Planning a Production in Montreal

With the Olympics at an end, it leaves us thinking about international productions and all that they take to produce. Adding an international aspect to production management brings a whole new layer of challenges. Here we talk about the ups and downs of planning an international event and how we integrated the the city of Montreal into the full event experience.

The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), made up of top higher education professionals across the nation, hosted a 3-day event in downtown Montreal that was nothing less than extraordinary. The production elements had awesome challenges that we couldn’t wait to tackle.

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There are aspects to planning for an international production that simply don’t exist otherwise. Our first major challenge? Planning for a language barrier. In Montreal, French is the first language, so naturally many members of their team spoke English only as a second language.

In these instances, the more communication, the better. And as much as you can get in writing, the better. With Google Translate and all the accessible technology available to us today, it sometimes is easier to have it written than spoken so that it can be deciphered. Or, alternatively, so that additional questions can be asked if something is misunderstood.

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Another challenge to consider for any international production is obtaining work visas. In order for us to send our team to Canada, we had to acquire work permits for them. Ideally, we would have sent a team of 16. The interesting dilemma we faced, to keep costs down and to adhere to Canadian rule, was that only six of our leads would travel to Montreal. You can imagine our initial concern. But, the Aquarian crew loves a challenge so we formulated a plan and executed the event to it’s fullest with the resources we had.

We jumped through similar hoops when dealing with tax rebates. From keeping paper trails to needing things in writing, we managed this carefully so our client would benefit from the tax incentives for non-Canadian shows.

The greatest challenge of all was the most fun to execute. The event was held at Palais des congres de Montreal (or the Convention Center in downtown Montreal)—one of the most beautiful event locations there is. We were challenged with designing part of the stage set to blend the old of Montreal with the new. It included a cobblestone effect that when paired with the building’s colorful stained glass windows felt like the city scape of Montreal. We mimicked the architecture, specifically churches from the 1600s, with a skyscraper of Deloitte, and columns that looked like handles and gears, to demonstrate the old versus the new. It was truly a sight to see. Something our team was exceptionally proud of.

It’s common for attendees to see nothing but the four inside walls of the conference center over and over again. Our goal was to bring the outside in… and add a little umph. In addition to the set, the music choice helped keep things lively. Montreal is one of the originators of electronic dance and techno house music. Needless to say, guests felt the liveliness, despite being inside, while traveling in the beautiful city of Montreal. We executed beautifully. The client raved about the stage set experience. It successfully complemented their theme and kept attendees upbeat.

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At the end of the day, it was important to keep everything standard and cutting edge. We used LED moving light technology—giving us a lot of control. We used all our equipment (and team members) to its highest extent. With the challenges of an international production come great rewards. As always, we love challenging environments. We’ll see you again, Montreal.

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