Andy Nurse is one of the directors at Production Element, a company specialising in fashion and music festival events. Coming from a music and performance background, Andy got his start working for a production company and quickly fell into the sound engineering sector. Eventually, Andy moved on to corporate work and project management. When he decided he wanted to use his creative side more, he teamed up with his co-directors, a veteran stylist and choreographer, respectively, to form Production Element in 2009.
This week on PlannersPod, James speaks with Andy about how events in the fashion industry are put together, why good communication and trust are Andy’s top priorities, amazing advice on how to get into the events world and general tips from the fashion industry.
Production Element creates inspirational, intelligent bespoke events using a multi-disciplinary approach. One thing that sets Andy’s company apart from others in the industry is their ability to provide technical production support in addition to their in-house stylist and choreographer. Production Element is a consultancy company with three core personnel.
They subcontract out other needed positions to trusted people. Andy tells James, “The main thing is having people you trust in the right areas.” Recently Production Element staffed around 78 people for one show, which included the core three personnel, wardrobe mistress and assistants, hair and makeup, stagehands and technical staff.
The fashion shows
With Production Element, Andy has developed a reputation in the fashion industry. They’ve done shows across the UK, including the National Wedding Show, Moda, Coatwalk, and Jewellry Show. During his interview with James, Andy was calling from GMEX in Manchester as they were preparing for their current project.
Andy explains that each show is different, and that his company starts with a concept and design, and works it all the way to the end of the show. The audiences for these shows are anywhere from the general public to industry veterans. Exhibitors purchase “scenes” to show their product, which consists of a certain time limit, or a certain number of models and outfits to display the fashion. Some shows have very tight time constraints, while others offer Andy more freedom and creative control. Andy says that having this creative freedom with sound, music, lighting, stage design, choreography and styling, are what sets the fashion industry apart from corporate event management.
The music festival
Chilfest began a few years ago as an 80s music festival in Tring. Andy and Production Element came on board to help with stage management and soon became artist liaisons, fulfilling the needs of each band. The performers will send what are called “riders” ahead of time to specify their needs technically for the performance, as well as any hospitality desires in their dressing rooms. If these riders aren’t met, the band may not perform, but still get paid. Production Element’s stylist helps set up dressing rooms, and their choreographer helps with greeting and escorting the bands, while Andy runs the technical side of things. Essentially, Production Element is able to fill any role needed by Chilfest’s organiser.
There is a hive of activity behind the scenes at a music festival the size of Chilfest. Each band will have their own technical specifications. With only ten to fifteen minutes in between sets, logistics and organisation are key skills, according to Andy.
Andy’s words of wisdom
Andy had great pieces of advice to give during his chat with James. When starting out, Andy said he did pretty much any job, “and I used that to my advantage, I was working under a lot of people, and I tried to move around departments, just to get the know-how of certain things.” Being able to have the technical know-how is important, he says, but what’s more important is to be very organised, and have the drive and motivation.
Andy adds, “Never be afraid if you don’t know something, because there will always be someone out there who you can trust and rely on.” Take opportunities to learn new things so you have the ability to communicate your wants and needs during the planning process, but rely on others’ expertise. A lot to Andy’s success is feeling free to be open and communicate with people.