Ryan McClintock, 27

Ryan graduated from Backstage Academy back in 2017, and he has certainly been busy ever since!  We caught up with him before he headed off to his role as Site Office Manager at this years Parklife Festival, Manchester. 

How did your passion for the production industry begin?
I was Stage & Production Manager for a couple of amateur musical shows and theatre performances at local venues in my hometown and my High School & 6th Form college between the ages of 11-18 / from years 2006-2013, but my passion had really always been in music & live events as opposed to theatre. When working on our school performances, I was always more interested in the logistics of our set builds, the mechanics of how the backstage area was managed, and the schedule of show installs/load-ins for example – as opposed to the Producer running through the script with the show cast or similar. Shortly after leaving sixth form in 2013, I had to step away from events and have a forced short-hiatus from any work, due to some health issues. Following an operation in early 2015 at the age of 20, I regained my health, and within a short space of time I was fortunate enough to get involved with my first event, a charity fundraiser at my local cinema, acting as co-production manager with the cinema’s manager Keri Proud. The event coincided with the release of the James Bond Spectre film in October, and we used this opportunity to raise funds for a local cancer hospice.

After some brief planning it became apparent the event would be heavy on Production & logistical aspects, and require liaison with the City Council and local SAG groups to gain permissions, due to us planning to use a professional stunt team to jump off the 6.5metre roof of the building onto a moving Aston Martin, and a g-flame bar fitted to the back of the vehicle which shot flames into the sky as the audience stood and watched a full choreographed stunt performance. I was responsible for liaising with the SAG groups and City Council and arranging the road closure, with all associated paperwork and securing the relevant contractors to support the event free of charge. The event was a massive success drawing in over 3,500 spectators and raising thousands of pounds for the hospice in the form of donations, themed cocktail sales, raffles, croupier games and more. Additionally, the local independent cinema experienced its busiest night on record for 15 years with all 4 screenings (606 people) completely sold out for the national release of Spectre at 8:00pm. The success of the charity night was highlighted in local and regional media. This event really inspired me to continue down the production route (not really knowing what it actually was at the time!), which led me to exploring FE/HE options after initially being against the idea of ever going to university. After a few days of searching, I found Backstage Academy University, specialists in Live Events educational degree courses including Stage & Production Management, which is where I began my degree shortly after in 2016.

How did you get into the production industry?
Within my first year at University, I applied for as many industry opportunities as possible across a range of job roles, to try and gain more exposure, experience, and get a better understanding of what type of backgrounds I wanted to work across as my career progressed. My first ‘big’ Live Event was Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Hull in 2017, working for SUPERFRIENDZ as Artist Liaison. It was also during 2017 and at the end of my first year of uni that I was tasked with Project & Production Managing the University’s full programme of freshers week events for the incoming cohort of students, alongside the graduating cohorts Graduation Ceremony, which was being delivered in Production Park’s Studio 001 arena-sized rehearsal facility for the first time, during the same week as Freshers Week. I spent 6 months planning both of these events, responsible for all production/project management, budgets, sponsorship & fundraising, venue management, logistics, supplier outreach, and some elements of marketing. Freshers Week consisted of 25 smaller events throughout the week and I was supported on this with individual event-planning teams. I had also continued to work several other external events and festivals over the summer. It was a super busy 6 months! The Graduation Ceremony and Freshers weeks both received great feedback from the relevant student cohorts and were featured in local and regional news as well as industry publications, and I was later awarded the TPi Production Futures Breakthrough Award for my “contribution towards production management” on these events.

These work opportunities were initially mainly advertised by my university at the time. Some placements were paid and others weren’t – but they were all worth it due to the exposure of working amongst industry professionals and the networking opportunities when on-site. Engaging and talking to these other companies and freelancers when on-site enabled me to relatively quickly begin building my own network up, which ultimately led to further paid placements and work opportunities gained independently of my university. This route into the industry actually rather unexpectedly launched my freelance career – I’d initially always intended to gain a full-time job role after securing my degree and I didn’t really know *anything* about being self-employed at the time. So, I researched what I needed to do to become self-employed; and found the key points to be registering with HMRC as an independent contractor, purchasing PLI, and setting up an invoicing & expenses system and/or using an accountant. Six years later, my career continues to broaden working for a wider range of clients and having an increased responsibility on each project. I feel incredibly fortunate to freelance for several trailblazing companies that really value my work as a freelancer, they’re well-known & well-respected within the industry and employ renowned staff including Production & Site Managers amongst many other roles, and I get to be involved with some of the UK’s biggest festivals, productions and corporate events. And due to being freelance, I continue to gain exposure across a variety of backgrounds of the industry including live events, festivals and corporate, helping to continually broaden my skill-set.

