SAE students behind-the-scenes at the 2017 Bluesfest

Byron Bay

5 May 2017

bluesfest 2017 HERO

5

May

SAE students behind-the-scenes at the 2017 Bluesfest

5 May 2017

While the majority of us were enjoying a relaxing few days of annual leave over the Easter holiday break, a group of SAE students and their lecturers were working 16-hour days alongside a professional crew to deliver Australia's largest International Music Festival of Blues and Roots Music.

The 28th annual Bluesfest was held over five days at Tyagarah Tea Tree farm just north of Byron Bay. This years’ festival attracted an international audience of over 100,000 and presented over 200 performances across seven stages. The incredible line-up featured performances by music heavyweights; Patti Smith, NAS, Courtney Barnett, Mavis Staples, Mary J Blige, The Lumineers, Bonnie Raitt, The Doobie Brothers, Beth Hart, Buddy Guy, Madness, Santana, Zac Brown Band and Neil Finn.

The amazing SAE crew comprised of 25 work experience students from SAE's Byron Bay and Brisbane campuses - 11 audio, 10 film, and for the first year SAE had 4 design students who streamed live content from their mobile phones to Periscope.

SAE Institute Film students at the 2017 Bluesfest Byron Bay

Four audio interns received the biggest compliment when their industry-ready skills were recognised by JPJ Audio, the company responsible for suppling the audio equipment and crew to this year’s festival. The student’s were offered upcoming paid work with the company.

The SAE team were easily recognised across the festival stages in their black & white branded tees as they turned over bands and walked the festival's grounds. The work experience students weren’t the only SAE ambassadors onsite. A pair of 2016 Bachelor of Film graduates from SAE Byron Bay were working the festival under their newly launched film production company, Vision Lab Media

SAE graduates, Vision Lab Media at the 2017 Bluesfest Byron Bay

Daz & Nathan joined forces when they graduated and opened their own film production company and photography studio based in Currumbin on the Gold Coast.  Last year the pair had worked Bluesfest as student interns, now a year on they were hired by Bluesfest to shoot the festival’s sponsorship video as well as a second promotional video for SAE Institute.

A special thanks goes out to the INCREDIBLE team of SAE lecturers who gave up their Easter holidays to supervise their students… Dirk Terrill, Russ Burton, Donna Crotty and Jill Moonie, we salute you!

A HUGE thank you also goes out to the amazing team of SAE Byron Bay & SAE Brisbane superstars!  You know who you are… and we want to sing your praises so everyone can congratulate you on your tremendous efforts!

Audio Students

  • Ben Meek
  • Lloyd Edgar (SAE Brisbane)
  • Isaiah-Mark Espiritu
  • Jeremiah-Paul Espiritu
  • Sabastian Fardell
  • Georgia Franck
  • Sam Lutas
  • James Patterson
  • Alex Plummer
  • Reuben Sawkmie
  • Lucas Wilmer

Film Students

  • Natalie Grube
  • Luca Hampton-Taylor
  • Leisa Hayhoe
  • Kyle Healy
  • Rhys Hicks
  • Jarad Moore
  • Ceon O'Callaghan
  • Michael Snow
  • Daniel Stevenson
  • Ho Wang

Design Students

  • Michaela Stonehouse
  • Penelope Priede
  • Tegan Miller
  • Jasmine McLean

We spoke to a few of the students about their experience working the festival and asked what their highlights were over the five days… 

Can you describe your duties onsite at this year's Bluesfest?

Natalie Grube (SAE Film student)

The SAE student film crew had the responsibility of transmitting live imagery of the music acts on the Mojo and Crossroads stages onto the huge LED screens side of stage. There were three cameras we had to operate.  Two of the cameras were in the 'pit' to the left and right of stage in front of the performers, and the third was a long-lens camera that sat in the centre of the tent. Walking among the Bluesfest crowds gave me a sense of just how important the LED screens are to festival-goers.  Many people rely on this visual feedback to experience the live music - particularly during the bigger acts when the tents are crowded. In between filming duties the film crew would often sit in the live edit room to gain a better understanding of how to capture the flow of a live performance.

Michaela Stonehouse (SAE Design student)

The Design team’s duties were to capture fun things happening around the festival grounds and broadcast these as a live stream on the ‘Periscope’ app run through Twitter. We filmed festival goers having a good time, stall-holders, performances on the Boomerang stage – and so much more!  It was amazing to film our indigenous Aboriginal performers, who are so proud of their culture, and broadcast this to viewers all around the world. I also had the opportunity to interview the local Byron band ‘The Round Mountain Girls’.

