This guy amazed me but pissed me & a hell of a lot of people off. I can’t remember his name even though I ended up working on the same gigs as him too many times. Thinking about it it’s probably a good thing he remains nameless for his sake because he was worse than useless. At times he was dangerous to himself and others.
He amazed me by continually turning up with different companies when whoever he had been working with told him they wouldn’t employ him he’d turn up working for another. He wanted to work in the industry and kept coming back, that’s one point you had to give him he wouldn’t give up. Somehow he could talk himself into a job, any job. He couldn’t do any of them but he could talk himself into a job. It was once he got on the job it fell to bits for him. He also had a speech impediment which doesn’t matter, what counts is doing the job. But he was the only person I’ve ever met that had a speech impediment but would talk incessantly. The main thing he talked about was himself and he did it nonstop. As a crew chief I’ve never come across a person who in the space of a 3 hour call had each & every team he worked with ask for him to be moved before he had “An accident” At one gig he turned up at, as soon as he was spotted everyone was in my face telling me they didn’t want him on their team. That’s pretty bad.
We did a Ford Fiesta launch at the Horden one time and it was very complicated set up, long and slow. At the end of the first 3 hours we cut back on the crew, some of the guys had other gigs already booked so they were the first part of the cull. I was going to cull this guy but he had been in the ear of the Ford crew & they wanted him to stay “He’s alright” I was told, but when I looked for him there he was chatting away while the other guys are working. Not good. So he stayed on & did nothing of note except talk. The natives were restless. The set was in place, sound system was in place and being tested and we were getting ready for the last cull of the day. This time it would leave only the guys who were going to focus the lights. Yet again I was asked to keep him on for the focus, I knew what would happen but let it go. I pulled Woodsy aside and told him what was going on, that basically this guy had talked himself into being kept on the gig but I thought he would shit himself at the thought of going up into the lighting rig. He laughed and said he’d hang around just to have a laugh and yes if it came to it he’d go up in the rig for the focus. Good man.
So I knocked off the rest of the guys and marked the time sheet. I called the four of us together and started handing out climbing harnesses. The look on this guys’ face when I handed him that harness was priceless, all colour drained from his face. We all started putting our harnesses on and he was just standing there with it looking scared. He was trying to say something but it wasn’t coming out, he looked a bit like a goldfish with his mouth opening & closing. When I told him to get moving he blurted out “Weckwess I’m not weally a woadie I’m weally a weal estate agent!” We all stopped and tried not to laugh at him, “What do you mean?, You’ve been going around telling everyone how fucking good you are all day, now prove it.” The thought of going up in that rig was too much for him he was shitting, “ OK give the harness to Woodsy, but don’t ever let me hear you crapping on about how good you are and all the shit you’ve done. Now sit there, watch & learn” Woodsy gave him “The look” as he snatched the harness off him and proceeded to put it on.
Woodsy is a tall lanky bloke with red hair, beard and a collection of tattoos including a full chest Guns ‘N’ Roses one. An imposing looking figure to say the least but a good bloke especially when he was on your side. He wasn’t impressed about doing the lighting focus, but he was a team player so he’d do it. The thing is that he wasn’t really built for climbing around up there he was too lanky and it was amusing to watch. He was normally on the sound crews and never before had he done a focus with me, but we all knew he wouldn’t let the side down. The lighting rig was spread out and quite large to accommodate the amount of set and of course the cars and dancers. It was a long focus which if you are a lighting guy is good. It was one of the reasons I used to climb, it was not only what you did as a lighting guy but it was more hours and therefore money. But if you are a very lanky sound guy on small truss on a hot day it doesn’t have the same appeal. He was not amused, we were but it wasn’t advisable to laugh. The other 3 of us were doing this stuff all the time so we moved naturally around the lighting rig which only annoyed him more because even though we didn’t mean it we were getting ahead of him. It took us a couple of beers afterwards to improve his mood. I told the “Weal estate agent” that he should leave before we came down out of the lighting rig. I didn’t have to explain that it was for his health that he should leave. Everyone was dirty on him and he knew it. We didn’t see him for quite some time and then he turned up working for Live Crewing and although I didn’t know all the guys I did know some of them and pulled them aside. Goldie & Sos were mates from the Shire and I told them to watch him. It turns out that it was the first time they’d worked with him and they soon found what we had he was not only useless he was dangerous.
