Live event production specialists PR Live supplied all technical elements – lighting,
sound and AV – to the recent Friends Fest event, a five day expo-style extravaganza
staged at the Boiler House in Brick Lane, east London which celebrated the hugely
popular landmark American sitcom, “Friends’.

PR Live’s team, project managed by Justin Hammond, were working for live
communication agency Premier PR. The Boiler House was transformed into a replica
set of Monica’s apartment, complete with Central Perk style cafe and pop-up hair
salon where wanabees could get a Rachael Green blow out plus a load of Friends
props and memorabilia. Organised by Comedy Central, tickets for the event sold out
within minutes of going on sale.

PR Live’s crew worked closely with the builders Scena from Croydon. First, they
installed a combination flown / ground supported rigging solution for a television
style “white light’ rig to be positioned above the apartment which comprised around
40 x 2K fresnels. This produced good, even crisp and naturalistic illumination
across the whole space.

For the press launch event, PR Live provided an additional lighting rig of Source
Four Profiles, PARs and Minuettes that was also part flown and part ground
supported on a series of tank traps, scaff poles and other customised rigging

The building is listed, so any rigging has to be approached creatively and with great
care to ensure it was safe and didn’t compromise the look or structural integrity of
the building.

The press launch was attended by a celebrity turnout which included James Michael
Tyler who played the role of Gunther from the Friends favourite coffee shop and
hangout, Central Perk.

For lighting control a ChamSys MQ100 ran everything. Avolites Art dimmers and
various PDs were used to distribute power to the different activity areas including
the hair salon, nail parlour, etc.

A distributed d&b sound system, divided into different zones, provided audio
throughout the space and was concealed as discreetly as possible. It was a mix of
T10s, E3s and E5s chosen for their small size and easy rigging, used for background
music and some DJ sets as well as sound effects and public announcements.

A digital version of the original cordless “Friends’ phone had effects routed to it from
a Sonifex telephone balance unit, and a separate sound system in the toilets played
out looped sound-bites from the series. Sound sources from five different media
players dotted around the exhibition were routed through the main DiGiCo SD9
control console.

PR Live supplied their new 95, 65 and 55 inch Samson LED screens, which were
fitted into the set and used for playing back classic footage from the series which
enjoyed 10 seasons from 1994 – 2004. These clips were stored on BrightSign media

The challenge, explains Justin, was establishing an efficient workflow onsite with
the set company so all departments could function and use their time efficiently
during the get-in and finding a rigging solution that which enabled the lighting
fixtures to be rigged exactly in the right angles and positions above the set to light
it most effectively.

This is where PR Live’s experience knowledge and ability to think “out-of-the-box’
came in and helped make the event enjoyable for the hordes of Friends fans –
original and new – who flocked to enjoy the Friends Fest.