My first taste of "AV" work was when I was in High School helping out with the school bands, school plays etc. Then, I answered an advertisement in the local paper that was looking for volunteers at my local theatre company.
To begin with I was working as a set builder and painter, as that was my original passion (and yes, I can still build and paint!). Gradually I started hanging out with the Production crew and would help them to push cases and to set up lighting equipment.
I loved everything about being inside a theatre, and everything that happens to put on a show.
Volunteering was beneficial for me, as I got to get my hands on equipment and got to setup lights and sound equipment, which was a great introduction before jumping into the big world of production.
As I enjoyed it so much, I started contacting every AV company in Melbourne and was offered a Traineeship with an international company who I worked with for a couple of years (until they eventually went into receivership). This was my first real taste of the professional world.
I remember my first event was a promo event for Human Nature at Highpoint Shopping Centre. I was more Star Struck than anything. I was only assisting, but I was lost for words when I got to meet the guys (I was 17 and into pop music, don't judge me).
So officially, I’ve completed the Traineeship and a couple small courses but nothing formal... Back when I was getting into the AV industry there wasn’t really anything formal offered, and what was on offer was looked down on by those in the industry.
All of my current skill sets and knowledge has been accumulated on the job. And look where I am working today… The best venue in Victoria!
Learning by physical experience was great; I was never really an academic type. Learning from real life situations and being hands on is by far the best way to learn, for me. And over the years, the best advice I have received is "You are only as good as your last event”. You can do 1000 perfect events, but if you stuff up one… that's the one people will remember. Its one of those industries that, if you’re doing it right, people barely notice you. A perfect event is when people are too busy enjoying themselves to notice the blood, sweat and sometimes tears that have gone into the production behind the scenes.
Yes, working in this Industry, we have a lot of challenges. The biggest ones for me are the long hours and early starts... I do love my sleep ins!
But the Entertainment industry is so unique and every single day is different. One day you are planning something in the office, the next you are working on a concert for 5000 people... I still LOVE my job.
Looking back, there have been so many amazing events. But I think touring with Channel V, doing a promo tour, has to take the cake. It had fun crew, great bands, and we got to visit great sites around Australia.
This was my first experience touring too. Life on the road was challenging, demanding and rewarding all at the same time. We always had such a limited time to do anything. From the moment you roll into a venue to the moment the show starts you are on a tight deadline to get the job done.
I found the bond with all the crew was quite amazing, you become like family. And considering you are spending every moment with them, sleeping in trucks and busses, you don't have anywhere to escape if you don't like anyone!
I love the variety in what we do. And the fact that I am good at what I do is a plus!
I enjoy being part of the team here at CVA. Everyone gets along and it's just a fun place to come to work. The company genuinely cares about all the staff, and it has a real personal touch, you don't get that anymore.
Ultimately, I look forward to the end of the event, pushing the final case into the truck or the storeroom. It’s that's sense of achievement that the event is complete. All the hard work leading up to it has paid off, and its time to start planning the next event.... Or catch up on some much needed sleep!
-Mark Wilkins (Production Supervisor, CVA Federation Square)