When we were doing Turandot at the Sydney Football Stadium he turned up with Live crewing again and our guys were happy that he was with them and not United. It was during the load out and Live crew had been brought in to pull down scaffolding. There was 80 foot scaff towers for lighting & sound which had been stripped of all equipment and cabling. Which is a story in itself, which I’ll get to later.
Scaffolding is a manual process both putting it up & pulling it down. There is no easy way to do it and it needs cross bracing, stairs, platforms for followspots and rigging points capable of holding a PA and lighting system in this case. Add to that the fact that it all must balance in all weather. It is a specialist job.
The Live crewing guys were in the southern one of these towers with the scaffold team at the top and as they systematically stripped the tower they passed the pieces to the Live crew guys who passed them down to other guys below them who then passed them to the next bloke etc. A simple but effective process, you’d think. All was going well and the stage itself was being stripped at the same time. Spider was running the show and he was happy with our progress. That was my main concern, keeping the schedule.
When I had seen the “Weal Estate agent” I had said to the Live guys to keep an eye on him and got the same “He’s OK” and shook my head and walked away. I told our guys he was there and the opinion was “Well let them take care of the idiot” We were too busy to worry about him anyway. About an hour later we were coming around from the front of the stage carrying something through the gap between the stage and the southern tower. There was a whole pile of banging of metal and yelling. Looking up we saw a scaffolding floorboard falling then hit the tower. It then spun end over end down and away from the tower, then it hit the stage and did the same thing. Guys were bolting, we just dropped whatever we were carrying and got out of there quick smart. What we are talking about is a piece of folded metal approximately 2400mm long by about 250mm wide falling from fifty foot up! Well I’ll give you one frigging guess who dropped it. That bloody idiot! Amazingly no one was hurt, an absolute miracle. Also it’s a credit to the guys that their assessment of the situation in what was a very quick and unexpected situation was so good. Very soon though it was clear that the “Weal Estate Agent” was not going to be in good health for long and was removed from the site for his well being as well as our own. The rest of the load out went well and we were happy that the gig was done & dusted.
Understandably we thought we’d never see this guy again and were all quite happy about it. But he turned up yet again. Believe it or not he turned up working for Jands! As a driver and delivery boy. How he got the gig I don’t know but every guy that had worked with him was spewing. Jands at the time was the biggest sound and lighting production company in the country, they also make their own equipment which is world class. For guys that had spent years busting their guts doing good work in the industry to see him talk his way into that job was absolutely the pits. I can’t think how you could make yourself less popular than this guy was already, somehow he did it.
Fast forward to Darling Harbour convention centre. We are working on another Ford Launch with Chris Newman in charge who is great to work with and we had a top crew of stagehands and spot ops. We had 3 new Fords’ we are presenting Fairlane, Fairmont & Ghia with moving set & of course you need a bunch of gay dancers. It just wouldn’t be the same without them, for some reason. I’m sure if you were launching a new tank or thermo nuclear device the powers that be would say “We need gay dancers!” Anyhow we are into rehearsals and it is split second timing. Everything is being timed and scrutinised. We are all totally concentrating on what is happening and waiting for our cues. We are all on head sets listening to Newmans call and ready to move for the set change before the next car comes out. There’s a BANG!! and a blue flash, the sound goes off and people yelling. Walter Lee (the Moose man) was calling my name and I was up and running across the stage, straight through the dancers. There laying on the floor , flopping around like a freshly landed fish was, guess who? Yep you got it in one, that fuckin’ idiot, again! I yelled at everyone to stay back. The last thing we needed was someone else getting hurt. After a quick check to make sure there was no power near him, I checked him out. His pulse was racing and erratic and he was breathing. At least I didn’t have to give him mouth to mouth. The dancers were traumatised, the stagehands were quietly having a chuckle, and I was trying to work out what the fuck had happened.
Eventually after he came to and I’d talked to the sound guy I found out that he’d been told to come to the gig and deliver an amp and bring back the one that had been playing up. Doesn’t sound complicated to me. He’d also been told not to hang around and to get back ASAP. When he got to the rehearsal he went straight to the sound guy and told him what was happening, he was told to shut the fuck up and go to catering and get a coffee until the rehearsal was over. Now he had been told not to hang around so he went and found the amp in the rack with all the other amps. Everything was marked and he thought he’d just unplug it and plug the other one in. While it is all at full power, during a full dress rehearsal!! The guy was an idiot, no doubt about it. But he was keen, he was that keen I had to take the ute keys off him because he wanted to drive back to Mascot even though he could hardly stand. Needless to say that was the last time we saw him and the gig went well. One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t be buying any “ weal estate” off him.