Jessica Allan: Knight of Illumination

How did you initially join the industry?

“By accident whilst doing babysitting when I was a teenager! I was working for the then MD of Martin Professional UK and his wife who was in the HR department. They said I was good at talking to people and would make a good receptionist. I have no qualifications in anything, had no idea what I wanted to do ‘career’ wise (still don’t like that word), so this was slightly terrifying, but they and my parents convinced me that I could do it.”

Your skills are varied – where has your working life taken you up until this point?

“Predominantly I’ve worked in sales and marketing related roles in lighting manufacturing, having worked for Martin and Chroma-Q dealing with UK & International markets and then also crossing over into the world of staging and scenic with TAIT when they set up in Europe. I have worked across concert, events, theatre, TV & film with some wonderfully supportive and inspiring people in this industry who have helped, suggested and pushed me in my path.”

What does your new company Productionomics provide to the industry?

“It’s early days but the aim is to catalogue and record data of event productions (initially concert touring), to help identify trends in tour production, technology and to keep an important historical record on our industry of products, vendors and personnel. As we have very little actual physical data on our industry, as just one example, how many PMs or LDs do we have working in the field vs how many shows are going out? This leads us into what is the age range vs do we have enough new freelancers being trained for the future? I hope to find real stats for these amongst many others. I have also expanded to add consultancy to this, as my past roles have given me invaluable experience in sales strategy, product launches and industry events.”

What would you describe as having been your biggest learning curve?

“Making a jump to go out on my own with Productionomics, which still is a learning curve to be honest! I now have added respect for freelancers!”

You’re part of the organisation team at Showlight. How did the 2017 event go?

“Amazing! As I type this, it is the day after show so a big relief, to quote a very well known LD, “It’s the greatest gathering of lighting professionals”… so no pressure! Our Chairman John Allen and all of us on the committee take it very seriously, to make it a very special event for our fellow industry professionals. We had a fantastic main sponsor in Claypaky for this show, and great support sponsors as well. The talks from LDs and other lighting practitioners across varied lighting sectors were so inspiring. Plus we were in Florence – the perfect artistic backdrop! If you don’t know about it, it is unlike any other event in the industry. It takes place every four years and changes locations depending on the main sponsor, once you attend either as a delegate, exhibitor or speaker, you’re hooked.”

You’re also new to the Knight Of Illumination Awards team. What does this new role involve?

“My role is to promote the Concert Touring & Events category, and coordinate the nominee designs we get through, so that the four judges get to see the shows in the flesh and have the relevant assets (video/photos & LD background on their design) ready for their judging period.

“I am very passionate about the role of designers in our industry, it is a real art form that is not celebrated enough in the wider artistic world. If you are an LD and have designed a show this current or coming KOI judging year, please get in touch. You don’t have to be the LD to nominate a show; if you’re working on a show with a design you think warrants a nomination, then get in touch! Nomination details can be found at:”

Highlight your favourite moments so far…

“There have been so many highlights, but my heart is in the concert touring side of the market, within which I’ve been lucky enough to see so many shows over the years. However if one, it would probably be the time I got to watch The Rolling Stones’ rehearsal.

“James ‘Winky’ Fairorth took me along soon after I started at TAIT so that I could get a feel for what they do (to this day he has no idea what this meant to me, as my father has a fabulous record collection and The Stones are the soundtrack of my childhood). We walked into Wembley Arena and Ethan Weber and Dave Hill were busy programming Patrick Woodroffe’s stunning lighting design, they had a static look up, which was just a pure rock show. I felt I got a glimpse of a bygone era, of the classic rock ‘n’ roll show, and it gave me goosebumps. The Stones turned up and proceeded to play pretty much their whole set straight through which, I was subsequently told, is not that common for them to do.”