AN INTERVIEW WITH STAGEDGE'S SENIOR DIRECTOR OF PRODUCTION
As the senior director of production at Stagedge, Rich “Mank” Mankiewicz touches every aspect of every project, from assisting the sales team to staffing to managing budgets to being onsite at an event – even setting up the company’s intern program. In the midst of all of this, he found some time to sit down with us to discuss his beginnings in the industry, offer some advice for those who are finding their own path, and explain what it is that sets Stagedge apart from the rest.
Q: TELL US ABOUT WHAT YOU DO.
RM: In a nutshell, I oversee almost everything on a client project, from A to Z. That includes participating in the discovery call with the sales teams, building quotes for clients, and staffing the team from producer to technical director (TD), creative director, executive producer and more!
The event-planning process begins with a kickoff meeting with our leads, setting up our project management tool, monday.com, followed by a kickoff call with the client – after that, client calls are going forward weekly, and I am part of all of them. Once production gets going, I’ll be onsite supporting the team. We’ll put in a good 100 hours the actual week of the event! Then, when it’s all done, we conduct a post-event debrief with our team, followed by one with the client.
Q: HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN THE INDUSTRY
RM: I began in video, then shifted to broadcast, and from there, to events. Right out of college, I was hired by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), who I’d previously interned for. A month after I started, I was sent to Rio de Janeiro as a sound technician to work on a global customer service magazine show. It was a fun start to my career! Three years later, I moved to the newly founded Quantic Communications, a full-service production company. And that’s where I really learned the craft of editing, for shows like Days of a Sportsman for ESPN. I then moved on to a very large New England real estate agency called DeWolfe, which later was purchased by Coldwell Banker. Here I took on the task of streaming real estate properties and producing agent video résumés. This was in 2000 – pre-YouTube – when this was very new. I started the innovation of producing videos about towns where we had offices, and they became so popular that towns started linking them on their town homepages! Video took off and we produced more and more and then started producing all of the company events for the eastern seaboard!
During many of these earlier jobs, I was also freelancing on the side. I was directing medical broadcasts and surgeries for teaching purposes, and for a little while I worked as the audio guy on the TV show “Cops,” where we’d ride along with the police. I even had to wear a bulletproof vest!
From Coldwell Banker, I moved to massAV – the precursor to Stagedge. There, I became director of operations for live events and evolved into leading the new project management team and then the creative services team.
|“When you go on-site to a show that you’ve planned for six to eight months when the opening video plays and the crowd reacts, it’s very fulfilling to see everything come together.”
Q: WHAT's THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR JOB? WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL FULFILLED AT WORK?
RM: The best thing about the job is the variety of different things we do. We have a whole range of clients and industries, venues, and locations, so there’s always something new. When you go onsite to a show that you’ve planned for six to eight months, and when the doors open and then the opening video plays and the crowd reacts, it’s very fulfilling to see everything come together. And concluding with the closing video, where people are clapping, cheering, and having fun. There are a lot of challenges to overcome to get there – it’s a question of sourcing the right people and the right equipment – and its satisfying to see it all come together successfully.
Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE TRYING TO BREAK INTO THE INDUSTRY?
RM: Definitely try to get an internship in the industry – that’s how I found my first job. Then when you get there, pick everyone’s brain – and network. A big part of it is learning corporate culture, and how to communicate with the office team and all of the freelancers. It’s important to remain open to new experiences.
With our interns here at Stagedge, I always ask: “What do you hope to learn?” Then I expose them to different departments. Our last intern wanted to be a director, so we had him join all of the pre-pro calls and listen to the directors on comm during live shows and broadcasts. But we also involved him in all audio and video production aspects. At the end of the internship, he changed his focus and wanted to focus on camerawork. And we happened to have an opening at the end of his internship, and we hired him. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Q: WHAT SETS STAGEDGE APART IN THE INDUSTRY?
RM: First of all, our team. Everyone is interviewed and valued – from the senior producer to the stagehand! In fact, I am part of the interview process for every single freelancer we work with. That’s important because I will learn more about their technical expertise and find out if they’ll be a good fit for our team and clients. Freelancers are often surprised that they are interviewed by multiple senior staff. This is a differentiator for us; many other production companies do not take the time to interview. We believe it’s key for the production team to gel! Especially for a team that, over the course of a week, you will spend a lot of hours with!
“It’s a family here. Our senior leadership truly cares about everyone, they make it a point to let everyone know and feel part of the Stagedge family.”
Clients often say: “your team is amazing.” And part of why they say that is because my team and I take a lot of care in matching the producer and TD with our clients to ensure a good fit. When we first hire them, I put them on a smaller job first to help them get their feet wet. And then they build trust and relationships with the team and are ready to take on bigger projects. If I don’t feel comfortable putting someone in front of a client, they won’t be put in that position.
Secondly, we offer our clients a personal touch. As a client, you get invited onto our project management software (monday.com) and become an integral part of the collaboration and production process. We’re very transparent every step of the way.
Q: WHAT is the best part of a career at stagedge? what would you say to someone considering a role there?
RM: I’d say: it’s a family here. Our senior leadership truly cares about everyone. People tend to stay with us for a long time. Why? Because we recognize our team’s contributions. We take amazing outings together. And we strive to maintain a work-life balance. People are treated well, and the compensation is good. It’s simply a great place to work!
Come Work With Industry Leaders at Stagedge!
Looking for a place to combine your creativity and ability to organize, problem-solve, and collaborate with the best colleagues in the events industry? Check out the careers page at Stagedge and take your creative career to the next level