Did you even know then how to start your career?
Nope! As mentioned above, I really didn’t know where to start other than officially registering as self-employed and getting my systems up and running. Within my first couple of years I was taking as many jobs as I could, just to try and gain exposure across a variety of backgrounds and get a better understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses and preferred areas of work. I knew I’d always had a strong interest in production, operations, logistics and anything related so I wanted to explore opportunities in these working backgrounds further. I started to become slightly more ‘selective’ over the types of opportunities I was applying for as I was progressing in the industry, to focus my skill-set in specific areas and gain more experience of these production & logistical type roles. Choosing this approach lead me onto opportunities such as working as the Site & Production Office coordinator for Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” 2018 UK arena shows at Leigh Sports Ground with Dick Tee & Overnight Assistant Artist Office Coordinator at Standon Calling Festival 2018 with Frankie Tee from EnTEEtainment, Site Office Assistant at Parklife Festival for Engine No. 4 / Jim Gee, and Head Talent Liaison Manager / Artist Logistics & Transport Manager for GOOGLE’s UK Christmas Party in 2019 on behalf of Owl Live, a corporate events agency – amongst others. Since the industry has reopened following the pandemic, I still carry out many of the same roles at these events and for these companies/clients, but I have progressed into higher roles of responsibility. such as Site Office Manager, Senior Project Coordinator & Project Manager for example.

What course did you study?
I studied the Stage and Production Management BA Honours degree at Backstage Academy from years 2016-2019. Our Production Park campus was also home to Brilliant Stages / TAIT, Production Park Studios & many other live events focused businesses which really immersed us in the industry from early on as students. It created a platform for collaborative working approaches, enabling cross-cohort working, and created regular opportunities for us to engage with professional live events businesses & get involved in real industry events and projects. During my time studying at the Academy, I was tutored by industry professionals, such as Zoe Hodge (Stage & Production Management lecturer, Glastonbury ‘The Park Stage’ Production Manager), Sara Gleadhall (now at Global Motion), and our campus managing director Glen Rowe (Ex MUSE Tour Director, founder of NEKO Trust/NEKO Training), to name a few.

Was there anyone who influenced you along the way to get to where you are today?
Several individuals and companies have inspired me throughout my work career and continue to do so; including my mum, Laura Saltariche & Jill Bowers (my school performing arts teachers & staff members I worked most closely with on all school shows), Keri Proud (manager of Morecambe Cinema with whom I ran the Spectre Charity Event and other local amateur productions), Glen Rowe, Sara Gleadhall & Zoe Hodge as mentioned above, other industry professionals & companies such as EnTEEtainment, Engine No.4, I could go on.

My biggest inspiration is possibly my old Chemistry teacher Mrs. Lowe, who told me repeatedly throughout the years of high school “don’t go into events, there’s no money in it and the job roles are limited.” Oh, how wrong she was!

How old were you when you won your Breakthrough Talent Award back in 2017?

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I’m not sure I can pick just one, this is a difficult question! I’m incredibly proud of the work I did for a corporate events agency Owl Live; coordinating all flights, ground transport, accommodation & hospitality for all performing artists (including Salt N Pepa), flying into the UK from multiple locations including the U.S, Canada & Greece, for their client Google UK at their annual ‘Holiday Party. Our venue was Magazine in London Greenwich and The InterContinental Hotel in December 2019. Otherwise, generally it would have to be the festivals I am involved with, mainly Parklife Festival, that I have now been part of the team in some way for 4+ years and will be joining the Engine No. 4 Team for later again this year for my 5th year.
Another highlight is of course being awarded the TPi Breakthrough award back in 2017 for my work on Backstage Academy’s Freshers Week Programme & Graduation Ceremony. I think my real highlights are yet-to-come this year, with an extremely busy year lined up on some super exciting jobs that will see me travelling internationally (providing no restrictions make a comeback)

