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XLIVE Interview Series
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XLIVE Interview Series - Frank Torres & Mattheis Carley of GES Events Interview

Watch XLIVE’s interview with Frank Torres, Director of Exhibition Operations & Mattheis Carley, Manager of Exhibitions, at GES Events, from the XLIVE Annual Conference & Expo, December 9-12, 2018 in Las Vegas.

About GES Events: “GES is a global, full-service provider for live events. Clients depend on our 3,000+ passionate employees throughout the world for unparalleled service and consistent execution of breakthrough experiences that excite and engage. We generate a competitive edge and measurable return for clients by partnering with them to blend the art of high-impact creativity and innovation with the science of easy-to-use technology, strategy and worldwide logistics.”

[00:03] RIESA – We’re here with Frank Torres and Mattheis Carley with GES Events. We have a lot of exciting things to talk about with the company, so we’re going to dive right into it first with both of you explaining for us what your position is with the company!

[00:15] FRANK – Hi, I’m Frank Torres the Director of Exhibition Operations. So I am in charge of the logistics, planning, and management of our traveling exhibitions

[00:23] MATTHEIS – And I’m Mattheis Carley, the manager of exhibitions for GES Events.

[00:27] Great! So for anyone watching who has never heard of GES Events, although I don’t know how that can be possible since you’re a global leader, could you give us an overview of what your company does and what you specialize in?

[00:43] FRANK – Yeah, like you were saying, GES Events is a pretty large company. We do many things such as trade show activations, we do live events for brand activations, and we also do, which is the side that Mattheis and I focus on, is the traveling exhibitions. So we have a great IPs that we work with and we have these fantastic shows which we’re in charge of, and which travel around the world. It’s really been very exciting for us.

[01:05] Nice. Let’s dive into that a little deeper. Those traveling exhibitions…what is that and how does that work?

[01:13] MATTHEIS – So Harry Potter, for example, is a chance for fans to step into the world of the film. Just to give you a sense of scale, it’s about 24 semi-trucks worth of props, costumes, and set pieces from the films, which we created into this experience in partnership with Warner brothers. It gives people a chance to see favorite characters.

[02:13] FRANK – The key for what we do, is we try to create these immersive environments. So we’re taking the work that the film makers did, and their attention to detail, and we’re bringing it to the fan so that when the fans come into our experience, they feel like they are a part of the movie. These fans are very invested in these stories, right? A lot of them grew up with it. As we know it’s a global brand. So our job is to respect the brand, respect what the filmmakers did, and bring that to the fans in a way that they’re going to enjoy it. So they feel part of the experience. That’s what we try to do.

[02:47] And how do you involve all of the senses in that experience? Can you talk a little bit about that?

[03:01] FRANK – Absolutely. One of the things we start with, is we try to control everything. From the beginning we create a black box. So our template is a dark room from where now we can bring in all our scenery, artifacts and props, and display them in a way that is extremely immersive. One of Mattheis’ fortes is enhancing that immersiveness, to appeal to all of the senses. He is kind of our ‘MacGyver’ in a sense of coming up with different ways, and in different areas, to really enhance experience. You can display something and it’s kind of static, but if you can bring in the smells, the lighting effects or smoke effects. Tittle things that are not too technical or complicated but really enhance the experience for the fans, that’s what really makes our show is wonderful. Mattheis is really great at it, and I’m sure he can speak to that and how he gets to that.

[03:51] I love that. So Mattheis, what are some of those details that you get really excited about?

[03:59] MATTHEIS – Well that’s what it’s all about. Taking people into this experience, and treating it like it’s a stage. You’re not just viewing this production, you’re in the production. Anything that I can do to amp that up, surprise people in ways, and make them think, “Whoa, what was that?” That’s what I really love to do. For example, in our Avatar exhibition, we have this 10 foot tall family and they’re standing around a campfire. So we wanted to have a campfire that looks like fire, smells like fire, sounds like fire, and even has wisps of smoke coming up out of it. I was able to work with our incredible team and come up with this fire pit that was so realistic, we actually had a fire marshall come and tell us a real fire was happening! And part of the challenge too with this is having it run for 12 hours a day, seven days a week for, for millions of visitors in our shows. It’s a fun challenge.

[05:08] And it’s portable of course. Right?

[05:08] MATTHEIS – Exactly, it’s being taken all over the world.

[05:14] FRANK – That’s one of our biggest challenges, the fact that our shows are not permanent installations. Everything we do has to be something that we can quickly disassemble, store, travel, reassemble, and make it user friendly. At the same time, we don’t want these things can go down to break. We don’t want to have an ‘out of order’ sign on anything. We use technology in a way that’s very subtle, where it enhances the experience, but if something were to go wrong, people just don’t know it was there. So we’re trying to find ways to use the technology so it doesn’t interfere with the fan experience. And that’s very important to us.

[05:49] MATTHEIS – Each experience is a unique opportunity for people to see the show in a way that’s unique to their location.

[05:58] FRANK – Right, and many times the ‘black box’ isn’t a rectangle necessarily. So depending on the venue, you might end up with two floors that you have to deal with. So yes, we try to make it a ‘black box’, but we have to deal with the challenges of the venue. For example the venue might have columns. So how do we integrate the columns, make them disappear, or make them part of the show in a way that is creative? We can bring them into the scenery, make them look like a tree for example, so we need to bring the building’s architecture into the show, or conceal it in a way that it doesn’t become obvious to the guests.

[06:32] MATTHEIS – And a lot of times we’re going into places that weren’t meant to hold these types of exhibitions.

[06:37] But you make magic happen right?

[06:40] FRANK – Right. And I think one of the great things for us is the fact that we have these properties that we get to tour. We were talking about Harry Potter, the exhibition, but he mentioned the Avatar exhibition, which is a completely different property. And you may remember the film, it was a great film with a lot of technology. It was a beautiful film to look at, visually stunning, so being able to replicate those environments in real life, has been a lot of fun. And now we also have our Game of Thrones exhibition. That’s a different demographic. So what we have in that show is slightly different, for a more adult audience. But again, it allows us the opportunity to bring these different effects and things into our shows, in a way that appeals to all these different audiences. It’s a lot of fun.

[07:23] I’m going to ask us for our viewers, but mostly, for me, how can people find out more about this? How can they see it? Do they have to wait for it to come to their city or is there a tour schedule? How does this work?

[07:34] FRANK – Yeah, through ges.com you can follow the different activations that we have. It’s not only our exhibitions, but we do other things, and everything gets announced through the webstite. And then yes, if you’re willing to travel our three current shows are in Europe, touring, and eventually they’ll come back to the US. Harry Potter has been around for several years. It started here in the US and it’s gone all over the world. It’s quite exciting. It keeps us quite busy.

[08:06] Who are your typical customers and who should reach out to you to learn more about your services?

[08:06] FRANK – I think pretty much any company that’s looking to engage their audience, whatever it might be. I think what we do well is immersive environments and we can work directly with the IP owner to find what they think is best for their audience, to create the environment that they’re looking for. I think that’s really what makes us different.

[08:26] MATTHEIS – We’re a global, full service provider for live events.

[08:32] Nice. Well, that’s what we’re all about! Live events. Frank and Mathis, thank you so much for chatting with us.

[08:37] FRANK – Thank you so much!

[08:38] MATTHEIS – Thanks for having us!

[08:39] We’ll see you guys next time.

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