Knocking Curve Balls out of the Park

Posted on October 31, 2016


Its world series time, so lets throw some baseball terms into the mix!

Planning and preparation are major keys to success in our industry.  Everything from having your paperwork in order, to making sure that your cable cases are labeled and packed properly, to pre addressing your fixtures is supposed to make our lives easier on show site.  However, no matter how much you plan for every eventuality, there are always going to be curve balls.  From the most simplistic to the largest of shows there is always something that comes out of left field right at you.  Here are seven tips on getting around them because ignoring them is not an option.

  1. Coolest head prevails – Every situation has a solution.  Taking a step back and removing yourself from the equation will often times help that solution present itself. This is when that moment of Zen will hit you.


  1. Avoid complexity – Since almost every curve ball comes in at the most in-opportune time, a complex and over engineered solution is out of the question. This is the exact time to think small.  In shooting, it’s called aim small, miss small.  Narrow in on the exact problem and solve it.


  1. Build up your bag of tricks – Experience counts. I love working shows with people who have more experience than I do, especially when it comes to rigging.  Rigging is all about geometry, algebra, and experience and always has curve balls thrown in.  I love watching these guys figure out complex rigging situations, especially when it comes with a story, which is almost always does, about some show they did 15 years ago with a similar situation.  When a curve ball comes up you need to dive into a bag of tricks to solve it.  Sometimes it’s your bag, sometimes it’s not.  But when it does come from someone else’s bag, you better make it part of yours as well.


  1. Treat it as a learning experience – Like I said in the last point, build up your bag of tricks. Don’t let the curve ball get you down.  First off, you didn’t plan for it to happen, and secondly, you need to get past it.  Gain from it and try to only go to school once.  Someone really smart tells me that all the time.


  1. Look a few steps ahead – During your pre-production meetings, talk over the design, the expectations, and deliverables. A lot of the potential curve balls will come up right there.  Sometimes you can stop or lessen them right there.


  1. Be transparent – When the curve ball comes up, discuss it with your team immediately. Like I said in the beginning, they never just go away on their own.  Most likely, the issue does not affect you alone.  These things have a way of cascading pretty quickly if you don’t deal with it upfront and in the open.


  1. Be assertive – Curve balls mean that a change to plan is coming. Sometimes it can really cramp someone else’s style and they may push back on a solution.  If you are a crew chief in this situation, you have to have the end goals and result in mind at all times.  Make the call and stick with it.  In production, the end often times justifies the means, but be prepared to deal with the consequences.


Knocking a curve ball out of the park is extremely satisfying, and I think that is why many of us do what we do in this industry.  The daily challenge of problem solving is a big part of production and the source of almost every war story I have ever heard.  It seems like they always end with “….and the show went on as RE-planned.”