How have you spent the last two years?
I think similar to a lot of industry colleagues, during the first few months of the pandemic in 2020 I had some enforced time-off from work. Later in the year I started to work on some ad-hoc corporate jobs as a project coordinator, mainly on virtual or hybrid studio events. For the first few months of 2021 I worked with an events staffing agency called Elevate as an Account Executive, who partnered with IDENTITY (the agency responsible for delivering the recent G7 Cornwall summit), on the UK Government’s “Get Ready For Brexit” Department for Transport (DfT) campaign. We were remotely managing approx 200 staff across 50 temporary information & advice centres, strategically situated across the country next to motorways and key shipping or port locations. These I&A centres were staffed with Elevate’s trained multilingual brand ambassadors that were on hand to assist truck drivers and ensure the paperwork, carnets and legislation they were adhering to were correct, following the UK leaving the EU, and were responsible for informing drivers of the required resolution if their shipments or loads were incorrect, paperwork or otherwise. After completing this campaign with Elevate I moved onto working with another corporate agency between April to September, on several projects including a live-streamed awards ceremony for Domino’s Pizza staff around the UK, with Vernon Kay & Paddy McGuinness as the award show presenters.

In September 21 as the industry had almost fully re-opened by this point, I had gone back full-time freelance & onto the festival circuit for the last couple of months, Site Office Managing Parklife Festival for Engine No.4. After Parklife I continued to work with Engine No.4 as Event Control Room Manager across 17 out of 23 Warehouse Project Season ’21 shows from September to December, at Mayfield Depot, mainly on weekends. Also throughout September to December, from Monday-Thursday each week I was working on a corporate campaign for Volvo UK at their multi-million purpose built training and development centre in Daventry, as senior project coordinator. September to December was particularly busy, and I managed to fit in a couple of 1-off gigs alongside the Volvo Campaign and Warehouse Project; including BBC Radio 1’s “Out Out” at Wembley Arena as Artist Liaison on behalf of Superfriendz, and as Assistant Stage Manager at the GAYTIMES Honours Awards Ceremony at Magazine London, on behalf of Goodchild Event Agency. I then had a brief rest over the Christmas period.

For the first few months of 2022 I have been working on & recently delivered my first corporate event as a fully-fledged Project Manager, working for the agency SimplyBetter. We hosted an exclusive VIP launch party event for SimplyBetter’s client Hermes, one of the UK’s biggest Parcel courier firms, to highlight their company rebrand to ‘EVRi’ for internal and external stakeholders, partners and senior staff. I was involved in this project from pitch, through to creative concept and delivery; responsible for the overall budget, supplier onboarding & management, client comms, venue liaison and transport/logistics.

What was your highlight of 2021?
My highlight of 2021 would have to be when the industry was given the “green-light” by the Government to fully reopen around July, and shortly after back out working in the festival fields, connecting with colleagues that I hadn’t seen for 18 months. The energy at Parklife 2021 from the attendees and being back amongst industry colleagues was a stark reminder of why I love my job so much.

Any advice to anyone who wants to work in this industry?
Networking is key. Volunteer for opportunities, attend events such as Production Futures and other industry focused networking sessions. Try to target conversations with departments, freelancers or companies that are relevant to the areas of work you’re interested in – but generally engaging with other departments or companies that may not always seem relevant to your field of work is vitally important too. Opportunities arise from conversations that are least expected!

Joining online event forums on social media and blogs I have also found really useful resources. I often see job advertisements here, or just industry colleagues offering each other support or guidance, discussing large upcoming events, etc.

Wherever networking & the opportunity arises, ask suppliers or companies if they’re willing to accept your CV or contact details etc. Be forthcoming on your availability.

Wherever networking & the opportunity arises, ask suppliers or companies if they’re willing to accept your CV or contact details etc. Be forthcoming on your availability.

But in the same breath, don’t be too pushy towards suppliers – find a professional balanced approach where possible. In early years, get involved with any opportunities that arise whether it be volunteer or paid, as these will again often lead onto further work opportunities.

If you plan to become self-employed or freelance, registering as self-employed and setting up an invoicing/receipt system and/or using an accountant from early on will help massively when it comes to completing that first Self-Assessment Tax Return. Ensure you’ve got the right tools for your job – usually always PLI and an invoicing/receipt system, plus any tools that are specific to the job role you carry out on-site. Don’t worry about buying a full tool case for your first job though, start with the essentials/basics and build up your kit over time. I have personally found this approach worked, as it becomes apparent when working on-site which items would be most useful for the next or similar jobs.

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