EVENT PRODUCTION – Jordan Lopez takes the lead

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Summer will shortly begin to wane and outdoor gigs, large or small, have been plentiful but that’s not to say events will decrease in the coming autumn and beyond… About to make a big splash now, two big ones: the MTV Gibraltar Calling Music Festival and our annual National Day celebrations. This year, there’s an added event coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Referendum, the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra is performing for us at the Victoria Stadium… What a treat! A few weeks go by and we have the Gibraltar Theme Painting Exhibition. Moving on into the ‘darker’ months, we can expect the Gibunco Literary Festival in November, all the smaller attractions popping up at the John Mackintosh and Ince’s Hall and then it’s Christmas – Panto season, magic shows and more… busy, busy busy!

The word ‘organisation’ is sticking in my brain. Who gets the ball rolling to produce a show or an event? Where does it all start? It usually falls on the lap of one of the Rock’s production companies. You may be a brave soul and want to have a bash at it yourself, but be warned, experience and professionalism for this type of job – even locally nowadays – is paramount; “I’m just slightly exaggerating when I say there are a million things to tie up when putting on a show,” GibMedia Director, Jordan Lopez tells me, “The bigger the event, the more you need to think about and when guest artists from abroad are booked, your list of ‘things to do’ increases substantially! Long gone are the days when a couple of speakers and a microphone on a small stage did the trick. These days, a large stage, professional sound and lighting equipment are extremely important if you want your show to be a success, and that’s not including the health and safety measures which have to be put in place even before plugging in a microphone!”

Jordan’s interest in production management took root at a very early age… “When my parents took me to see a show, the actual event became secondary. I was more interested in the logistics of how the whole thing was put together, how the stage was constructed, where and how speakers were placed. I was interested in the technical design of it all. That stayed with me to the present day. I moved on to helping out at shows put on by the then Students Association and eventually moved into GBC where I learnt a great deal as a Programme Control Operator (PCO), Audio Visual Assistant (AVA), cameraman and allsorts.” He even had a go at presenting radio and television programmes, so gaining experience in the genre certainly came in handy for what was to come in the future. At GBC, Jordan met Stage One’s, James Neish, assisting him in many important productions and with whom he works closely these days; “I used to help James with his shows especially with the lighting side of things which is what I do a lot of now on his productions and events.”

Jordan set up his own company in 2004 and since it was launched as a limited company in 2007, GibMedia produced a fair amount of successful events. He acknowledges the local scene has improved in leaps and bounds when it comes to show production on the Rock. A demand has been created which didn’t exist before. Travelling abroad, as so many of us do to see shows in London, Amsterdam or Barcelona has meant the same standard is expected when top stars perform here; “Visiting these places has meant learning from what is out there for show producers also, which means ideas and improvements can be incorporated into our own productions where possible,” Jordan asserts.

However, there’s still some way to go, not just on the technical infrastructure side, which is slowly being achieved with regards to stage construction, sound and lighting equipment, visual effects and health and safety, amongst other requirements; “I think there’s a need for a sort of technical GAMPA for performers to learn about the use of mics for example, the different types of mics there are, how to hold them, where not to stand to prevent feedback, what is a monitor, what’s it for, etc etc. It’s the unglamorous side of being a performer. Also, there’s a need for more creative individuals to come forward and get involved in production management,” and, Jordan declares, “What about our new theatre? The Queen’s Cinema is long gone and there doesn’t seem to be any news on the very much needed new building, an indoor venue for visiting acts to perform and the many local productions that are frequently being staged.” Too true, by the time a new one starts to be built and up and running, it’ll be well overdue!

Glancing at the event calendar for the coming months, there’s a lot to choose from for punters to attend and for producers-cum-production managers to get involved in, although much of the work would have been done and dusted weeks and months ago, but there are always loose ends that need tidying up in order to put the production to bed. There’s no doubt producing these shows can be a mammoth undertaking, especially the big ones, and GibMedia Director knows only too well what’s involved but despite the hard work, it can also turn out to be an exciting venture. He has just finished his ‘Summer Nights on Tour’ project and there are others in the pipeline I’m sure; that’s when the planning and headaches begin all over again!

First and foremost, he tells me, there’s the business of securing funds which, I would assume, means obtaining government grants, if they’re available, attracting sponsorship deals and so on; “Yes, to begin with, you need to split your budget under different headings, so much for this and so much for that. Then, negotiating with agents on performers’ fees and details of their technical and other requirements – which they call a ‘rider’. Next, there are the technical and other infrastructure requirements for the show, not to mention those ‘hidden items’ you may not initially think about like food, transport, security, escorts, ushers on the night and accommodation to provide if staying overnight. There’s a lot to think about.”

Yes, it’s all a lot of hard work but hopefully, very little heartache and the shows will be incredible! The fruits of those efforts will be there for all of us to delight in when the productions come our way. Now and for the next few months, there’s plenty to indulge in and relish; make sure you don’t miss out!