By Nina Hendy
Moving mountains isn’t for the faint hearted. But this is just another day in the world that's Nitro Circus. Brendan Maher is living proof that it’s possible to move mountains.
As the head of production for Nitro Circus, he’s charged with the monumental task of relocating the global phenomenon to the next town, state and to countries across the globe to perform to sell-out audiences.
It’s not a task for the faint hearted.
“Imagine trying to pick up an entire business and everything you need to run that business and move it to a new site hundreds of kilometres away. Then, doing it again a few days later. Its good fun and we all certainly enjoy it, but there’s no doubt that dismantling and relocating an entire stage event is a mammoth task,” - Brendan Maher, Head of Production, Nitro Circus.
Despite humble beginnings, Nitro Circus has a firm grip on the title of the world’s most successful action sports touring brand.
The global phenomenon obliterates box office records and has cultivated a legion of diehard fans around the world. The show has rolled out across five continents and boasts sold-out shows across Australia, with more shows each year than ever before. The headline act is action sports superstar Travis Pastrana, who leaves a burning impression on the minds of young people across the planet.
The process of mobilising Nitro Circus starts by nailing down venues and routing the tour throughout the country in the most cost-efficient way possible. Then, Maher schedules the shows. Travelling the circus overseas makes the process far more complex because the cast, crew and administrative staff can only travel a certain number of hours a day, he says.
Nitro Circus includes 50 crew members, 40 cast and a handful of others including marketing and PR experts, office administration, ticketing professionals, a doctor and a physio. Packing up and transporting the equipment alone is a phenomenal task. “It takes 15 semi-trailer loads to move Nitro Circus to a new site, which includes about 8 trucks just to transport the dismantled set, lighting trucks, 18 motorbikes, lighting and audio equipment and much more. Once on site, up to 60 roadies are hired to help set up the venue,” Mr Maher says.
“Once you arrive at your destination, it’s a constant hustle to get set up.” You’ve got to relocate 110 staff too, so the process of booking flights and hotels is complex, Maher says. Unpacking and setting up the show takes a day, while the crew has dismantling time down to just three hours.
Stage and Screen has the awesome task of organising the travel for Nitro Circus on its upcoming Australian tour.Travel Manager Daniel Beck says there’s a lot of work behind the scenes in bringing Nitro Circus to life.
“Rolling out such a phenomenal stage show is epic in every sense of the word. It’s a long gestation period. We start working on the logistics six months in advance, negotiating with hotels and pulling it all together.”
While thrilling to work in such an action-fuelled and exciting environment, it can be stressful, and tensions can run high when there’s only hours to set up for each show. Nitro Circus often attracts sell-out shows of 15,000 people.
And despite all the preparation and planning, things don’t always go to plan. Maher recalls the horror on the crew’s faces on their European tour when arriving in Helsinki, Russia to discover that a bespoke fabricated steel set piece the size of a car had been removed from one of the shipping containers. The realisation caused havoc just 35 hours before the show was to go live. The exhausted crew set about sourcing materials and fabricating a replacement at the last minute.
Often, exhausted crew and performers take the final bow, then jump on a tour bus to do it all over again a day or two later.
“When you throw all the different personalities and roles together and put them all into a stressful situation such as performing three shows in a row and travelling interstate, it can certainly get stressful. But we’re professionals, and we all absolutely love what we do.”