Page 24 - Entertainmnet Technology 246 - August 2013

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August 2013
24
features
Andy Collier Remembered
Andy Collier died on Friday 12 July
following a heart attack while travelling
to an ALD meeting in central London.
This appreciation is based on Andy's
(as ever self-effacing) autobiographical
sketch, as published in the Profiles
series by Entertainment Technology
Press in 2000.
Andy never had the chance of a real
career from birth. With a mother who trod
the boards with comedian Ted Ray, and
a father who worked in Rollo Gillespie
Williams' stage lighting emporium at
Holophane, early ambitions of being a
scrap metal dealer took second place to a
childhood spent in and around the theatre.
His first major role at the age of eight was
disconnecting Strand 3-in-line plugs by
prising them apart with a screwdriver. At-
eight-and-a-half he learnt to isolate the
circuit first.
After a brief flirtation with his University's
drama group (and its cast), and a once-in-
a-lifetime gig at the Hammersmith Odeon
where he attempted to perform a complex
rock light show single handed on a Grand
Master, Andy felt he knew all there was
to know about being a theatre consultant
and applied to Theatre Projects for a post.
Michael Holden suggested a huge number
of alternative career opportunities.
He duly joined Rank Strand Electric's
busy 'specials' department and within a
very short time many of superiors had
departed, leaving him in charge of an
engineering department of 20 at the tender
age of 24. Many famous special projects
followed, including a custom MMS carry-
cot module for Martin Moore's secretary,
an extendable 'gnat's cock rule' for the
retirement of the metalshop chargehand,
and equipment for the National Theatre,
the Barbican Theatre and Concert Hall,
BBC Television Centre, the Royal Opera
House, Kammerspiel Munich and La
Scala Milan, and many theatres and TV
studios around the civilised world, plus a
few in Australia.
Offers from the management flowed in
for Andy to work anywhere else, such as
Strand's outposts in Scotland, Los Angeles,
and finally, Leningrad. The latter offered
the greatest challenge as Strand had
no facility or communication whatsoever
in that part of the world, so on his return
from a sentence at the Kirov ballet, he
decided to get his own back and took the
post of Product Manager for Controls and
Dimmers in the marketing department.
On the first day in his new job, Andy was
informed that every one of the previous
marketing team had just left. It still is not
known if the two events were connected.
As the expert in controls and dimmers,
he was appointed product manager for
the new technology of automated lights.
Having being present at the famous
Strand board meeting where the 'new'
Parcan device was presented, and
roundly rejected by the burghers of the
board as being a 'flash in the pan' and a
fashion statement, he felt that the launch
of motorised Parcans into the European
marketplace would be worth a laugh.
For the launch, he commissioned the
Ballet Rambert to perform at Photokina,
and devised a marketing campaign
including posters, sweatshirts and colour
brochures. The lights moved, but not in
the right direction. Prompted by a tirade
from Strand's American management
who concluded he was sabotaging their
technology in Europe, Andy moved to Italy
and to the fledgling Teatro, famous for
Parmesan cheese and Mike Lowe.
After 48 months at Teatro and host to
52 groups of holidaying visitors, Andy,
his wife Margaret and newly-arrived son
Benjamin left behind a happy time in Italy
to return to the UK and the unknown.
With all his past conveniently forgotten
by a new Strand management, he was
approached by David Brooks to join the
revitalised Marketing Department in a fresh
team which included Steve Norman in the
USA and a young Edward Pagett, and
which launched itself into new marketing
initiatives for Europe, USA and beyond.
However, all the senior management
really wanted were more datasheets.
A disillusioned Andy left Strand and
registered Technical Marketing Limited
with David Brooks and Steve Norman
with the aim of teaching the world about
technical marketing. Starting with writing
data sheets for stage lighting companies
the company has consolidated its work as
PR and Marketing Consultants for a range
of well-known industry companies. The
trio also authored Technical Marketing
Techniques, published by Entertainment
Technology Press in September, 2000.
Andy edited the Association of Lighting
Designers magazine Focus and was
an active member of its committee. He
also was a supporter of the Society of
Television Lighting and Design.
Technical Marketing Ltd (TML) brought
new challenges for Andy. The company
mission was all about helping businesses
with their marketing. Not just acting as a
consultant and telling the client what to
do, but becoming a valued member of
the marketing team and directly involved
Andy with Francis Reid at ABTT 2013 . ETP’s Ken Sewell smiles through the gap.
with Ian Saunders of ALD and Richard
Pilbrow at ABTT 2011.