Published in TPi Magazine - January 2018
At this year’s Production Futures, Pearce Hire welcomed 18-year-old Zack Batchelor as the newest addition to its warehouse team. TPi sat down with him and General Manager Jim Brown, to discuss his first few months on the job.
Production Futures has a mission; to give students and young freelancers the chance to network with established industry professionals and get their foot in the door. One of this year’s success stories came from Peterborough’s lighting, audio, rigging and power specialist, Pearce Hire. During the event, Managing Director Shaun Pearce and General Manager Jim Brown found the fresh talent they were looking for in fellow attendee, Zack Batchelor, who was given a contract within days of the event.
“We went to Production Futures this year with the knowledge that we wanted to employ someone,” explained Brown. “We met a lot of interesting people but the stand out by far was Zack. After he left our stand, Shaun and I both agreed that he was the guy we were looking for. Within 2 or 3 days we got the contract sorted and he’s been in the warehouse ever since!”
Currently, Batchelor is working as lighting and rigging trainee for Pearce Hire, learning the process from when a job leaves the warehouse to when it comes back through the door. At Pearce Hire, all trainees start in the warehouse, preparing the jobs to go out. From there, Brown added, they progress to more complex jobs with more responsibility and eventually become fully fledged technicians.
Brown recalled how Zack had driven an extra 2 hours to get to the event, after the A1 was closed due to an accident, saying it was “just one example of his dedication.” Brown added: “He presented himself very well and showed an awareness of not just what he already knew, but what he was keen to learn.”
Batchelor’s interest in live events was sparked at secondary school - just down the road from his future employer’s HQ, coincidentally. He was involved initially in school productions, relishing the teamwork, and “seeing how all the pieces came together.”
Batchelor told TPi: “It led up to the biggest production our school had ever seen for an end of year talent show.” Far from a run-of-the-mill school production, Batchelor and his class mates worked on the show for 6 months, bringing in 40 lighting fixtures and a custom projection screen. They even experimented with projection mapping. Inspired, Batchelor joined the Young Technicians Scheme, which gives 11 to 19-year-olds the chance to experience technical production, teaching sound, lighting, rigging, video and mixing. Batchelor started off as a student, but later went on to tutor in the scheme.
With formal education behind him, Batchelor left sixth form to fully immerse himself in freelance work. Fast-forward to Production Futures in October 2017, and Batchelor made the trip to Wakefield’s Production Park. Some traffic trouble, a little networking and 1 job contract later, 2 months down the line, the Pearce Hire office still think it’s hilarious they “travelled 150 miles only to employ someone who lived down the road from our offices,” according to Brown. He summarised why he likes paticipating in Production Futures, saying: “You are not there to sell anything. You can just have a chat with the youngsters and discover what their challenges are. It’s a great atmosphere, a chance to celebrate the industry and give some advice for those following in your footsteps. It really reminded me of why I got into this line of work.”
“This was my first year at Production Futures but I was really impressed,” Batchelor chimed in, echoing: “All the exhibitors were interested in what you had to say. There was a massive diversity of companies and they all had a great attitude, especially to someone like myself who was quite new to the industry. You get a feel for what it’s like to work in the environment and see yourself as part of it.”
Pearce Hire has already put Batchelor on several training courses and he has been out on a few corporate jobs over the festive period. “I’m learning the whole time,” enthused Batchelor. “Just rigging up a job I get to do something I have never done before and it’s really interesting.” Brown jokingly warned: “He’s going to be very busy especially after the new year as our calendar is already filling up quite nicely. He will soon enough get to discover the ‘joys’ of festival sites and other perks of the job. It’s going to be a busy 2018 for him.”
To close, Batchelor shared some advice with those hoping to follow in his footsteps: “Grab every opportunity and don’t be afraid to talk to people further on in their careers! They can give you good advice and, who knows…sometimes a job.”