Author Topic: David Crofts, March 2013  (Read 6220 times)

Graham Lee

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David Crofts, March 2013
« on: January 16, 2013, 11:21:36 PM »
David will be doing the interview in March for us  :D  

His website details are, http://www.balloonanimal.co.uk/

He is also the star from Ballooniville, http://www.dac.mlmcvoy.com/ballooniville.html
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Graham Lee

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Re: David Crofts, March 2013
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2013, 05:18:15 PM »
David has just had an extra addition to the family, I spoke with him last week and he is still up for the interview but it may take him a couple of weeks to get into a new routine.
Those wondering it was a boy, Charles. David and Jana already have a little girl Mary.
« Last Edit: January 01, 1970, 01:00:00 AM by Guest »
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Jana

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Re: David Crofts, March 2013
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2013, 11:13:17 AM »
First of all, thank you Graham, for inviting me to take part in the star interview.  I am sincerely honoured to be asked and I hope that my story and answers will contain some morsels of interest and amusement for the reader.  Also I’m very happy to be only a month late starting and I wish everyone a Happy Easter.

1, What road led you into balloon modelling?

It is interesting how we all discovered balloons from different avenues; sometimes from other areas of entertainment and sometimes from other fields altogether.
I got into balloons by way of a combination of an interest in magic and an interest in art and arts and crafts.  I still remember the days before I knew anything about balloons.  I’d seen simple balloon models but had no idea how they ‘stuck together’.  I have no memory of balloon animals as a child, but perhaps I’m too old.
I would have never guessed that balloons would become such a big part of my life.  If my advisors at school had known better they could have saved me a whole lot of time and messing about attempting all sorts of other careers.

I do look forward to continuing with this interview, thank you Graham for the thought provoking set questions and I’ll try and offer a few answers each day.
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magirob

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Re: David Crofts, March 2013
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2013, 12:05:49 PM »
Congratulations on the new member of your family , look forward to reading the rest of your interview :D
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Jana

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Re: David Crofts, March 2013
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2013, 08:11:49 AM »
Thank you Rob, by the way I love the one balloon a day concept, it's looking really good,
here is my next reply
Yours
David

2, When did you get started with balloons?

1997.  I had a residency at Chiquitos Mexican Restaurant and Bar.  It started off as Sunday lunchtimes and then Saturday lunchtimes where added, then Friday nights and Saturday nights too, at several different branches in and around London.  The residency continued for a good few years and I started to include more and more balloon work as I went along.  Originally it was mainly close-up magic.  The balloon work came in partly as guests were asking for it and partly as a way to entertain the many repeat customers (which hopefully I had something to do with, that is, the fact that they were repeat customers) and to generate new material for them at a sufficient pace.  As I had taken a lot of regular catering jobs to support me during my student years, this gave me an understanding of the busy and sometimes rushed dynamic in this sort of restaurant environment and I was able to work with and around the other staff.  These days I only do occasional restaurant work but am very happy to do so whenever called for.  Also, back in those Chiquito days I remember having three or four good meals a week which was a big added bonus.
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Jana

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Re: David Crofts, March 2013
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2013, 09:13:32 AM »
3, What’s your best twisting experience?

BallooniVille was the most fun but also the hardest work.  It was an intense schedule.  There were all the different elements of the show; live action, puppets, time-lapse, locations, arts and crafts, music to be put together as well as the balloon modelling schedule which was going on simultaneously with the filming, making and keeping on top of all the set pieces and props and being prepared for the next day’s filming.
Oh and I mustn’t forget that I met my wife through balloons too, I would have never expected that! That has got to be my best twisting experience.
In fact I’m logged in under Jana’s login at the moment which could be confusing.
Yours
David
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Jana

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Re: David Crofts, March 2013
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2013, 10:35:26 AM »
4, What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you during a ballooning/entertaining session?

