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PRG Sets the Scene at the Democratic National Convention
Every four years our industry gets to apply our production skills to perhaps the most unique of all special events, the political conventions. Production Resource Group (PRG) was once again honored to participate when they were invited to provide both lighting and scenery for this year’s Democratic National Convention (DNC). Production designer Bruce Rodgers, working on his first political convention, felt that this was more than just another large-scale event. “It reminds you that production work makes a large contribution to how people get information. We are an industry that supports the band or the performance or in this case the speeches and the speakers but our support, our craft, is also a large part of the final product. I designed the set hoping to convey the message that anyone could be part of this electoral process: a set that spoke to who we are as Americans, what our political history has been and the history that was taking place on the stage in Denver. Some of the most technically advanced scenery is made here in America. We design it, we build it and people like Bob Dickinson light it elegantly. It was right that we had the opportunity for our industry, our work to be part of this very American process.”
The Democratic Convention, which took place at the end of August, was in not one but two Denver landmarks, the Pepsi Center and Invesco Field, home to the Denver Broncos. Two venues meant PRG was required to coordinate, assemble, construct and deliver two massive sets, and two complete lighting systems all with time-critical load-ins and load-outs. For the lighting packages, Full Flood’s lighting designers Bob Dickinson and Bob Barnhart called on Tony Ward, PRG’s vice president of Television and Special Events to help with the logistics. Ward, covering onsite at Invesco Field, also brought in production electrician Richard J. Beck to help cover the Pepsi Center. “Richie did a great job, as he always does. He is one of the best there is,” explains Ward. “The Pepsi Center design, both scenic and lighting, was challenging but exciting to work on. I really enjoy getting to work with some of the best in the business on something so unique.”
Over at Invesco Field, Ward experienced additional challenges. “Our single biggest issue was that a Broncos pre-season game compressed our load-in to just four 14-hour days. The last minute addition of Invesco Field, planned with only a month lead time, meant that getting enough gear would require a lot of coordination between the designers and PRG. Barnhart commented, “PRG’s account reps are fantastic; we have been working with them a long time, and they always take care of us. PRG really came through for us.”
PRG Scenic Technologies’ Las Vegas shop fabricated the scenery for both the main Pepsi Center stage and the Invesco Field set for Senator Obama’s closing night acceptance speech. Rodgers designed two ambitious sets that, while different in style, still had unifying elements to connect the two venues. The main stage was a very modern abstract set and Invesco held a more formal, presidential set; inspired by the Lincoln Memorial.
Rodgers worked closely with Lincoln Maynard, general manager of PRG Scenic Technologies Las Vegas. “PRG was amazing. They put in so much detail and the carpenters and painters did beautiful work. They really made both sets come alive. Maynard really got what we were trying to do design-wise and was able to translate that to the shop so they understood. Maynard felt that Rodgers and his entire design team from Tribe, Inc. were easy to work with. “We do what we always do, try to make the designer’s job as easy as we can make it. We are very proud to have been part of this historic event.” When Rodgers was asked to design a second set for Invesco Field he knew designing and building that set in only a month was a tall order but he also knew that PRG could do it. “I was confident in the shop, and I knew that they would fabricate my design perfectly.”
Maynard is particularly proud of the fact that PRG not only met the ‘green’ mandate of the Democratic National Convention Committee but exceeded expectations. On the Pepsi Center set, which was designed with an extensive amount of wood resembling red oak. Maynard notes, “We did not buy one square foot of oak. It was all MDF painted to look like red oak. We found a soy-based paint that had no VOCs (volatile organic compounds)”. PRG arranged with a recycling company in Las Vegas to recycle 75-90% of everything that PRG sent to them after the show. The carpet, which was 40% post consumer waste, was donated to Habitat for Humanity and FEMA. Maynard comments that, “For PRG, the effort to be green was not unique to this project.”
“PRG as a company is committed to moving in the direction of environmentally-friendly solutions for all our divisions,” states Jere Harris, Chairman and CEO of Production Resource Group. “We are all extremely proud of the work done for the Democratic National Convention and particularly of the industry changing standards that PRG Scenic Technologies is pioneering”.
For more information, go to www.prg.com.
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