In my day job, when I sit down with a customer and talk about business processes one of the first questions I ask after they explain the process to me is “Why do you do it that way?” The answer all too often is “Because we have always done it that way.” And that is my cue to take them on the journey of reimagining that business process. What we often find is that as rules/laws/requirements/whatever have changed over time they have bolted on some other sub-process to maintain compliance instead of reworking the entire process to make sure it was efficient. In one notable case from several years ago, a physical piece of paper was hitting the same two desks in adjacent departments three separate times over the course of a few days instead of just taking care of everything necessary the first time it hit each desk. Needless to say, that got fixed.
When we look at stage design a lot of the same questions can and should be asked. Quite often stage designers, especially newer stage designers or those who are under a time crunch, will draw upon their memories for ideas they have seen with other stages at other matches for inspiration. That is all fine and good. A lot can be learned by looking at stages others have run; especially if you actually shot them. However , there is also a pretty big danger here as well. Just because someone else did it, doesn’t mean it is still legal or maybe even that it was legal at the time. This practice can also limit inspiration. If all you know is “the box” it is often difficult to think outside of it.
What happens all too often is concepts get “approved” in our minds because “well, we have done that for years”. Ah, sound familiar? Rules change folks. The most recent rule book published January of 2019 made some fairly significant changes to stage design. Did you modify your stage design practice to match those rule changes? When you adopt a concept from someone else’s stage design do you run it through the “is this legal” filter or just accept it is okay since someone else did it. “But mom, all my friends are doing it” didn’t work when we were teens and it doesn’t work for stage design.
Any time we sit down to design stages, review stages others have designed, or even look over stages preparing to shoot them we should be casting a critical eye on them in terms of legality. This helps keep our own designs within the bounds of legality and helps us stay abreast of the rules.