I truly believe that a production can only be as good as the plan going into it. Someone once told me that this entire industry has changed in the last 10 years from 10% pre-production and 90% production to 90% pre-production and 10% production. As a director, the more information I have the better show I can direct.
Communication: There are times when there is a disconnect between talent and tech. Sometimes it is like we are in entirely different worlds and we don’t like them to cross. But the more cross communication that happens between talent and tech, the better. As tech, understanding what the Talent is going to do allows us to do our job better, but we also need to tell them what we need from them in order to support them better.
Talent and tech shouldn’t be separate; they are really on a team together, both are trying to create a great experience for those attending. Think of two cars heading towards the same destination. If both of them have maps, it doesn’t matter who leads, or if they get separated for a moment, both cars will get to their destination. But if only 1 car has the map, then 1 car has to follow the other car. The car in the back is always trying to anticipate the next turn and never really knows where they are going, and if they were to get separated at all, could result in a car getting lost.
What information: So what kind of information needs to be communicated. At Eagle brook we pretty much have a rule that every person that is on stage goes up with a well-rehearsed plan. From music to message, nothing is just winged! As a tech team we have a word-for-word script for all music and speakers that is followed. With music we know the BPM, full arrangement, who is playing the instrumental solos, for how long and any other information about the songs being played. Pastors give us a fully written script of their sermon or announcements, word-for-word, with all the side screens, lower thirds and video elements included. Some of you reading this think this is a little excessive, and it may be a little, but as a director, all this information is extremely useful. I know who is going to be doing what, which helps me plan camera shots, camera angles, when to send up graphics, and so much more. Rather than anticipating what someone is going to do, I know what they are going to do, and because of that, the show becomes seamless.
Tech talk: There also needs to be communication within the tech team. Everyone needs to plan the look, feel and sound of the production so that they make transitions together and with unity. An example of this is: lighting, audio and video all need to know where people are going to be placed on the stage and agree on the positioning in order to get the right audio lines there, the people lit and the right camera shots. Video and lighting need to coordinate colors to make everything match, and transition smoothly.
Use the information: The last piece to all this information is using it during the production. Have someone that reads the script. Some people call this person a producer, or an assistant director. The goal of this person is to keep everyone one step ahead of the production so they know what is going to happen next. Then they walk through the transitions with everyone in order to make them seamless. At Eagle brook we have a full time service planner that gathers the information and then reads it back during the production to keep everyone on task, ahead of the game, and working together.
Again, I truly believe that a production is only as good as the plan going into it. If your sick and tired of a sub par production or if you want to take your production to the next level, increase your plan. Gather more information and find a way to use it to your advantage to make your production better. If you can, work in a dress rehearsal to make sure you have the plan right, and practice always helps.