Behind The Scenes


Many of us love attending music festivals and concerts, but do we really know what goes on behind the scenes? My father, Jim Ellis, is one of the head lighting engineers and riggers (a person who specializes in lifting and moving extremely heavy objects) in San Diego. I was lucky enough to shadow him these past couple of weekends at The Waterfront Park and Viejas Arena in San Diego and really see what it is like to set up these festivals and concerts. From pushing crates and boxes to climbing 75ft up in the air, I got to see it all and found out the real truth about what really happens behind the scenes. Take a look at how dangerous and rigorous this job can actually be.


Here we will take a look at what these people do. From climbing 75ft up in air, to doing math equations, there is a whole range of fun and games for these riggers.

September 29| Waterfront Park San Diego.
CRSSD Music Festival occurred in the beautiful, sunny San Diego. This was just the beginning of the many lights and stages Jim Ellis and his crew had to finish before the madness began.

September 29| Waterfront Park San Diego.
Backstage before set up, Craig gives a lesson on how to tie a New York Bowline.When it is a long festival weekend, they sometimes set up a few trailers where they can take naps in betweeen sets. The rat comes out of the sewer, runs around the junkie, and then goes back down the sewer.This was Craig's saying to teach them how to remember the tie! September 29|Waterfront Park San Diego.
Seth (left) and Brandon (middle) practice the “New York Bowline” while Nevin Kleege, the guru as they call him, watches over them. 
November 11| Viejas Arena, San Diego State University. 
Now here is where the Pythagorean theorem comes in handy! When your point has to hang between two beams, they use this math equation to determine the length of the bridle.
 November 11| San Diego State University. 
I was able to follow my dad, Jim Ellis 75ft up into the air and see first hand what he really does. It was quite terrifying to say the least. 
November 11|Viejas Arena, San Diego Sate University 
Being 75ft up in the air, Jim Ellis has to pull the ropes up to hang the lights for the concert. Required by law, he is harnessed in for safety reasons in case there is an accident. You are also not allowed to have anything in your pockets when you are up there in case something falls and hits someone beneath you. 
November 11| Viejas Arena, San Diego State University.
Here I am 75ft up in the air capturing how they hang the ropes and lights. I had such a different perspective from being up that high.
November 11| Viejas Arena, San Diego State University. 
Here, Jim Ellis is using a machine to pull up more lights. He has to keep watch on all four corners to make sure that the ropes do not overlap. If they do, everything will fall.
October 1| Waterfront Park San Diego
Without the all the backstage work and set up, we would not be able to enjoy all of these concerts and festivals, so thank you!

In Action

Watch this video and see Jim Ellis, the head lightning engineer and rigger show us his typical day of work.

The Numbers

Many of us attend festivals and concerts yearly but do not actually calcuate how much we spend. Here I will break down the cost of an average weekend at Coachella showing you how many people attend, how ticket prices are drastically rising and even the break down of gas.

Behind The Scenes | San Diego, CA | Send Email | Copyright 2017 | Site by Bailey Ellis