Real Skills at the Future Music Festival
Wouldn't it be great if your job was to work at cool events like the Future Music Festival? Apart from earning some major bragging rights to impress your friends (and make them a little bit jealous), working behind the scenes really does give you a new appreciation for how much time and effort actually goes into organising such a huge event.
It's not a perspective that we festival goers usually get to see, but I was lucky enough to accompany Odelia Susanto, the winner of Skills Victoria's Real Skills Facebook competition, on her backstage experience at Melbourne's Future Music Festival on Sunday 13 March 2011.
We were there to find out what goes on behind the scenes of such an epic music festival, and more importantly, how could someone get to work on a project like that?
Going behind the scenes
The first part of our experience started on the Wednesday morning before the festival. 22-year-old Odelia from Hawthorn had won Skills Victoria's Real Skills Facebook competition and had actually just returned from volunteering at the Soundwave festival in three different states.
When we arrived we were inducted by the safety officer, Liam Sutherland, and given flashy yellow safety vests to wear like all the other workers on the site. Liam was our tour guide for the day, and our tour began by walking through the areas where the main stages were being set up.
At this point Melbourne's Flemington Racecourse looked more like a construction zone than a decked-out festival site. There were trucks, forklifts and machinery everywhere, and all sorts of vehicles manoeuvring between piles of equipment and materials.
There were many structures around the festival site that were being built, such as the Flamingo and Likes of You stages, the VIP and First Class tents, the Silent Disco tent, and the bar and food areas. Busy workers were swarming around everywhere putting things together.
Back in the main staff office the site manager, Eugene Brouwer, gave Odelia and me the chance to flick through a three-inch folder containing Future Music Festival's Place Of Public Entertainment files (POPE). The folder outlined every licence, permit, and application that was needed to run the music festival.
The POPE folder covered everything from food permits, alcohol licensing, sound permits, numbers of security, numbers of toilets, first aid, and the hire and construction of stages and tents. We were amazed at the number of aspects there were for organising such a large-scale music festival.
The second part of our experience was a tour of the Future Music Festival site a few hours before the gates opened on Sunday. This time our tour guide was Simon Cahill, the festival's partnership director. Everything was just about finished by this point, and the transformation of Flemington Racecourse was quite dramatic compared to what we had last seen earlier in the week.
As the starting time drew closer, Simon also explained the logistical nightmares often faced when coordinating a national tour. When equipment had to be packed up at night and transported interstate for the following morning, it meant a lot of time and logistical pressures.
Last-minute checks were done by Victoria Police to make sure everything on site was safe and ready to be opened up to the public. Eager punters were already lining up at the gates. Some 50,000 tickets had reportedly been sold for the Melbourne show - 180,000 tickets were sold nationally! The show was about to begin and Odelia and I certainly had a new appreciation for the amount of work that had been put in to organise it.
How do you end up working at an event like this?
We asked Liam and Simon how the workers had come to be working at a major event like Future Music Festival.
For some of the more technical and specialised areas, the best way to really get into the job is to do an apprenticeship or a course of study where you learn new skills and upgrade existing ones. This could include anything from a music qualification, sound engineering, event management, marketing, business, public safety, security or first aid.
Other festival roles were gained by working up through the music and entertainment industry. Most of the people that Odelia and I spoke to throughout the day placed a big emphasis on making plenty of good contacts on the job, showing lots of initiative, working hard, and knowing your stuff and being genuinely good at what you do.
There are many ways to get into your dream job, and to get there you'll probably end up doing a bunch of different jobs along the way. It certainly pays to have a qualification or apprenticeship to equip you with the skills needed to get the job you want. It also gives you a fair amount of practical and hands-on experience, which is highly regarded and can be the difference between getting that job or missing out.
To find out more about the kinds of TAFE courses that might lead to work on music festivals, check out the Skills Victoria website (new window).
Articles Written by Ruth
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