Chicago Flyhouse Blog

[Q + A] Flyhouse Internship

Posted by Flyhouse on Aug 28, 2018 11:50:01 AM

Flyhouse Internship Post (1)

The typical internship involves a lot of busy work of filing paper, making copies, running errands, and essentially taking on mindless tasks. Flyhouse has never subscribed to the typical model of anything and internships are no different. Katherine came to us from the University at Buffalo on the recommendation of one of our Associate Trainers and from day one she became a member of Flyhouse by being thrown into challenging projects right away. Before she left, we had her answer a few questions about her experience.

What peaked your interest in taking an internship with Flyhouse?

The videos that Flyhouse put out peaked my interest primarily. The initial recommendation came from a teacher who also works with the company, but I was really sold that this would be a good place to spend the summer because of the educational videos that help to make the knowledge on how to rig safely more widely known. They showed me that the company has a real interest in improving the field overall. 

Do you remember the first item you were tasked with doing?

The first thing I can remember doing was going out to the Shirley Ryan Abilitylab to help provide support on an issue that had come up with the controller to their system.


"The culture at Chicago Flyhouse was great. As it was described to me by my teacher - 'Nobody there thinks they're too good to unload a truck.'"


What types of things did you get to do while at Flyhouse?

I got to work on a lot of different projects; even over the short time that I was there. I helped Project Managers in researching hardware, putting together drafting packets, and issuing purchase orders, to name a few. I worked in the Electric Shop helping to wire motor control boxes and then also working on a solo project to help with quality control for a new product. I also got to go out in the field to help with inspections, repairs, and new projects. 

There was a lot of traveling involved in different project sites – is there any experience that stands out? Any good story come from it?

I did go out to a lot of project sites, and they all had really unique challenges (which is one of my favorite parts of working in this field.) One site that I was on the longest was the Fertitta Center in Houston, Texas where we were installing acoustic baffling which was a totally new experience for me. The one that will really stick with me is the fact that even though space may be air-conditioned if you are working in a 125' boom lift well above all the HVAC vents, the heat rises quickly to the top of those arenas. 

[Katherine hard at work in the shop]

Talk about your favorite project with Flyhouse.

My favorite project with Flyhouse was getting to work with David (Project Manager) on the fire curtain for Highland Park High School. I learned so many things both about how this job works and about fire curtains themselves. It was a really cool project that took things that I knew how to do from my college experience and pushed them one step further to ensure that we were satisfying the theater consultants' plans as well as fire code.

What were some of the new things you learned you didn’t know before the internship?

I learned so many things over the summer! I got to use a ton of new tools and software. I got to see how many different people might approach similar jobs. I even learned how many spaces, like museums, arenas, and physical therapy labs, which aren't theaters, still utilize this same skill set, for very different results.

Was the culture of Flyhouse what you expected?

The culture at Chicago Flyhouse was great, as it was described to me by my teacher: "Nobody there thinks they're too good to unload a truck." The company has an awesome collaborative atmosphere which I knew a little bit about ahead of time but grew to really appreciate over the course of my time there.


"...even though a space may be air conditioned, if you are working in a 125' boom lift well above all the HVAC vents, the heat rises quickly to the top of those arenas."


You got to spend a full summer in Chicago. What are you going to remember most about the city?

Outside of my job I got to do quite a few cool things in Chicago. The Museum of Science and Industry was my favorite; I love a good museum and it's got a lot of very cool exhibits there right now. 

Compared to some of your friends in the same field, how do you think a Flyhouse internship is different?

A lot of my friends took jobs at summer stocks, which give you a lot of experience in the specific department that you are a part of. I feel like a got a really diverse experience. Also, I got to use technical theater skills in a lot of non-theater settings, whereas that isn't the case with many other peers.


Topics: Q+A

[Q + A] In Sight Sign Company

Posted by Flyhouse on Apr 19, 2017 4:38:10 PM

In Sight Sign Company Banner

In Sight Sign Company has been part of the sign and vehicle wrapping industry for years. It's no surprise our businesses have crossed paths and a solid working relationship was formed on the basis of one local business helping the other. We had the opportunity to talk with company owner Chris Zwirn about the sign industry.

Why did you choose Chicago as a home for the company?
Chris: I was born and raised in Chicago. I love this city and would not leave it…short of moving to a small tropical island.

Part of the relationship you have with Flyhouse is an old-school business mentality of bartering services, explain why this works.
Chris: I always try to help others out where we can. Whether it’s discounts for smaller startups or lending a hand here and there, it seems to come back full circle. I’m not sure I would call it bartering rather than helping a friend where we can.


"...or lending a hand here and there, it seems to come back full circle."


Being in the business you are in, it’s easily understood you have received some interesting requests. Is there any that stand out?
Chris: We have wrapped everything from toilet seats to shuttle buses. We wrapped the beer silo for Cobra Lounge and Flyhouse helped tremendously by providing a lift for us to use. It allowed my guys to go up 30-40 ft. It was a fun one that went off flawlessly considering the difficulty level of the install.

