Pirate Crew is the leading supplier of technicians to the live events sector. With the launch of the company’s new free recruitment platform, Pirate Pro, it’s even easier for recruiters to find reliable, skilled crew and for technicians to land jobs. The Stage spoke to Pirate Crew to find out how it works...
Pirate Crew is a technical crew solution for live events and theatre. We provide skilled technicians for all kinds of live productions and all of our crew have a genuine interest in, and motivation, for the work and productions they are involved in.
There is still a view that a crew company are just bodies or lifters or humpers. Gavin Pell and Rob Reading, who set up the company, wanted to gather people who were doing bits of casual work and provide them with more sustained work and build their skills. These days, there aren’t many West End shows that we don’t have some sort of part in: we do pre-builds, load-ins and get-outs and we support a lot of tours, too. We supply technical people who come equipped with tools, knowledge, experience and a genuine love for the industry.
We pride ourselves on three strengths: our extensive expertise and experience as a company, our details-focused approach to working with clients and the importance of treating our technicians properly, training them up and ensuring they love the work they do.
We don’t just provide crew but enthusiastic, experienced technicians who are proactive on site, asking the right questions, and they become a part of the production. We talk to our clients and gather the right information about the job before we start to match our best technicians to the available roles. We make sure the right people are doing the right jobs.
Pirate Pro is our new recruitment tool tailored specifically to place production people into jobs within theatre, TV and live events. It’s far more than just a generic staff-sourcing service. From the candidate’s end, we do a deep dive into their skills and experience. From the recruiter’s end we get very detailed information about each new role. The abundance and accuracy of the information that we curate from both sides means that we can create the perfect match of person to company, which saves everyone time and money. And the tool is completely free.
We often get asked if we can recommend somebody for a job on a production. We supply crew for short-term contracts – that’s what Pirate Crew does as a company – but if it’s a longer contract we are always happy to recommend somebody. So we’re formalising that process with Pirate Pro.
There’s a common problem in the industry, which is finding people with the right skill set or experience. The traditional way is to post a job and then you get 50 or 60 CVs that you have to go through. We wanted to make it easier. In the last couple of years we’ve been rebuilding our database so that we have much more detailed information about what skills people have – what desks they can use, what automation systems etc. That has allowed us to discover the gaps we have in our own business, recruit more specifically and also plan specific training. For Pirate Pro we built on that idea and turned it into a platform for matching employers with people looking for work.
When technicians sign up they fill out a profile form. This takes between 30 minutes and an hour to complete, but that level of detail allows us to match people more carefully and successfully to the right jobs, and the questions have been formulated in consultation with top professionals in the industry – this is the information they want. Then we build a profile with the candidate, we pre-qualify their references and wait for an opportunity to come in that matches their skills.
We’ve already managed to match a number of people to jobs. The technical director of London’s National Theatre needed a Covid compliance officer for a rehearsal period. He told us what the dates were, what the money was and what his requirements were, and we used our platform to find an appropriate person. We pre-qualified them, made sure they were happy with the dates and the money, and their references had already been checked when they signed up to the platform. Then we simply passed them over to the National and said: "Here is an appropriate person." We had placed them in the job within two hours.
On other recruitment websites that are not bespoke, recruiters might be trying to fill 30 positions for a show and getting 50 CVs for each position. That is a huge amount of work and many applicants will not have the right skills or experience. On Pirate Pro, the client will come to us and tell us the requirements of the role and we will use our platform to find three or four suitable people ready to take the job who already have the information, with their references pre-qualified.
Pirate Pro goes beyond a CV. We have details about specific skills. So if we have someone looking for an LX Number One for a touring musical, but the show is running on an Ion desk, there is some projection involved and some pyros that need to be queued, our database can find someone with all of those skills.
It’s not an automated system. Other recruitment platforms inundate you with job applications that have no relevance, but people who sign up to Pirate Pro will only be approached by us if it’s the type of job they are looking for. It’s a personal service. We will phone them up to say: "This is the job, this is the money, this is the experience needed, would you like to be passed on for it?"
We’ve seen a big uptake in people looking for work this year, particularly longer-term jobs. So Pirate Pro offers a free, curated handover service, acting as a brief middleman who can present clients with a few strong, pre-qualified candidates. For candidates, the focus is on securing work they can be enthusiastic about and finding opportunities for career progression.
It’s a free service for everybody because everyone has the same problem. We think we’ve found the solution.