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Backbone Talks: Onsite with Jari at Defqon.1 July 10, 2019

For this year’s Defqon.1 Weekend Festival I was responsible for the technical production of the RED, RED VIP deck, UV and BLACK. A couple of months ago someone thought it would be a nice idea to take you with me onsite, and to give you some insights in how I approach a technical production like this. Before we go onsite however, we’ll start of course with the pre-production.

Before the production comes the pre-production

The first kick-off meeting with Teun Schilders, the production manager of Defqon.1, about the areas mentioned, took place at the end of December 2018. This was the first moment I got to see the plans for the UV and BLACK. The first concept design for the RED came a little later.

Rani Leunens, Stan van Winden, Steven Post and I took care of the complete pre-production for the BLACK, UV and VIP deck from the start of the project, including all technical design. The benefit of this way of working was that we could design and produce directly according to budget. This was partly because we received a finished creative plan which was approved by Q-dance, and I didn’t see any problems regarding the budget.

The route for the RED was a bit longer and complicated. The design of this stage was the main topic of a lot of meetings between suppliers and the creative departments of Q-dance to get it within the available budget. We were however able to build this stage without any major changes by just looking at what materials were already available, but also by asking ourselves if the choice of material was the right one.

My days on location

When I’m onsite, I’m both overseeing what is happening, and helping the crew with the build, but always with the next day already in my mind. This means that I’m mostly not working enough behind my laptop, and I’m helping the men and women on the floor a little too much. This does allow me however to quickly connect with the project leaders per discipline, so the build is done in the correct order and the various parties continue to communicate with each other. Communication is key, but not always self-evident, because there are always some deviations in the planning due to something going faster of slower. It’s my job to guide this, so the targets for the next day can be achieved.

Jari van Leerdam Defqon.1 2019

In addition, my day of course also contains various meetings with the production team of Q-dance, meetings about decoration with between the creative departments of Q-dance and the decoration supplier, as well as consultations with the construction and housing supervision of the municipality.

How the build went

I think that Defqon.1 was one of the few productions I’ve done, where the load-in and load-out went as we thought and talked about. There are always some issues to work around to continue the build, like décor elements arriving too late. Eventually all targets per day were reached, so we were on track for the hoisting schedule. With almost 90 hoisting moments in the buildup for these three areas, it’s important to stay on schedule to avoid any delay and extra costs.

There were a couple of great highlights for me during the build of this project. The hoisting of the ram and the coxcomb on the RED, the hoisting of the sword on the UV and the first movements of the motion equipment in the BLACK were special moments to remember. With the Power Hour I absolutely enjoyed all visitors going crazy and jumping from the left to the right. A literal highlight for me was when I climbed to the top of the RED and stood there on the coxcomb together with Alex, Geoffrey and Dennis. I felt most proud however when I was cycling around on Thursday before the event and all stages came to life when the programming began.

Jari van Leerdam Defqon.1 2019

Besides highlights there are of course also challenges to deal with. Defqon.1 was my first project done for Q-dance, that on itself is already a challenge. I also was working with some new suppliers, with which I’ve never worked before. It was an amazing project to work on, and although I have a lot of experience in large projects, I’ve learned a lot on this one for which I’m really grateful.

Moments of enjoying the end result are sparing, because there is always something going on, on which I need to assist. During the end show I even caught myself listening to the pyro channel, although my shift was already over, but that’s just in my nature. I’m aiming for the best results, even when I’m not officially working.

Things worth a mention

Our Backbone International intern Jenno Roelofs will hopefully become a new colleague. Due to his dedication and perseverance he was offered a contract on the last day of his internship.

Defqon.1 is absolutely the proof that having fun while working is essential to create beautiful things together.

One tribe, one blood and ONE CREW. This applies to everyone I have worked with on this production. It was great to work with such a dedicated group of people. A special thank you also to team Q-dance for giving me the opportunity to work on this great project.

Jari van Leerdam Defqon.1 2019

– Jari van Leerdam

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