Balloon Chat

Uncategorized Boards => The "Star" Interview => Topic started by: Graham Lee on January 16, 2013, 11:21:36 PM

Title: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Graham Lee 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/ (http://www.balloonanimal.co.uk/)

He is also the star from Ballooniville, http://www.dac.mlmcvoy.com/ballooniville.html (http://www.dac.mlmcvoy.com/ballooniville.html)
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Graham Lee 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.
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Jana 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.
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: magirob 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
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Jana 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.
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Jana 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
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Jana 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.
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Jana 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.
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Jana 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.
Title: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: SoniaPayne 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
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Jana 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 (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.
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Jana 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.
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Jana 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 (http://www.balloonanimal.co.uk) and have recently set up http://www.facebook.com/ballooniville (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).
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Jana 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).
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: magirob 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
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Jana on May 05, 2013, 11:04:15 PM
Thank you Rob,
any extra questions or answers that need more detail do let me know of course.
I had a lovely booking today, outside in the big garden of a traditional English rural pub, amazingly had so few balloons popping which can be the fear with the sun shining and the children running around outside.  Three bouncy castles but not making much noise at all and a very good coffee machine so very nice.
Hope y'all having an either enjoyable and/or prosperous bank holiday weekend
David
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: KJ Entertainments on May 06, 2013, 03:12:38 AM
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions David. They give a wonderful insight into some of the work you do.  I have another one for you though. We all do jobs etc that give us great satisfaction both with our work,  also the clients we serve. Can you tell us a little about your most satisfying event?
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Jana on May 23, 2013, 10:37:05 AM
Thank you Dan for this question and difficult question to answer because sometimes the most straightforward bookings can be highlighted by such factors as having a wonderful audience and pleasant surroundings, but looking at the bigger picture when I occasionally work abroad in different cultures those are the bookings which can be most inspiring and stick in the mind, for example the Middle East where audiences are very appreciate.  Doing the same thing but in completely different surroundings gives you a fresh outlook on your own work.  I’ve had bookings on boats, trains and in limos but I don’t think ever on a plane although I have made balloons on planes.  I wonder who the first balloon artist will be to make a balloon model in space, (not too sure a balloon pump would work)
yours
David

21, What are your balloon goals for the future?

More time to spend on my own projects rather than the day to day or week to week ‘commercial’ work.

22, If you could start all over again, would you change anything?

I would have started with balloons earlier and younger but then maybe I would have ended up as a different sort of balloon modeller better or worse.

23, How would you like the future of balloon modelling to develop?

Balloon Modelling is a rapidly developing art form, so it is going in the right direction.  It is a great time to be a balloon modeller I am sure and to watch its development and hopefully be a little part of it.
I would like to see some patterned, striped and spotty 260s.
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Graham Lee on May 23, 2013, 11:02:05 AM
Quote from: "Jana"
I would like to see some patterned, striped and spotty 260s.


David, You need to check the internet then as these have been out for I reckon at least 6 months now  :D

Thanks for doing the interview, I think you won on the longest week for the interview that we have had but thanks, always appreciated.
You know I love you.
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Jana on May 31, 2013, 09:25:41 AM
Hi Graham,
Well you know I would only ever get balloons from you :)
I 've really been savouring and enjoying the interview, and thank you again for letting me take part.
Only got 5 questions left now

Also looking forward to Birmingham
Working on two deliveries for Saturday, 20 table centrepieces superhero style and another one which is 4 frog hats, 2 chicken hats plus a giant frog and a giant chicken. Lucky I started it all yesterday.

24, Who's the most famous person you have made a balloon creation for?

Many from many different areas of the entertainment world; music, acting, sport, art, etc, but I’ve always prided myself in being as comfortable working in varied and opposite environments for example from palaces to adventure playgrounds, from 5 star hotels to a house down the road, for princes or for paupers.

25, How do you keep the enthusiasm going & what still excites you about our great world of latex

Because balloon modelling happens quickly in your hands and then it’s done, it doesn’t need to dry or be set like paint or clay, every time you make something new it’s exciting.
This. plus the feedback from the audience.

yours
David
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Jana on June 05, 2013, 08:29:26 AM
26,
What inspires or is your thought process in coming up with a new design
If I have a new design to make, I will usually have some instant thoughts on it.  If I have time I will make some prototypes, otherwise just go for it, but in between I’ll try and have a good think (or maybe chat with Graham!!!) to see if there could be a better ‘less obvious’ way of approaching the theme or design.

I find looking at how cartoonists, or model makers using different materials (eg plastic toys, soft toys and other merchandise or even cake designs) helpful in providing a quick change of focus and sometimes bringing to light certain details of colour or proportion that might not initially have seemed the most important.
In a more general day to day way, looking in shop windows (doesn’t have to be toy shops), exhibitions, watching cartoons, looking at other art and sculptures can provide endless inspiration.

27, Who would you like to work with dead or alive?
In a team with Walt Disney and Salvador Dali.
Title: Re: David Crofts, March 2013
Post by: Jana on June 20, 2013, 12:09:29 PM
28, What makes you laugh?
Sometimes music, but not meaning comedy music, more like for example a superfast and perfectly timed and accurate guitar solo, that could make me laugh in sheer wonder.
Other things include funny situations.  Certainly things that Graham says to me, or sometimes silly things which I realise I have done.  And definitely all the very funny comments which my daughter makes.

It's been a lot of fun doing this interview, it seems like a long time since I began, hope to see some of you in Birmingham next week,
With Best Wishes
David Crofts