I’ve been very lucky not to have had too many injuries.
I once had a lady use some very unpleasant language at me after my last balloon, at the end of a long gig, at the end of a long series of gigs, at the end of a long Christmas season.  I wasn’t going to make any more models and anyway, I’d built up to a big finale.  It wouldn’t have made sense to do ‘just one more’.  But this lady didn’t think so.  However I politely wished her a Merry Christmas and she responded in a most verbal manner in front of everybody young and old alike.  Not really a worst experience I suppose but it did spoil the moment and it is something that stuck in my mind.

5, What do you most enjoy about twisting & why?

Conceptually it’s such a simple thing: pure latex balloon, add air, and then approach potentially an endless variety of subject matters.  With wonder, magic and comedy all along the way.
As magicians sometimes say ‘packs small, plays big’, although I do end up taking quite a lot of gear… sometimes.
It’s art and entertainment, comedy and seriousness all rolled into one.
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Jana

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Re: David Crofts, March 2013
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2013, 11:16:02 AM »
6, What's your favourite age to entertain?

I would say I like the variety, I wouldn’t like to just entertain one age bracket all the time.
In fact I think a variety of ages really adds to a performance.  Especially when many ages, perhaps several generations are all present at the same time and they are all fascinated and enjoying the show, then you know you are hitting the spot.  There are not many other media that can have this scope.

7, Do you have the same act but vary the presentation for all ages or do you have set acts for different ages?

Very good question.  I would say the same more or less.  Again that’s the magic of working with this medium.  It’s like a song which can be enjoyed by all ages.  Of course the presentation does change on the surface if you are working for 3 year olds, 7 year olds, 14 year olds, 21, 40, 70 … but underneath the act and the material is very much the same.
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Jana

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Re: David Crofts, March 2013
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2013, 09:02:08 AM »
Hope you all have a great weekend with the odd booking here and there,
Here are a few more answers,
Yours
David

8, What’s your favourite thing to make at the moment?

I find that many of my bookings, big and small alike, have some sort of themed element to them, which I will  try to accommodate, either with premade work or on the spot work, so I become occupied with whatever themes and designs are coming up in the diary over the next few weeks.
More on this one later but I want to get onto the next question now,

9, What is the most asked for model?

The thing is with making balloons for the public or for a client is that you have to make what they want but also you have to ‘steer it’ and control it, especially if everyone is asking for the same thing, or for what they have just seen.
It’s great when you are surprised and have a request for something which seems completely out of character for the person.

10, What do you tend to do more of if stuck in the 'balloon production line' mode?

Balloon production line every now and then isn’t so bad.  You get to try to entertain and have a little chat with every guest.  But you need to be prepared for it and decide on a little ‘menu’ as a basis to keep things moving. And accept that the audience will enjoy your work even though you might not be showcasing your latest and greatest creations.
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SoniaPayne

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David Crofts, March 2013
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2013, 04:56:44 PM »
Loving the interview David. Congratulations to you both on your new bundle of joy :)

Questions from me :) I love the Ballooniville clip on your website.

How did ballooniville come about?

 How many hours does it take to film one episode?

What are the challenges of making each episode?

Look forward to your next set of answers :)
Take care
Sonia x
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Jana

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Re: David Crofts, March 2013
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2013, 12:56:50 PM »
Hi Sonia, thank you so much, and thank you for these questions - pleased you are enjoying my interview, with my previous answers I hope I’m not sounding too much like a politician by not answering them properly, but sometimes a question can spark off other thoughts rather than a direct answer.  These are good questions, glad to hear you like the clip, there are a few more clips of the ‘puppet-show’/animation part of the show on the Cartoonito website at:  http://www.cartoonito.co.uk/tv-show/ballooniville

