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Colour Sound Develops Potential New Talent
UK – London-based lighting and visuals rental specialist Colour Sound Experiment is actively engaged in a work experience initiative in conjunction with Elstree University Technical College (UTC), offering a selection of students a practical and grounded introduction to the world of lighting festivals, concert tours and live events.
The scheme is being developed by EUTC lecturer Stuart “Woody” Wood – himself a production industry professional before taking up teaching full time – and a number of professional technology partners including Colour Sound.
Embracing the Science of Art and the Art of Science, Elstree UTC is a groundbreaking learning environment for 14- to 19-year-olds, with the aim that a blend of academic rigour, project based learning and industry partnerships will help spawn tomorrow’s creative technologists.
The lively UTC curriculum embraces all areas of the entertainment industry, from the technical disciplines like lighting, sound and video through to hair and make-up, textiles and costume design, etc.
Colour Sound’s training and quality control manager Terri Reavey is coordinating the work experience from their end, and explains: “We are keen to encourage young people and help engineer some breaks into careers and employment as it’s a great industry in which to work. We agreed to take a number of students at various points during the academic year who have shown an aptitude for stage and event lighting. They come and work initially in our warehouse alongside our regular crews as well as going out on shows as part of the experience.”
Colour Sound has structured the work time to give students a grounding in multiple areas of their operation. They will start with distinctly unglamorous day-to-day necessary tasks like coiling and marking up cables correctly, learning the basics about the equipment, how documentation and hire track function in a busy working environment, and how to load trucks properly! All these elements have to be completed to a standard before they then get the chance of going out on shows.
On site, as well as learning how to rig and tech the kit, interpret lighting and patch plots, etc., they also come face-to-face with the all-important personal and communications skills required to get a show up and running under time pressure, how to optimise and motivate the local crew and how to work as part of a team. “This all touches on how to develop those vital political skills to be a good ‘front-line’ company representative and dealing hands-on with the client which is the case with all our crew,” emphasises Terri. “It is something that’s often overlooked in ‘education’!
“They have all been extremely keen to learn and very enthusiastic,” she expands, “And that goes a long way!”
She adds that it has been great having young people on their first work experience as they come in fresh, with open minds and without preconceptions or habits that they might have picked up elsewhere, making it easier to train and instil Colour Sound’s own high standards and working practices.
Alex Ryan is one UTC student who already excelled himself with Colour Sound throughout the year and now regularly freelances for the company while completing his studies, after which he will be coming on-board full time.
In the summer, 15-year-old Jordan Talbot impressed everyone whilst working alongside Woody running lights in the Dance Tent at this year’s Reading festival. Others who have really shone whilst at Colour Sound include Ben Shahar and Maisie Vincent.
Terri has been struck with the range of talented young women coming through from UTC which is “very positive reinforcement” for messages that it’s not just a boy’s business. “Girls with the right attitude and aptitudes can be highly successful in this industry and we hope whilst they are with us that they are encouraged to consider it as a serious career option,” she affirms
“The support from Colour Sound has been fantastic,” concludes Woody who also works hard on developing his 50 or so students’ people-skills and appreciates the opportunities for them to learn good work ethics first hand.
In picture: Ben Shahar and Maisie Vincent prepping equipment in Colour Sound’s west London warehouse.
31st October 2014
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