21st April 2021

A Moment With: Ola Melzig – Production Professional

Ola Melzig

How did you get started in your career?

I started off working as a stagehand on tours that rolled into Stockholm in the early 90’s. Within soon, the crew boss found out that I had a forklift driver license, so I was promoted to that, which was great. Rather have the forks lifting than my arms…. During those early years, I was also working as a production runner, artist runner, catering assistant and local production assistant. It was indeed very funny times and I absolutely loved it.

What is the best role/job/gig have you done and why?

Oh, that is a tricky one, there is so many that are special to me for different reasons. But if I have to choose one, it would be Eurovision Song Contest 2000 where I was the technical manager for lighting and rigging. It was actually my very first TV show. This show turned out to be extremely important for my future career since it put my name on the map, and opened up doors that might have remained closed otherwise.

Ola Melzig

What was the worst task you were given when you were starting out?

There was something called the Waterfestival in Stockholm in the beginning of the 90’s. It was a big festival downtown Stockholm, and the city center was closed off for 12 days, turning all the streets into pedestrian walks, with stages on every corner. The main stage was built on a huge pontoon in the waters outside City Hall and the Royal Church. The last year I was working on it, some idiot came up with the great idea of changing all the scrims on the main stage every day. So, at 03:30 in the morning, it was time to put the harness on and get to work. Hanging off a scaffolding pipe at 20 meters height on a stage built on a pontoon that is rocking in the waves is NOT a funny thing. I absolutely hated that job, every one of the 12 days, but it paid pretty well.

What do you think you are best at?

I think my biggest strength is that I have done every part of a live production myself at some point in life, so I can relate and understand all the different disciplines within a production based on my own experience. This gives me a quite unique helicopter vision of any project that I am involved in.

What do other people think you are best at?

I hope my attention to details, my overall knowledge and experience of productions, my loyalty for the show and that I go miles out of my way for my crew’s wellbeing.

What advice would you give your 18-year old self?

Don’t change a thing, but say no to that job working with the scrims on the Waterfestival, that sucked ass! As a general note I would say, to any 18-year old, if you want to be successful in this business, pay attention, be a nice person, screaming, shouting and being rude will take you nowhere, do not be afraid to ask if you don’t know, and see all the crappy jobs as an investment in yourself. And remember, you HAVE to do the small shows to appreciate the big ones! Last but not least, make sure you are having fun, because there is no point in working the long hours we all put into this, with the crap money that is usually paid, if it’s no fun.

What is your job now?

I just started working as Head of Production for the upcoming 2017 Eurovision Song Contest that will be held in Kyiv, Ukraine in May this year. A very exciting and fun job, especially since I did the Eurovision there back in 2005, so I know the city and its people very well. This will be my 13th Eurovision production since the start back in 2000. I’ve been very lucky so far! Hope it sticks for a couple of more years.


Also by Anna Robb:

Ben Harrison: Musician, Band Leader, Composer

Dani Bellar Pilukas: Principal Show Programmer For Walt Disney Imagineering

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Anna Robb is Co-Founder and Managing Director for TheatreArtLife. Anna is an experienced Producer/Production Stage Manager. Her 20-year work history spans Asia Pacific, the Americas, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. She has worked for companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Franco Dragone Entertainment Group, Christie Digital Systems and The Sydney Opera House. Anna was an integral part of the research and development, training and formation, creation and operation of the 250 million dollar aquatic show, The House of Dancing Water in Macau. She also maintained the daily operations of this complex show as the head of Stage Management for 7 years. Anna has been employed on over 70 shows in the areas of concerts, arena events, corporate events, trade shows, musical theatre, plays, dance, circus, outdoor festivals and mega shows. Anna holds a honours degree in Design for Theatre and Television and is passionate about the evolution of the industry.

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