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Andy George

Andy George, Production Manager

BA Drama, graduated in 2011

Andy George is a freelance Production Manager. To reveal expert advice from Andy, click on the questions below.

[Q] What are the day-to-day tasks when working in your sector?

[A]
- Managing the production budget whilst still achieving the show’s ambitions.
- Managing the set construction, technical and design departments and installs; including hiring and obtaining all technical equipment.
- Chief liaison between venue and production team.
- Overseeing and enforcing fire and health & safety requirements; including writing risk assessments, booking training courses, maintaining records, managing fire, evacuation and health & safety equipment and processes.
- Project management of several specific custom builds.
- Responsible for completing all licence applications (personal, premises, planning permissions, and temporary events notices) as well as the enforcement of the licensing requirements.
- Chief point of contact for liaising with local fire, police, and environmental health departments, as well as the surrounding community and local residents.
- Coordinating and facilitating the 'get in' and 'get out' for each show including booking staff, materials, access equipment, and transport.

[Q] Do I need specific experience to work in your sector?

[A] Yes – you need to have at least some experience in delivering the production elements of a live show or event. 

Experience in accounting procedures, health and safety, technical theatre, and construction are also desirable but if you don’t have these you can seek advice from others who do.

[Q] What skills and qualities do I need to work in your sector?

[A] 
- Ability to multi-task and deliver on simultaneous deadlines.
- Cool head under pressure.
- Versatility to work to different environments, requirements, and objectives.
- Good, clear communication and negotiation skills – knowing how to be able to negotiate out of tight situations is essential.
- Lateral thinking – being able to think of alternative solutions to overcome challenges and obstacles that inevitably arise.
- Experience and knowledge across many areas including technical theatre, construction, health and safety, accounting procedures, and budgeting.
- Good people management skills.
- Ability to form good working relationships with employers and suppliers.

[Q] Do I need a specific degree to work in your sector?

[A] No – experience is more important than a degree in this job/sector. Although some employers would welcome seeing a technical theatre degree whereas others just want to see your past successes.

[Q] What are the perks of being in your sector?

[A]
- Working on some of the most exciting, and most talked about shows in the country.
- Working with some great people who all really want to be there – everyone is passionate about what they are doing – they wouldn’t be there if they weren’t. In that sense, you don’t get many people moaning about their job as you might in an office say. The challenges and obstacles change from show to show (that’s why I love working freelance) so I never get bored. It means I’m always learning too which is great. I never want to be bored or stop learning so this job is perfect for that.

[Q] What are the downsides of working in your sector?

[A] The pay isn’t always great – more often than not it doesn’t reflect the super long hours that it requires from you. But producers will keep employing you if they like you and you work hard so the money does start coming eventually. It’s also nice to know that the people you are working with are there because they want to be rather than just for the money. It means you’re generally working with nice, creative people who are passionate about what they do.

The hours are often crazy. I’ve worked 120 hour weeks before which is obviously not healthy to maintain. But as long as you look after yourself; sleep, eat, and take enough breaks you will get through it and have a great feeling of satisfaction on the other side. 

[Q] Where can I find out which are the best companies to work for?

[A] Word of mouth is the best really. Just because a company makes a great show, it doesn’t mean they are good to work for. Ask people who have worked in the industry for recommendations, see who they enjoy working for. The great thing about this sector is that you’re normally only a couple of degrees of separation from anyone or anywhere in the industry and the circle gets smaller as you get more experience.

[Q] Do I have to work in London to be in your sector?

[A] It helps to get going. I didn’t really want to move to London but I don’t think I would be where I am in my career today if I hadn’t.

[Q] Where can I look for jobs?

[A] There are lots of theatre and arts specific job websites: (IdeasTap, Stage Jobs Pro, Guardian Jobs, Arts Hub, Arts Jobs, The Stage) so it’s good to check these regularly.

Try and keep your ear to the ground too to hear if a company you like may be starting production on a new show anytime soon.

[Q] DOs and DON'Ts of applying for jobs in your sector:

[A]
DO – Be confident in your ability. It can be sometimes quite daunting and it’s easy to feel under qualified when you’re starting out, but even if you aren’t suitable for a specific job at that stage, if you apply anyway it puts you on that company’s radar and potentially could bring more work in the future.

DO – isolate areas where your skills or experience lack and work to bulk up these areas. In between jobs I try to review which areas I could improve and sometimes do work experience or reading in these areas to improve my skills and experience. In my job, the more well-rounded and versatile you are, the more employable you are.

DON’T – Don’t take on too much at once. Don’t underestimate how much time something will take until you have more experience to be able to predict it better. If you can’t deliver due to over commitments, producers or companies won’t want to work with you again and building up those kind of contacts and relationships is vital to being able to work freelance.

DON’T – Don’t undervalue yourself. If you have the skills, make sure people don’t abuse that or walk all over you and underpay you. It’s too easy for people to not pay you or pay you very little for your work and, especially at the start of your career, it’s hard to turn down work, however well paid or not. But know when the time is right to demand more for yourself.