He built this CiTEE on Rock 'N' Roll
Dick Tee is the event industry’s ‘Mr Production’ and his company, That's EnTEEtainment, is among the red carpet of live event suppliers servicing name events ranging from Glastonbury Festival to James Bond film premieres. Abigail Parkin (30 Apr’13)
Starting in earnest with a job as the National Union of Students’ Entertainment Officer Dick then helped set up 'Rock Goes to College' with the Old Grey Whistle Test team at the BBC. He founded That's EnTEEtainment in 1981 and left the world of concert promotion to move into handling site and production management at shows and events. Dick co-founded event industry bible The White Book in 1984, subsequently selling the company 13 years later. He also co-founded 'The Event Safety Shop' - a specialist event industry health and safety company, spearheading this (now) growth area.
Red Carpet What keeps you enthusiastic about this industry?
Dick Tee I think it is the people. The event industry is very intense and involves long hours of work under pressure. The team spirit and the camaraderie that builds up under such circumstances is fantastic. As I have progressed through the production world I have met some great people who have given me such huge support and loyalty. This has been instrumental in my success.
RC What aspects of the business could you do without?
DT Ego and attitudes! The event industry is very complex and everyone involved has a vital role to play. Whether it be cleaners and toilet attendants, sound and lighting technicians or artists and performers, we all need to work together to make the show or event happen and we are all cogs in the overall machine. When people get a bit too wrapped up in their own importance I lose respect for them. Another aspect that I regret is the long and extended periods away from home. It is especially hard on my wife, Tina, and I missed so much time with my children as they were growing up. You can never get that time back - so that is something that saddens me.
RC What industry (or personal) advice would you have given to the young Dick Tee starting out in this business?
DT Well that is quite appropriate as my daughter Francesca finished her Event Management degree last year and is now a very valuable member of my team and my son Toby is a professional rigger doing a lot of work on TV shows and concerts. I think the best advice is to be aware of your own limitations and seek help, advice or assistance where applicable and 'don't kick anybody on the way up as they might kick you twice as hard on the way down.' Whilst you cannot get on with everyone and not everyone will 'be your friend' - try to be fair and honest with people and don't make enemies if you can avoid it.
RC And what would be your advice to a young person wishing to get into today's event production industry?
DT It is very tough at present. There is a now a huge pool of young people interested in events. In the past 20 years the industry has really grown up and evolved and now there is a large number of graduates and skilled young people wanting to find their niche. Be prepared to put in that extra effort to get noticed. It is not a 9-5 job and never will be. People involved in event production are working when other people are playing - so be prepared for the anti-social hours. Honesty, integrity and hard work should eventually bring results.
RC What distinguishes EnTEEtainment from its peers?
DT I think we have a very broad and diverse level of experience and expertise. We actively work on a very wide range of events of differing sizes. We work indoors on project launches, conferences, fashion shows, awards ceremonies etc. and we also work outdoors on concerts, festivals, ceremonial events, special projects and 'one offs'. This diversity is possibly why we are still around and so active within the industry nearly 35 years after setting up in business
RC The Ben 10 film premiere that you delivered for Mission PR seems a departure from your usual roster; are film event an area you would like to build upon?
DT The principles of event production are to a large extent the same for all types of shows and events. The Ben 10 premiere gave us an opportunity to really work on 'creativity' and theming. It was great fun and the reaction on the faces of the young audience was incredibly rewarding. I was also involved in the James Bond Die Another Day premiere Party’ in Kensington Gardens several years ago..
“One of my most enduring memories is driving David Bowie around Glastonbury Festival before he played the Pyramid.”
RC In your opinion, what really makes a live show come alive?
DT The reaction of the audience. Simple as that! Live shows are all about the way that the event/performance is received by the audience / those attending. If they react well to what they see - then the 'live' element has come alive.
RC Memorable events - and why?
DT There are so many it is hard to pick one or even a few. Obviously Glastonbury Festival is up there near the top - such a huge high profile event involving the world’s greatest artistes. It really is amazing what 'Mr Glastonbury', Michael Eavis, has established over a period of 40 years and I have huge respect for him.
But also events like Her Majesty the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Visit to her Armed Forces where as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh witnessed a number of displays in three separate eighty-metre diameter display quadrants where some 250 Service men and women enacted operational scenarios covering Entry in Theatre, Combat and Peace Support. A really amazing opportunity to effectively create massive 'theatrical film sets' and then act out some great story lines in front of a royal audience.
Then there was 'M&S – TIME TO CELEBRATE'. Marks and Spencer launched the highly successful 'Time to Celebrate' roadshow. At that time this was the largest touring retail show in Europe, attracting a total audience of around 30,000 at four major shopping centres. The production management involved co-ordinating nearly 50 artic trucks of equipment and 500 personnel (models, celebrities, staff and technical crew) at each location.
But I still have a soft spot for the Medway Castle Concerts where for some 15 years we have carried out the production and site management for a series of shows held each July within the historic Rochester Castle. The concerts and performances have encompassed a wide and diverse range of musical and theatrical tastes spanning jazz, soul, rock, pop, opera, West End musicals and the ever popular classical and orchestral.
RC What are you hoping from the return of this summer's Glastonbury Festival?
DT Sunshine! It would be so nice to have a dry and warm Glastonbury to mark the 2013 return of this the most famous of festivals, having had a fallow year off. The line-up is fantastic and it is set to be a very special event - so fingers crossed that the weather will be kind to us!.
We got involved with Glastonbury Festival in the mid 90's.
RC Memorable performer or celebrity that you've had a drink with…
DT Not really 'had a drink with' but one of my most enduring memories is driving David Bowie around Glastonbury Festival before he played the Pyramid. He wanted to see some of the other stages, so I had him sat in the passenger seat of my Land Rover with his security hanging onto the rear bumper as we travelled the site. He was charming and as he had been such an icon in my youth, I was blown away. The only other time that I have had such a great feeling of 'gosh you are such a lucky chap' was when I spent a summer advancing shows for Roger Waters when he toured the Dark Side of the Moon. I was sat at the side of the stage in Red Square in Moscow with Roger performing and it just brought home the enormity of my journey in this industry.
RC Finally, how do you think the young Dick Tee of 1981 would view you today?
DT With a smile. 'Well done chap - you went for it - and you did alright!' I would like to think that I have left a bit of a mark on the Industry and hopefully I will continue to do so for while yet...