Are you one of the more than a million people who stream every Apple product announcement online? Did you ever attend a concert with a jaw-dropping stage presentation and light show that you couldn’t wait to describe to your friends? If you’d like to make a career of creating those types of experiences for other people, a career in show production is the ideal choice for you.
What Is Show Production?
Show production includes all of the skills necessary to put together a great live event. Some of the events that require event production professionals include:
- Religious events
- Product launches
- Political rallies
- Sports events
- Theater productions
What Skills Do I Need for Event Production?
Some of the typical skills that stage production professionals utilize include:
- Stage lighting installation
- Microphone, amplifier and speaker placement and wiring
- Equipment configuration for live online streaming
- Installing and configuring visual effects such as lasers, pyrotechnics and smoke machines
- Video screen installation and wiring
- Synchronization of visual effects and pre-recorded videos with music
- Operating a mixing board
- Creating, arranging and moving sets and props during theater productions
A stage production professional may specialize in specific skills. Some people specialize in creating the perfect acoustic characteristics for live concerts. Others create spectacular light shows that synchronize with live music. Early in your career, you’ll contribute your services primarily to local productions with small budgets. You may need to perform many tasks to ensure your marketability. As you gain the skill and experience necessary to contribute to larger productions, you may begin to focus on a more narrow aspect of event production.
Can I Learn Stage Production Without Going to School?
You can get started in event production without going to school. As with many other desirable career fields, though, there are more people with stage production skills than there are available jobs. The best way to build your resume and learn the skills necessary to build a stage production career is to help with local productions on a volunteer basis. Your community has schools, bands, acting troupes, churches and companies that want to host great events but don’t have a lot of money to cover production expenses. Get your foot in the door by volunteering to clean, set up chairs, move equipment or run wires from point to point. Use the opportunity to meet people and learn from them. If you can build a good local reputation, you’ll begin to land some paying jobs.
What Are the Best Schools for Event Production Degrees?
Full Sail University
Full Sail University offers a 20-month bachelor’s degree in event production. As you earn your degree, you’ll learn the essential elements of stage lighting and sound reinforcement. You’ll also learn how to produce a show that generates the desired response from the audience.
Famous graduates of Full Sail University include:
- Charity Lomax, production coordinator for The Eagles, Aerosmith and Van Halen
- Leon Hopkins, road staff manager for Paul McCartney, Genesis and Eric Clapton
- Martin “Tike” Santos, live sound engineer for Paul McCartney, The Police and Garth Brooks
Institute of Production and Recording
The Institute of Production and Recording offers an associate’s degree in live sound and stage production. While earning the degree, you’ll learn the fundamentals of stage lighting, acoustics and sound reinforcement. You’ll also learn about special effects technology such as light shows and video displays.
The IPR faculty includes:
- Kevin Bowe, songwriter and producer for Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Tony Fischer, broadcast manager for the National Football League
- Tom Garneau, producer for R.E.M., Prince and Chicago
What Jobs Can I Get With a Stage Production Degree?
At least one live event takes place in virtually every medium or large American city each day — and every event needs people behind the scenes to make the night memorable. With a stage or show production degree, you may become:
- A permanent lighting or sound coordinator at a stadium or concert hall
- A production manager, light show designer or mixing engineer for a famous musician
- A consultant who conceptualizes unforgettable concert tours or Broadway shows
Landing a prominent job in the entertainment industry isn’t easy. You’ll need the flexibility and skill set to make yourself as marketable as possible. You’ll need the confidence to promote your services — without fear of rejection — to all of the people and companies that you can find. Most importantly, you’ll need to pay your dues by working for low wages — or no wages — while you build a reputation for yourself and learn how to stage a great event. Ultimately, your ability to land your dream job will depend just as much on who you know as it does on what you can do.
Event Production Resources
ProSoundWeb: Major news resource and online community for every field in the professional audio industry.
Event Production Directory: lists more than 4,600 companies in the event production field.
Blue Room: Forum for discussions about stage production, lighting, sound, pyrotechnics and more.