional Italian family. Christmas Eve was a night of seafood, grain pie was a staple at Easter and Struffoli were a sweet treat at both. We went to Mass every Sunday, and we prayed to St. Anthony whenever we needed help finding a misplaced item.

It never occurred to me that there were other cultures, customs or celebrations. All I knew was the world I grew up in. As I got older, I became aware of other cultures, but I was hardly worldly in my knowledge. As a planner I need to be sensitive to not just other cultures’ celebrations but their dietary habits, traditions, customs and cultures. I’ve learned about cultures I didn’t even knew existed.

How culturally aware are you? Do you know when Diwali is? Do you know what Ramadan is or what customs must be followed during it? What do people from Asia eat for breakfast? What type of beer do folks from Australia prefer?

Do you have a prayer area set aside for guests who need to worship during the day? Does the band/DJ you’re hiring have a selection of music that spans the globe and not just the Top 10 charts?

Most of us know the myth about the number 13 causing bad luck. It’s not uncommon to find a hotel elevator that goes from 11 to 14. But what culture considers the number 4 bad luck? In what culture is the number 13 considered good luck?

So many questions and things to learn. As planners we are expected to create welcoming environments for our guests. That means knowing what food to serve and what not to serve, what dates to avoid and what your guests need to feel at home. It’s not hard to do, it just takes a bit of research and attention to detail. It’s our job to treat all our guests with gracious hospitality. That’s the American way.

From the

I grew up in a small world but was an explorer by nature. I was always asking questions and looking at the world through my rose-colored creative glasses.

When I turned 13 my world changed with a bar mitzvah. I hadn’t even heard the word until then. My mother sent me off to the party with many questions unanswered. I sat there mesmerized by a strange new language and fascinating traditions. There was so much to take in, from the odd little hat I had to wear to the strange foods I was tasting.

I realized there was much to learn in this world. I vowed to explore as many cultures as I could and found that National Geographic would be my ticket to those faraway places. From those pages I had a glimpse into the colorful and exotic worlds both far and near and, as I grew older and broadened my horizons, I realized that I was living in a melting pot, not just a pot of Sunday gravy.

Colors, textures, customs and traditions along with foods, spices, music and native foliage all play a major role in creating an authentic experience. Today, with the Internet at our fingertips, the world is getting smaller. Do your research. It’s your job as an extension of the host to set the tone for guests. Understanding cultural nuisances and protocol should be high on your list. Then find an element about the culture or demographic you find exciting and run with it. Have fun, be colorful and, at all times, be respectful.