January 25, 2023

Producing Magic: A Love Letter from Your Event Production Team

Jeff Bogan
VP, Production

You know them, you depend on them, you find assurance in their deep industry experience and you live for the laughs you have together when things hit that delirious stage of every live event: they are your very talented production team. These operational wizards make up a veritable Swiss Army Knife department, and ours is the best in the business.

Day in and day out, your executive producer oversees this busy team, getting it all done seamlessly—on time and on budget. They are an integral part of the trifecta that all great events are composed of, including your account manager who takes your calls day and night as we shepherd in your ultimate vision and your executive creative director who designs the ultimate experience from start to finish.

From scenic design to labor management and security, production teams have a lot on their plate. So, in the spirit of revealing the department’s inner workings to dial in on how we can all be even more successful together, we’ve mapped out our top five ways to become your production team’s dream client and help your next event run seamlessly.

1. Work It Back Now, Y’all

You’ll hear your production team use the term “workback” a LOT. But what does that mean and why is it so important? To start, the production team looks at your event timeframe and then sets an install date. The install date can vary, but it’s typically two to three days ahead of your event. From that install date, we work backward (you’ve got it, “workback”) to create your pre-production timeline. The desired start for installation is key for dictating the terms of your venue contract, too. Getting this right from the get-go is paramount to avoiding costly overtime labor. More on that below.

The second most important date in the workback schedule is roughly 30 days out from installation. This is when we need the full picture of your content, both digital and physical including multimedia deliverables, signage, speaker details, presentation content, apps and more. Not setting clear deadlines and expectations for these elements can have larger ramifications on time and budget. But never fear—we’re masters at what we do! We consider all angles so that we can avoid any of these missteps along the way.

2.  Time Equals Money

As most things go, it’s safest to assume everything takes more people and money than you might guess. When building out your budget and timeline, we always consider what’s going to give you the best possible outcome—building in smart contingency plans along the way.

Now, let’s say you missed an important approval deadline or need last-minute changes to your event. While these things happen, it also means that your budget and timeline might need to adjust. (Click here to see how to avoid this with your creative elements.) The best way to think of this is like a ripple effect. Every drop creates a new and potentially bigger ripple for your production team to mitigate. For instance, do the trucks need to be rescheduled? Are there new signs being printed that require a rush fee? Are we adding to the crew the week before? Tightly managing shipping, travel and manpower are the tenets of keeping your project on track and under budget.

3. Expectation vs. Reality

Maybe you just saw Cirque du Soleil on ice through VR, and you’re thinking it would be a great addition for your next corporate event. While our team has produced concerts with dozens of top-name performers, built literal ice rinks and developed VR/AR experiences, employing those skill sets costs time and money that may not best align with your budget and needs.

Cheap, fast or good: you can only pick two. You can have something cheap and fast, fast and good, or good and cheap. But that third thing will always have to give a little. 

At Hartmann Studios, we prioritize producing events with the highest production quality possible, but we also understand that we have to work within realistic parameters.

The most important takeaway is to make sure to communicate your expectations clearly, aligning them to the resources your production team has to work with. Amazing experiences are more than possible on smaller budgets. They simply require a little more of that production magic to source the perfect venues and menus, develop the conference apps and find the right attendee-engaging opportunities.

The good news? We’ve got that in spades.

4.  Rentals vs. Custom Builds

When discussing cost and expectations, it’s worth comparing the difference between renting and creating custom builds for your staging and set designs. The best answer often includes a combination of the two, but by and large, renting is usually cheaper, saves time and will be more environmentally friendly—but it won’t be as customizable.

On the other hand, a custom build can demand a larger budget and isn’t generally reusable, but the overall experience, impact and outcome is unmatched. It’s all about what you’re looking for.

If you’re in need of some inspiration, read more about our staging design capabilities here

5. Clearly Communicating What You Want

It helps production teams immensely when they’re brought into the communication loop sooner rather than later. They speak the same language as the creative department and love to anticipate roadblocks so they can knock them down in order to deliver a flawless experience. This helps save time and money in the long run, too. (Are you sensing a theme?)

The clearer you can communicate your wants and needs, the easier it will be for your production team to help you create the event of your dreams. Don’t forget: we’re all in this together.

With love,
Your dream team

Looking to level up your next event? Let’s chat!

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