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Graduates land roles at Glastonbury

Three Backstage Academy Foundation Degree graduates landed jobs at Glastonbury in June, the world’s biggest greenfield festival. Matt Slee was there as part of the touring crew for The Cortinas, Roanna Clark worked in the festival site office all summer and Harry Harrison joined the lighting crew for the John Peel stage.

Harry gives us an insight into his experience, and his first time at Glastonbury.

Our graduates working at Glastonbury 

Glastonbury 2013, a festival that I had been pestered to go to by friends for almost a year, a festival that I had always ignored because I had images of too many people, mud and a tiny site where you are treated like cattle. This was all about to change when, shortly after graduating, I was offered the opportunity to work on the John Peel stage as part of the lighting crew for a week. Thinking wasn’t part of the question and I had said yes before I could even think about the words coming out of my mouth!

Skip forward to the end of June and armed with a tent, air bed, hard hat, steelies, rain jacket, jumpers and suncream, I set off from Norwich station on my way to the South West. I joined the crew before entering the site and we went in together, the first thing that struck me was the sheer size of the place, forget stages closely packed together, this place is like a city and takes around an hour to get from one side to the other!

We set up camp and got briefed on the build that was to take place the next day, after some food I took a walk around the empty site to get my bearings which ended up in total confusion and getting lost in some magical land that made me feel like I was in some sort of dream and I had only been drinking water!

 Lining up the LEDsImage

Wednesday was the start of the build and we began with unloading the truck. Once everything was out we and the rig was flown to a working height we started hanging the vast amounts of VL’s, Source 4’s and multiple LED fixtures as well as running all the looms, the biggest challenge was probably the LED strips that were used for video, these were custom built and had to be perfect before being flown out to grid height as our stage was going to have heavy BBC coverage throughout the weekend and so had to look right for the cameras.

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Once everything was tested and tested again we handed the stage over and the festival began, this then allowed me a chance to see the site and what an experience it was! There were some amazing shows and some great stalls, I especially liked the Greenfields area which featured some really quirky home made things. The best gig had to be the Rolling Stones, what a show they can put on!

During the festival I got the chance to stand FOH for a few shows and got a go on the Hippotizer system that was controlling the LED strips. On the Sunday it was time to de-rig, by this time I had seen too much sun and had lovely red arms, legs and face which made the whole thing that bit more difficult, but better than being covered in mud and soaking wet I thought!

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The de-rig took us three hours in total which was fantastic, everyone worked incredibly hard and we all celebrated with some champagne afterwards!

So to sum it up, Glastonbury is now a date that will be in my calendar every year, from thinking it was like any other festival I was totally wrong, I recommend everyone to go at some point! Work wise it was great to be part of such a wonderful crew, everyone there just enjoys what they are doing and the atmosphere is brilliant! Of course with working you also get the benefits of hot showers, catering, proper toilets and a separate camping area. I can confirm this annoys friends who are visiting the festival a lot!

I left on the Monday morning and went straight to London where I began the start of my tour with Mumford & Sons, I’m typing from my hotel room and feeling like I have had a great couple of weeks.

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