one to watch – Dan Pratley

Full Steam Ahead at Pearce Hire for Dan Pratley

Steam enthusiast Dan Pratley is twenty-three and hails from Thetford, Norfolk. Regular visits to the Weeting Steam Rally near Brandon might not at first glance appear to be connected to a career in production, but as will become clear, they played their part in this professional technician’s journey to being a full time member of staff at Pearce Hire, one of the UK’s leading production specialists…

Dan’s passion for the technical aspects of live events began aged twelve, when he started taping down cables for his high school’s drama and music productions. A deeper interest developed during his school years and led to him study Sound Engineering at Access Creative College Norwich.

“I decided not to go to university and instead started work, aged eighteen, as a technician with Warner Leisure Hotels,” explains Dan. “Although a promotion followed, I’d started to feel like I needed a fresh challenge, so I went along to a Production Futures event at Fly By Nite Studios in the Midlands. The atmosphere on the day blew me away. The assembled companies were like a ‘greatest hits album’ of the industry, with so many networking opportunities – I felt it provided a real stepping stone to directly engage with, and learn more about, some of the leading events industry players.”

It was during this event that Dan spotted a familiar logo, one that he’d seen on the side of some  immaculate blue generators at those Weeting Steam Rally trips. The logo belonged to Pearce Hire, and Dan struck up a conversation with MD Shaun Pearce (fellow steam enthusiast) and Jim Brown (not a steam enthusiast) about possible opportunities with the company. He is in no doubt that this personal connection was invaluable in shaping his future:

“I’m not sure how valuable it is sending out generic, boring CVs that can never show the real ‘you’ to companies who, more often than not, seem to have a standard stated requirement of ‘three years experience’. In this instance, I was able to have that chat with Shaun and Jim and THEN forward my CV. On that basis, I’m sure the Production Futures events are just as useful to the organisation’s brand partners as they are to the young people who attend.”

Dan’s initial conservation with Pearce Hire took place in late 2019, and early the following year he was invited to a further informal discussion about possible opportunities. That meeting abruptly became a Zoom call when Covid struck and the best laid plans of all and sundry were thrown up in the air. Scrolling forward to July 2021, Dan left his employed position and took to the road for six months as a freelance touring technician, gaining wider experience and working with, amongst others, Russell Watson. He takes up the story:

“After gaining great experience working on tour, I decided to contact Pearce Hire to see if they had any freelance work available. They remembered me, and my diary was quickly filled up with testing and maintenance work until, in April this year, I became a full-time member of staff. It’s been a challenging journey to get where I am, particularly through the pandemic, but thanks to Production Futures, I’ve been able to land a perfect job with an excellent company.”

Looking back on his journey, Dan Pratley is keen to point out to other young people who are considering a career in production that university isn’t the only option, believing that his early hands-on experience was, in many respects, a useful head start:

“I would never rule out the possibility of doing a degree at some point in the future, but personally I’m very glad I took the path I did. As one of the clear beneficiaries of their vision, I’m so grateful for the work that Production Futures has done in connecting young people with our fantastic industry.”

The first Production Futures ON TOUR event of the autumn recently took place at Production Park in Wakefield, where more than six hundred young people attended to explore the opportunities offered by the live event, music, touring, theatre, TV, broadcast and film industries. Pearce Hire were once again present, as was their technician Dan Pratley, this time to provide valuable insights from the other side of the stand:

“It was a great experience to speak with so many of our future professionals at the show and hopefully inspire them to pursue a rewarding career in production. It’s hard to believe that was me only a few years ago!”

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