SAE Design students working social media at 2017 Bluesfest Byron Bay

Georgia Franck  (SAE Audio student)

Working with the audio crew at the Crossroads stage my duties were to place mics on stands and set up all the audio equipment so it was ready for the bands that were about to perform.  It’s an easier transition during the change overs if all the equipment is ready to go.  I also packed up the mics, stands and XLR cables after each band’s performance and then when each night wrapped.

Lloyd Edgar (SAE Audio student)

I was placed in a small audio crew of five, our roles were dealing with the backline of each artist and setting up the stage before and after each change over. 

What was your most memorable experience over the festival?

Natalie Grube (SAE Film student)

On the fifth day of filming I was so much more confident on the camera.  I was able to shoot with precision and control, efficiently pre-empting the shots that the director would want.  It came as a sudden realisation that I had stepped beyond those initial learning stages, and into the realm of professionalism, and the feeling was incredibly validating and inspiring. On the journey home from the last day of Bluesfest I was reflecting on the experience, and felt so immensely grateful. I had been to five Bluesfests as a spectator, but nothing compared to feeling like an integral part of it.  I realised that by being an SAE student I was automatically respected for my skill-set, the professionalism of previous SAE students had paved the way for me.

Michaela Stonehouse (SAE Design student)

My most memorable… well I could say it was seeing Matt Damon and Christ Hemsworth in the flesh, but I don’t think that is acceptable. So it would probably be my backstage experience watching Courtney Barnett from side-of-stage. I felt so legit as I asked the security guard nervously, ‘Can I get back here with my pass’?’ and he replied 'Yes’!  She even bowed to us backstage after her set.  Let’s just say the 18-year-old me was fan girling hard!

Georgia Franck  (SAE Audio student)

I can't really say I have just one memorable experience over the festival, since I honestly loved and enjoyed every single second of it!  But if I had to choose it was probably when I was given the duty to count the inventory of the mics at the end of each night, and getting every single prop (mics, stands, XLR cables) ready for the acts to come the next day. 

Lloyd Edgar (SAE Audio student)

I got to help Buddy Guy’s guitarist set up his rig. What happened was Ric Jaz (Buddy's guitarist) brought a friend to help him set up his guitar gear. I saw the guy didn't have much experience, so decided to give him a helping hand which lead to me setting up everything - even collecting a vintage 1956 Gibson Baritone 335. Ric had asked for a pedal board, but we didn’t supply that in backline. So the next day I went out of my way during my break and built him a D.I.Y pedal board made form dutch tape and wood. He loved it and even signed it for me!  The best part was when he said, 'if you’re hear next year I want you to be my guitar tech' – that would be so amazing! 

Can you describe how the knowledge & skills you learnt at SAE has equipped you to work in a real-world environment?

Natalie Grube (SAE Film student)

It can’t get more 'real world' than your film skills being transmitted live to thousands of paying festival patrons! The skills I've learnt during my time at SAE have been invaluable, but it’s also the campus support you receive that has built my confidence.  My time at SAE prepared me for my Bluesfest experience.  I will be forever grateful for the enduring support of the teaching and support staff at SAE Byron Bay, and also for the organisers of Bluesfest for their faith in SAE's students.

Michaela Stonehouse (SAE Design student)

SAE forced me to put on all of my thinking hats!  My Creativity hat and my Designer hat helped me when I was shooting live footage. My Judgement hat had me thinking of good questions to ask people, and then ask myself, ‘Is this worth posting, or is this acceptable to post?’  And finally my Feeling hat helped me remain confident and positive whilst talking to festival goers, stall holders, and artists. 

Georgia Franck (SAE Audio student)

Bluesfest was the first live show event I have ever experience working on the ground. Having a lecturer like Matt Debien, who has been in this industry for a long time, really helped me understand what was expected of me and how everything needs to be set up, which really helped me when it came to working a real-world live event. 

Lloyd Edgar (SAE Audio student)

Just being an audio nerd in general really helps a lot! SAE teach you the routine of signal and planning, which a lot of students think is boring, but it’s essential knowledge in the real-world. You always need to think two steps ahead of yourself to work efficiently. Bluesfest showed me the importance of working to a routine, otherwise a situation can unfold into madness if you're unorganised.


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