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The Event NON-Planner

Clint Kaster • June 2021My Rant • June 11, 2021

Note: Author Clint Kaster wrote this about a nightmarish pre-pandemic gig and we’re presenting this recollection of some of the fun we all can look forward to once the deluge of gigs return — hopefully, sooner rather than later.

Why? Why, you might ask yourself, does this guy continually ask for a schedule of the event that starts earlier than guest arrival? Doesn’t that all just happen by itself?

Twenty Questions

Well, let’s allow this morning to speak to the subject. It’s a day-prior load-in and set, which is just so wonderful. When the script arrived two (!) days before the show, it began, as they do, with “5:30 pm — Guests Arrive.” My question to the client was a simple “does anything else happen prior to that? Do your volunteers arrive to set table centerpieces? Does the band do a sound check? Does the CEO expect to be able to run through his presentation in the middle of the time allotted to the band? What time does the stage go down? Does the house need clear space for a lift to install lighting at a particular time? When does the decorator arrive and why, for the love of god are all the damned chairs down in a capacity room when we show up to disturb them all?” I confirmed with her that we would arrive at 10 a.m., which sounded good to her, as it turned out, because she anticipated everyone arriving at 10 a.m. Had I known this, we might have slid one way or another.

When I received the first draft of the script, my client also had a query about the space we needed for screens and speakers because they were adding more tables to a room already very near capacity. I gave her the information, with some wiggle room, and requested that she keep me updated on final floor plan. I haven’t yet checked my email from post-2 a.m., but it’s always a chuckle when I get onsite and they ask if I got the email they sent at 4 a.m. Ya know? No, I didn’t.

Loading Dock

Today’s moment was the decorator arriving at the one-hole loading dock moments after our truck was on. He was in a hurry. We had a lot of stuff. But here’s the thing. I have a crew to unload and clear the dock. He was by himself, and my experience with decorators leads me to believe that their empty trucks on docks tend to remain at rest. As an aside, I continue to find it amazing that anyone can look at a one-hole dock and just think, “I should go to lunch somewhere far, far away with the keys in my pocket,” yet it seems to happen every week or so.

Program Material

Let’s talk about YouTube. Is that a real content source? Really? I’m sure someone is going to show up in the comments and explain exactly how you can download something on the fly from YouTube and have it be a perfectly crisp HD video. I am really that old. But to me it speaks of the level of prep that the client has done. “I found it on YouTube during the meeting we had three months ago and I saved the link!” No, seriously. No.

And how about that magic Google Drive? Why does it always seem that GDrive wants to refuse me permission when I sign in at the last minute from a new location? Or, as it did the other day, inform me that this content is not downloadable or edit-able but merely viewable. Or, as it did just earlier, tell me that it had downloaded an image to my phone, from whence I could Airdrop it to the laptop it needed to live in. But I couldn’t find the damned image. Wouldn’t it go to Photos? Camera Roll? Lightroom? C’mon… just be somewhere. Mainly, I’d like it to be on a thumb drive that the client has approved and checked prior to handing it to me.

Ins and Outs

Oh, damn. Really? There’s an event that wants to load-in immediately after ours? Why did the sales manager fail to mention this? They calmly explain that my client’s event ended at 9:45 p.m., and they had booked the room until 10 p.m., so we were in the way. And they’d be charging us some exorbitant rate for a last-minute rental extension. And it was obvious that this entire set was going to up and disappear like smoke on a cloudless night within moments of the final bell. I mean, who wouldn’t think that? My favorite in recent years was the venue manager who loudly complained that she wasn’t going to make it to the bars before closing time because we had “four or five guys just standing around coiling cable” after a three-day build. The guests left about midnight and, yes, it was going to take us a couple hours to undo three days of work.

Good night, my friends. Have dreams of gigs of smooth entrances, wide loading doors and working elevators. Sweet, sweet dreams.

Clint Kaster operates Portland, OR-based SmartTech AudioVisual (www.smarttechav.com).

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