Experienced entertainment technician adds a string to his bow with Skills Active apprenticeship

July 15, 2020

Doing work that you love is a privilege that’s open to anyone who works hard and follows their dreams, says Skills Active apprentice Lucas Tofani Souza, who followed his dreams all the way from South America to New Zealand.

Lucas has worked for ETS/Hang-Up Entertainment in Christchurch since 2016, after moving to New Zealand from Brazil, where he got his start in the live music industry aged just 15, and travelled the country supporting big acts.

After several years of experience in both Brazil and New Zealand, Lucas enrolled last year in the Skills Active Entertainment and Event Technology apprenticeship.

Lucas says he appreciates the creative nature of the entertainment industry, and being able to use his work as a form of personal expression.

“Lighting has always been my passion; I love working with intensities and colours. In any job that I do, when I’m designing a show, I put my feelings onto that show. I try to express myself through my work.

“I think that’s awesome, and it’s a privilege to pursue something that you love. To stamp your heart on your work.”

Each apprentice selects two strands in which to specialise. Lucas opted for lighting, his main job role, and rigging, another area of interest.

“Lighting was something that I was already confident doing. With rigging, I like the certainty and facts of it. There is no guessing about a good rigging system. Now I have a qualification that shows I have knowledge in that area. But to be honest, I don’t call myself a rigger just yet. It’s early days.”

Lucas enjoyed the hands-on nature of the training, and being able to work through the process with the support of his mentors.

“I really enjoyed talking to my assessor and my evidence verifier. I had good relationships with them; we had coffees and beers and talked about what I was doing. That was a great experience and I learned a lot through that. For me, meeting people and having those discussions were some of my highlights.”

Lucas says the Skills Active apprenticeship filled in the missing link in his résumé – a qualification that reflected his experience.

“I did the Level 4 programme for a career step-up. When I came here, one of my goals was to gain a qualification that rounded out my CV.”

Despite his years of experience, the apprenticeship still helped Lucas to grow his knowledge, particularly in the areas of health and safety, and theatrical work.

He says the number one quality that every technician needs in order to work in theatre, live music or other events, is flexibility.

“The main challenge that I see for new technicians starting out is building that flexibility and adaptability.

“Perhaps you do a show in Auckland one day and the venue is great; just how you expect it to be, because you know the venue. Then the next day you go to Christchurch and it’s a venue you haven’t seen before. Everything is different – the procedures, the size of the beams for rigging, the position of the lights. A good professional needs to work around those factors.

“Then imagine that on a world tour. You do a show today in New Zealand, and tomorrow in Brazil. The requirements are going to be different but the end result needs to be the same.

“A technician has got to have the flexibility and knowledge to adapt to the circumstances, and it’s got to be quick, and it’s got to be safe. You don’t have a lot of time to think – you have to walk into the venue, look around, and know what you need to do. It’s a skill that comes with time.”