Ballooniville started off as just an animation, back in 2008.  Jana and I looked into different ways of making and animating balloon puppets, stop frame, solid latex models, green screen, rods etc.  We consulted with and worked with some brilliant puppeteers, led by Francis Wright with Rebecca Nagan and Sheila Clark (they have all worked on lots of different shows), plus myself and Jana every now and then when extra pairs of hands were required.  We came up with a system of putting in extra twists to give the puppets flexibility of movement.  We called these twists ‘scrap twists’ as each one was held closed by a little scrap of suitably coloured balloon.  We also used weights as well as specially made rods, all made by hand.
As the concept developed, the live action with children learning how to balloons, the other arts and crafts, the location adventures and the music and the time-lapse were added.  We have a wonderful arts and crafts lady called Sandy Thornton, (who now does some work for Mr Maker)
One of the biggest challenges was that we were filming two episodes a day for day after day after day, and keeping up with the schedule of making models and set pieces for the next days ahead.  I always thought that other balloon modellers would be surprised to know how quickly that part of  the show had to be filmed (hope it does not show too much).  Props could occasionally be re-used but each episode covers a very different subject.  The animations were made separately, again about two episodes being filmed per day.  Most of that was 160’s which was a very pleasant change to the bigger stuff in the live studio.  I would be making models whilst the rehearsals and filming commenced and would occasionally rush into the studio to repair a popped puppet leg etc.

11, Who is your market aimed at?

As far as day to day or week to week balloon modelling work goes: Corporate Events and Private Parties, about half half
I probably do about 50% children’s events, 25% grown-ups and 25% mixed.

12, What kind of work do you do mostly - parties? Corporate? Etc

Pretty much 50/50 corporate events and private parties.
It’s enjoyable to be working in a variety of venues and locations.
Some of the more lavish private parties can be like mini corporate events and vice versa.
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Jana

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Re: David Crofts, March 2013
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2013, 10:59:48 PM »
14, What irritates you most at a gig?

Probably the same old chestnuts; being asked to make balloon hats for babies, parents getting pushy in lines, parents talking too loudly at the back of a room when you are doing a little show (I know Graham has ways of dealing with this), but also clients or event organisers who are nervous and think they need to over-organise and end up making the other performers nervous or edgy.
But also not being able to find anywhere to park even though I’ve left p l e n t y of time, not leaving enough time to find somewhere to park (I rarely let this happen these days but it still can in central London), getting parking tickets or forgetting to pay the congestion charge.
Also the audiences pulling too much stuff out of my bags especially if the parents are standing by and doing nothing to help me.
Also sounds systems turned up to loud at small events (or maybe I am getting old), but sometimes the sound distorts if the amp. is underpowered and it makes it hard to talk to anyone.
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Jana

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Re: David Crofts, March 2013
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2013, 06:15:30 PM »
15, How do you book yourself?

Word of mouth.  I should really spend more time on that side of things but these days a business card and a website seem to be the main two necessary ingredients.
I have http://www.balloonanimal.co.uk and have recently set up http://www.facebook.com/ballooniville.
Also I have some very faithful and efficient agents.

16, What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever made?

The biggest single item is a 40 foot long caterpillar which I created for the company Proctor and Gamble, it was based on their brand of nappies ‘Flex’ which feature a colourful caterpillar and was set up as an installation in their headquarter’s atrium in Weybridge.  The project was a collaboration with Michal Kahn and also assisted by Caroline Ainslee (Bubblz) and Christine Belcher (Twistina).
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Jana

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Re: David Crofts, March 2013
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2013, 12:47:15 PM »
I might be taking longer than ever to complete this interview but I think it's best not to rush!!
Hope I'm not holding anyone else up from starting another one...
Yours David

18, What advice would you give to someone starting out, or wanting to increase their business?

Embrace the fact that balloon modelling is both an art and an entertainment and take balloons with you wherever you go

19, What road in latex do you see yourself taking in the future

Hopefully ever widening experiences.  But I will feel lucky and blessed if I can just continue as I am.

20, What is your personal goal when you set off to work? Is it money or to entertain etc?

This question has much comedy potential, but in reality hopefully both.  And in fact, you have to have one to have the other.  We all need to be paid, but it’s no good if you leave a booking having not done your best (and to add a cliché, you’re only as good as your last job).
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magirob

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Re: David Crofts, March 2013
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2013, 12:56:49 PM »
I don't mind how long you take David, really interested to read your answers and find out more about you :-)

Rob
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