The Amazing Adventures
of Sara Corel
A novel by Toomey
Last night after I
sent you my last e-mail, I started thinking about the obnoxious guy dressed in black
(except for his white socks) who made part of your journey unpleasant. It reminded me
of someone I had the misfortune of tangling with about a month ago.
My band was booked to play an awards
banquet for some company's national convention, the culmination of three days of
sales presentations, meetings, motivational sessions and (mostly) drunken revelry.
Our part involved dinner music, followed by walk-up music for the awardees. Sparing
no expense, the company hired some hot-shot producer from LA to manage this
extravaganza. What a jerk! He was like some B-movie caricature.
First of all, he had no idea how to
communicate even the simplest concepts of what he wanted to us Houston
'yokels' involved as local vendors for music, staging, lighting, sound,
follow spots, video, camera operators, props, costumes, etc. (about 80 people
altogether). He may have had some brilliant ideas, but no ever found out what they
were. We were just unbelievably stupid if we couldn't guess exactly what he wanted
without even the slightest coherent clue from him. So it was mostly trial and error.
Come on, we may not be Hollywood, but we've all been doing this kind of thing
for years. Probably more shows than he's ever done (or is likely to do
in Houston again). The guy said 'fanfare' when he meant traveling music;
he said 'jazz' when he meant rock; he hadn't the slightest idea of how
many transitions were involved or how long they would last; I had no cue sheet
at all; as soon as we worked something out that was usable, he changed it.
You would think that the very first resume
item for a producer would be communication skills. Maybe not in LA. Anyway, it got
much worse when the lights went up. I was on the ClearCom circuit so I could get
music cues. It was utter chaos. First of all, he was working off a laptop that was
supposed to be able to manage a lot of the electronic events, such as the
video screens (using PowerPoint, I think). Crash city — I'm betting
operator error. Paper backup was way up in his hotel suite, and that had been
changed in ways he didn't know about. There were manual backups for everything,
but his instructions to the various operators were pure gibberish,
accompanied by screaming fits of profanity. He spent more time personally
insulting every member of the crew than he did directing them. His assistant quit
half way through and evidently went back to LA on the next available flight.
So we stupid Houston cretins finally just
did what we had to do — without him. There was the brief sound of a couple of dozen
ClearComs hitting the floor, and then the show went on. We figured out our own cues.
Music started and stopped in perfect sequence. Videos rolled. Cameras zoomed and
panned, dissolving from one shot to another in complete harmony. Slides, uh,
slid. Mic gains were adjusted, lights went up, down and all around.
Lasers twirled, confetti cannons popped, pyrotechnics blasted. One of our
local celebrity news guys (a weatherman, actually) crumpled up his now
useless script, adjusted his hair helmet, cranked up his neon smile and winged
it perfectly. The crowd never knew anything was amiss. Of course they were
so plastered by now, they couldn't have noticed anyway.
The evening was a complete success. Guess
who got all the credit? Yup, Mr. Producer Guy.
That's why he gets the big bucks.
© Patrick Hill, 2000