Running a festival seems like a tough task, but when you are creating multiple immersive experiences throughout the year, you really do have to know what you’re doing. I got chatting with Ben from Quick Panda Productions who was ever so kind enough to tell us all about his crazy ideas, and how he manages to execute them.
Can you tell us about how it all started?
We started the company about 8 years ago; I used to run bookings for local bars and venues around Cornwall and Devon, and got the opportunity to put on a band. I was looking at venues to put them on at, and I found this bar called Shy Bar, and the guy who owned that place called Ian Whittaker and I knew each other vaguely. And like I said, I was going to put on a gig, but he came up with the idea of actually trying to find a better venue, and we found out the beach nearby could do that. We put the event on at this beach in Newquay and it went really well! That was our first gig that we did together, and then after that we thought of expanding by doing more concerts, and then eventually we started running some festivals. So it kind of bloomed from there. Now, we're running several reasonably sized events and it's become more like full-time occupation for all of us.
Yeah. Well, I mean what a cool thing to kind of get involved in. Can you tell me about how you came up with the themes for the Great Estate Festival?
I suppose it's just about knocking ideas back and forth. We just knew we wanted to do something really different that hasn't been done before in the area.
Part of it was finding the venue; we just we were lucky enough to make the right phone calls to the family that owned the actual estate. Once we had the venue we tried to come up with as many quirky and wonderful ideas as we could. Then we just thought of the wackiest things we could possibly put on like hot-air balloon rides and camel racing and Mexican wrestling.
We used a really local company to help with the branding. Some of my friends who live locally run a design company called Temple, and they helped us put together these pieces of the branding for it, which was very sort of Monty Python. And then another friend of ours came up with these really clever promotional videos and it all just started falling together. Once once you come up with these crazy ideas, then you have to sort of make them a reality.
I've noticed a lot of the stalls you use at your events seem to be local small businesses themselves. Is that something that you guys consciously made a decision on?
Not especially… because we get applications from all over the UK. So we'll take our pick of the best looking ones. But also we do try to include as many local traders as we can, so there's such a lot of choice in the west country as it’s such a big thing down here. There are hundreds of really amazing local vendors and traders so keep it as local as we can. And also there's a festival that we do have that it is in Cornwall, so we try and sort of give it that Cornish flavour everywhere we can.
Do you have a personal favourite of all the festivals you run?
Favourite Festival… I think they're also so different it's hard to really pinpoint one, and when you're actually running an event as well, you spend so much time figuring out the logistics and you get very little time to actually let your hair down. Both the Little Orchard Cider and Music Festival and The Great Estates are just really enjoyable.
What do you think is the trickiest thing about running a festival?
It’s probably the planning and logistics, and also just catering for so many people in such a short period of time as there so moving parts. It's kind of managing all the individual components of the festival, and having a really good team in places is what makes it easier. If you didn't have a really great team that you can trust, then think you’d be in a big pickle with running a big event like that. It just comes down to some really good teams that you can kind of manage and trust really.
I can imagine you must have quite a lot of people working in place to kind of keep the cogs turning behind the screen.
Yeah. It does make you think that probably a lot of people who've tried to do events haven’t really realised the full extent of how much preparation goes into it. We’re a full time business now, we work year round just to produce essentially two to three events a year, and we've got a full team of people that make the time to deliver a relatively small event, but there’s still so much that has to go into it to make it all fit together and work well. I think some people think ‘you know, it would be quite easy for fun to put up a few marquees, how hard can it be?’ But then when you actually dissect it and look at the actual workings behind the scenes, it's a huge amount of work and planning to make it run smoothly.
Can you tell me how long have you been using Ticket Tailor, and why did you decide to use us?
I think we've probably using it for a good five years now. There are so many companies that would approach us trying to be our ticket providers, but then they’d take a booking fee which, obviously when you start getting into selling thousands of tickets, then you’re talking about crazy about the money! So what we like about Ticket Tailor is that you can be in control of everything, and you guys aren’t taking a chunk of the booking fee or a percentage which was quite appealing to us.
There’s also the fact that it's really user friendly as well. I'm not the most computer literate person in the world, and we can get an event setup and on sale very quickly. If we’ve ever had difficulties we found that like Ticket Tailor will get back very quickly. It's just the fact that it's so user friendly and cost effective which is probably why we saw went down that route. We’ve used some other ticket companies in the past when they start taking the booking fees it's just starts getting very, very expensive.
Great stuff! Keep an eye out for the Great Estate and the Little Orchard Cider and Music Festival in the next year!