Hi Garry, can you tell us more about who you are and how you got involved in the entertainment industry?
I'm the Key Stage Manager or Show Director for many network/cable award shows and specials including the Grammys, Tonys, VMAs, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, and events for National Geographic and Google. I've Keyed the Oscars, Emmys, Super Bowl Halftimes and most every type of award show or special there is. I also just finished a season of Dancing with the Stars.
I’ve been in this industry for over 30 years; if you can name it, I’ve done it. I got my start by holding multiple positions and working my way up. I've been a runner, production assistant, camera man, worked with props, lighting, and everything in between before landing the role I am in now. The reason I'm good at what I do now is all the invaluable experience gained from each of those roles.
Can you tell us more about your role in the Grammys and Tonys? What do you do specifically?
Here’s a few major duties I fill as a stage director:
- Assemble a team of 5-25 stage managers before any event.
- Ensure all the key prep work is completed.
- Participate in weekly/monthly phone calls with all parties involved leading up to the actual event.
- Manage the sets, scenic work, talent, lighting, stage queues, and live on-camera timings.
- On rehearsal and show day, I make sure everything is on schedule: basically, anything that moves I have to deal with to make sure it's at the right place at the right time. It’s my job to make sure everything goes flawlessly.
We’ve heard that you maintain an amazing level of calm backstage during these high-profile shows. How do you manage that?
I do my homework and make sure to prep everything. I also make sure to surround myself with the best people in the business. I believe that having a calm demeanor is contagious so everyone I work with feeds off that energy and gets the job done.
What type of documents do you keep in your iAnnotate library?
I'm usually juggling the planning of multiple shows at the same time which can add up to 10-15 pounds of paperwork. Rundowns, scripts, set designs, and schedules are the main documents I work on with iAnnotate. The great thing about the app is that I can have multiple tabs open at a time, so I can quickly switch between the different documents and make annotations on the fly.
How has using iAnnotate changed the way you work backstage?
I used to carry around a 3-ring binder that was 2-3 inches thick. I was constantly sifting through and tearing out pages to show people, then putting them back. Not only was it heavy, but I couldn’t read it unless it was under a light. It was extremely inefficient and that slowed me down during these events.
iAnnotate allows me to be a lot more focused on the job at hand rather than worrying about the process: it's a real game changer for the industry as far as mobility goes. I love the fact that everything I need is on my iPad mini–it goes with me everywhere and slides in my back pocket! It’s a great example of hardware and software coming together in perfect harmony.
Have you recommended iAnnotate to anyone else in the industry?
It’s such an easy product to use that I find myself trying to convert everyone I work with to iAnnotate. On the bigger shows everyone is a little hesitant to make the jump, but once they do, everyone realizes the power behind the app and how much easier their jobs can be because of it.
Lastly, what's your favorite tool in iAnnotate?
What you guys do better than anyone else is allowing us to create and use our own stamps. We have our own language in this field so the ability to personalize the app is awesome. It is our favorite tool!
I also love that you can add pop-up images to an existing document. I remember we were setting up a Lady Gaga set and I was able to take a picture of the set and insert it right where I needed it. The photo tool is great.