What’s a Flying Director? (40% Artist, 30% Diplomat, 30% Rigger)

Fly•ing Di•rec•tor [flahy-ing] [dih-rek-ter] – noun: An invaluable member of the production team responsible for achieving the flying effects the Director envisions, no matter how many different hats they have to wear between original concept and opening night.

A Flying Director is first and foremost an artist. Sculptors work in clay, painters in oils. Our medium is flight. We start with what the director envisions. All decisions –rigging, style of flying system, harness type, choreography, performer and operator choices – are made to achieve that vision. Flying Directors, because of their experience and their artistic investment, turn that vision into a reality.

Because flying affects every other design element –lighting, sound, costumes, scenery, props, direction, stagemanagement – Flying Directors not only have to be aware of how they are affecting other parts of the production, but also have to seamlessly integrate the effects with those other elements. The real value of the Flying Director comes into play when this work has to be done on the fly.

A Flying Director is many things during a production. A typical scenario might go like this:

During load in the planned rigging position of the flying gear gets moved due to some unforeseen obstacle. It now has to get incorporated into existing rigging (50% Rigger, 50% MacGyver). This means the blocking is changed, so now the performer has to get hooked up in full view of the audience. How will that happen discreetly? (50% Director, 50% Magician). The scenery gets modified so the original choreography is potentially dangerous and must be changed (50% Choreographer, 50% Safety Consultant).The director wants to change the choreography back and has to politely but firmly be told “No, that’s unsafe” (50% Diplomat, 50% Risk Assessor). The costumes get changed instead and ideas have to be brought forth to mask the now obvious harness (50% Harness Master, 50% Costumer). Due to all these changes, there are only two hours available for the “four hour” flying rehearsal (50% Efficient Trainer, 50% Drill Sergeant). Because of the stress of the changes ruining all of their preplanning, most of the parties involved are not getting along, threatening progress of the already reduced flying rehearsal (50% Diplomat, 50% Stage Manager). During the rehearsal the performer who has never had a problem with heights suddenly does (40% Motivational Speaker, 30% Therapist, 30% Diva Wrangler).This is when all the tricks of the trade learned during thousands of hours of dealing with nothing but flying effects (100% Experienced) becomes invaluable, making the flying effects spectacular on opening night and the entire run. (150% Dedicated). That is the value of a Flying Director (By the way, did we mention 100% fun to work with?)