To say that 2021 was a roller coaster of a year is an understatement. As this year winds down, we here at Legend are taking stock, looking back to see how things have changed, how things have stayed the same, and how event production will grow going forward.
So, yours truly, the newest member of the Legend Team (Lily Warpinski, Production Coordinator) sat down with Legend’s Founder and CEO, Jeff Goldstein to get his take on this crazy year and see what Legend has in store for the New Year.
First Question, how does adaptability fit into Legend Productions’ process, specifically during 2021?
Sure, sure. I think adaptability is a really great word that you’ve called out there, because at any given time a good production company is adaptable, meaning that we’re here to serve the needs of our clients and help them deliver their content regardless of the situation in the world. Being adaptable can apply to, you know, how you tell a story, how you strategize for a project, the media that you use, the words, the verbiage, all those different things require adaptability to begin with.
But in 2021, this adaptability had to happen on a much grander scale. We really had to look at the goals of our clients and strategize around the realities of each situation–not being able to do it in the traditional ways or maybe even the preferred ways and make customized recommendations for how to best engage their audience.
You mentioned in your answer that Legend customizes the way that they produce an event based on each client’s needs, what do you mean by that?
Yeah, well, let me just refer back to sort of the second half of 2021, where we probably produced 15 unique experiences for our clients and their audiences and of those 15, not one looked like the other. It’s not a one size fits all solution that we provide.
Can you elaborate on that?
Well, from a production technique perspective, the most recent one we did, we took over a ballroom in Miami. We built a stage set like you would for a broadcast TV event. We brought in four cameras, including a jib. We had a full production crew and ultimately we produced it as a television show–assembled it and presented it to our audience on a 24 hour delay. So that’s just one example.
Prior to that, we produced an awards show for a client that was 100% pre‑taped, presented on a schedule that still allowed audience members to engage with the program through chat, Q&A, and other engagement mechanisms.
In a third instance, we did a broadcast for a small not‑for‑profit in the Westchester area. That was a combination of live and pre‑tape, and the rationale for that is that they wanted to deploy text to pledge and live appeals and refer to content that was coming in in real time, so there was a need for live.
Finally, we produced a hybrid event here in New York City where we drew on the strength of each medium to provide a unique experience in both format and content for the in-person and virtual audiences. This cultivated a shared experience for both sets of attendees.
So, even though you have four totally different ways of putting on an event, all of them go back to the basics. What is the user experience? You know, how do we want them to engage? What is the story and how can it be most effectively communicated?
No matter what project strategy, technical strategy, creative strategy, you have to give the audience a good story to engage with, and you have to give your clients a viable path to do that.
How do you think virtual event production has evolved over the last year?
I think virtual has really developed into something that we as professional event and video producers can be proud of. It wasn’t always like that. When COVID first hit, I think the tools were good, but they weren’t great. Lots of bells and whistles and no lasting usability. They enabled people to connect, but they also didn’t do so in a way that was favorable. But, I give credit to the engineers and creatives we work with, everybody worked really hard to bring the professional sensibilities and qualities and capabilities of in person and broadcast events to this virtual space. And I do think candidly, it took about a year for everybody to get it right.
Now, as we start 2022, our virtual experiences for our clients and the audiences are very engaging, the production quality and the capabilities have just been improving. So I think overall the virtual experiences from the beginning of COVID to now are night and day.
Hybrid events are getting a lot of buzz right now. Do you think they’ll stick around?
Well, the funny thing about the word hybrid when it relates to production is that it’s not new. The bits and pieces of hybrid have always been with us, but now because in‑person is sometimes implausible, Hybrid has become the mainstay for corporate conferences and events.
And we think that’s here to stay, because it does provide new opportunities and new audiences and new revenue streams or new sponsorship opportunities for our clients. And from a production perspective, we’re now able to deploy the best tools and the best people, and make that content accessible to people across the world as well as in the ballroom.
I think virtual and zoom meetings have their place for certain projects, but it’s not a substitute. I do believe that all of our clients are eager to get back to that in-person connection of live events and Hybrid offers that bridge between virtual and live.
Regarding live events, what do you think a production company’s responsibility in COVID precautions going forward?
The question is that as we reopen, as people come back together in ballrooms and conference centers and venues around the globe, will we ever look at COVID as being something in the rear view mirror?
My answer to that is I sure hope so, but I think that’s unrealistic. I do think that COVID has created an awareness about the need to keep environments safe and clean. and that’s not something I think that ever needs to go away, it’s just good practice at this point.
I think our role as a production company is to ensure that our clients’ wishes are respected wherever we are and that local ordinances are enforced. I think that’s going to be one of the bigger challenges for producers and clients as you go around the globe. That’s going to be a constant give and take, knowing that there’s a shared goal of safety first and foremost, but not necessarily being able to have one hundred percent control. It’s just something we all have to work together towards. And obviously you know, the more clients can establish a very clear policy that everybody on the job can follow, the better.
So what kept on popping into my head while you were answering that question is that Legend is an advocate for clients. It goes along with the customization, adaptability, everything you’ve been talking about. The whole point of being a producer is to advocate for the people that you’re producing the event for, and to make sure that their vision is fully realized. So I guess one last question I would ask is, what trends do you see for live events in 2022?
I think that ultimately we’re here to help our clients communicate. We’re storytellers, and we’ve found a lot of methods for keeping those connections working and thriving during this time. But these methods, these trends aren’t the end all be all.
They are a strategy. They are a tool.
And I think what we’ve done in 2021 and what we’ll continue to do going forward is to establish a model for reaching that goal of connection, utilizing the tools we’ve developed this year effectively, setting the bar for the new status quo.
I guess to distill it down: people ask me what the trend is for 2022, and my view is, we need to take trends and turn them into tools.