In the first of our series of Freelance Spotlights, we meet freelance tour and production manager Theo Smith. In his own words,” I tour manage and production manage Shift K3y and Disciples and have tour managed DJ Fresh, Wilkinson and ANiMAL Music.
I have produced live streams for One Direction, Ella Henderson, Chic and Labrinth and worked on an array of multi-camera live music and corporate events. I also produce private events for high-net-worth individuals.”
We caught up with him during some downtime and posed him a few questions about his life and work.
Why do you live the freelance lifestyle? What is it about this way of working that keeps you energised?
I work freelance because working across different disciplines and with very varied teams makes me better at my job while developing a breadth of experience no single role could fulfil. I rarely work less than 75 hours a week and so the idea of a 37.5 hour working week in the same office is actually a bit of a joke to me!
What do you think makes a great freelancer in the events industry?
Turn up on time, knowing your specialism, knowing your job that day, with kit that works, that’s ready to go, while being polite and low key.
In a word, professionalism. It’s so rare to find, that you can progress quickly through the industry just by acting professionally at all times while at work or with work colleagues.
What areas do you think you can improve at?
I’m currently working on my 3D design/CAD for producing events and stage designs.
If there was one thing you wish clients knew about freelancers, what would that be?
I’m freelance: if its not nice to work for you, be it the team, chasing late payments, poor organisation or them rolling over for their clients, I’ll just go somewhere else. And we all talk about who’s the best and who’s the worst to work for!
What kind of people shouldn’t get into the freelance game?
If you struggle with budgeting and get cold sweats from looking at an empty calendar and empty bank balance, this is not your game. You have to have emotional stability and be prepared to spend a vast amount of time on your own. So personal admin and little things like household chores need to just be done without thought, so you have more time to focus on your career and less time procrastinating on Netflix…
What kind of people are best suited to this lifestyle?
Self motivators who have a clear view of where they want to be, even if that direction changes while their career develops. Freelancers can always tell you what their next challenge is, and it’s that hope that gets you through dry spells and doubting yourself.
What makes the perfect client?
Tell me what you want me to do. Tell me how much you have to do it. As a freelancer, you will spend your life trying to get these two simple questions answered.
How do you see the state of the UK events industry at the moment?
There are a couple of disruptive technologies entering the market, for example live streaming, cheaper video cameras, wireless battery lighting and some of the audio and video transmission over IP which will mean there is an onus put on venues to update their local area network infrastructure, while the introduction of LED fixtures means that overall power consumption is coming down for venues.
EventProFinder is currently in the beta phase of development, and we would love you to be part of it. You can sign up right here. For your efforts, we will be giving you a ton of free access once the site is up and running (6 – 10 months), but hopefully you see this as a way to help the #eventprofs community too.