What has changed for a sign company likes yours over the last decade?
Chris: I started with a 24” vinyl cutter. Now we have two 64” latex printers, a 64” eco-solvent printer/cutter, and a 104” wide format banner printer. The sign business went from sign painter to vinyl cutter, and now we are at the wide format printing stage. Oddly enough, sign painting is having a nice resurgence for the few guys that stuck it out and survived the technology revolution.

What is the best success story from a business that used your services? 
Chris: Hands down, New City Moving. Brian [owner] originally came to us with three trucks to wrap. As of last week, we wrapped truck number 65 for him; not counting his vans, pickups, and smart cars. He’s about to have a grand opening for a new hub and is opening a warehouse for storage in Northbrook. He’s always had high praises for the wraps because he tracks where his leads come from and overwhelming it comes from people seeing their trucks on the street.

You post almost daily on Instagram. What type of posts do you find get the most attention?
Chris: Wrapped Corvettes and my cats.

In Sight Sign Company Building

Chris Zwirn (Owner) - In Sight Sign Company 
In Sight Sign Company specializes in creative, high-quality and affordable business signage solutions for customers of all types and in all industries. We dedicate ourselves to a responsive customer-first approach in all of our services, and guarantee that we will exceed your expectations every single time with the signs that we produce for you. In Sight Sign Company is your source for vinyl signs, banners and car wraps in Chicago.

Topics: Q+A, Project Recaps

[Q + A] The House Theatre of Chicago

Posted by Flyhouse on Feb 23, 2017 7:55:00 AM

House Theatre Chicago Flyhouse Banner

The House Theatre of Chicago and Chicago Flyhouse have worked together for more than a decade with Flyhouse being the performer flying vendor of choice. For an upcoming performance of The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz, the cast has been learning to fly in the Flyhouse rehearsal space. We had the opportunity to talk with The House's Artistic Director, Nathan Allen, to learn more about the company's past and standing out in the Chicago theater scene.

Where did the idea of The House come from and what was the process of getting it off the ground like?
Most of us met at Southern Methodist University and decided we wanted to start our own thing after graduation. A few of us had also studied at The British American Drama Academy in London. For me, the collision of a traditional American actor’s training with a much more audience focused European classical and physical training inspired questions about form and purpose. We started thinking about what we wanted to make, but more importantly who we wanted to serve. When we arrived in Chicago, we were met with this overwhelming support. People were excited by us and as a bunch of hard-working kids from hard-working families, we were able to harness that excitement into a relatively sustainable institution. We have our ups and downs like any group but we’ve survived on a sense that anything is possible in our theatre and community. It’s a lot to convince someone when you’re dealing with such ancient vocabularies but we’ve taken that challenge seriously - so much so that we started to resist the mundane. It became a challenge to continue staging the unstageable, to put our audience at the center of an imagined epic experience. That artistic chip on our shoulder fueled an ambition to grow, and we’re lucky that for some of our audience it’s made us fun to support. Seventeen years in and still doing it seems as impossible as anything, but here we are.


"It became a challenge to continue staging the unstageable..."


The cast for your upcoming show is doing performer flying training at Flyhouse’s rehearsal space throughout February, why is the partnership the two groups have formed important?
Nathan: There are only a few theatre companies in Chicago working regularly in such physical spectacle and stagecraft. Having a partner that can engineer fly systems, educate designers, directors, and performers in their use, and advise throughout a safe rehearsal process makes all the difference in our ability to experiment with and eventually stage these effects.

What has changed in theatre since your company was formed?
Nathan: That's a great question. In a real way, the theatre hasn't changed in thousands of years, but that's probably dodging the question. Still- I like to think that as we see modern media technologies become more and more isolating (especially those technologies that claim to be "social"), we see a reckoning with those purer and ancient purposes of our art form. Even in the frame of the last 17 years, I think we've seen more artists and producers aiming their work at the theatre's social functions, becoming more inclusive, and building spaces tuned for community building.

Is risk taking an essential part of a theatre company?
Nathan: In many ways, it’s a difficult business to begin with. But the way we've found to thrive in it is by trying to stand out- do something different. To try new things and embrace the risk of failing as a part of what makes the work exciting. Learning requires risk. The hardest trick is building a community of support that will take those risks with you.

"To try new things and embrace the risk of failing..."


What sets The House apart from others in the region?
Nathan: Our people. Our culture, led by our incredible Company Members, and nurtured by our Staff and Board, is as kind and courageous and encouraging and entrepreneurial as any arts and culture institution could be. Culture is everything, especially in a not-for-profit, and our people curate that culture. I think that it shows in our work.

Artistic Director Nathan Allen

Nathan Allen (Artistic Director) - The House Theatre of Chicago 
Nathan founded The House Theatre of Chicago with friends in 2001 and continues to lead the company as Artistic Director. In his role, he is responsible for the development and programming of all projects. Writing and directing credits include Death and Harry Houdini, The Sparrow, Rose and the Rime, The Last Defender and The Hammer Trinity (The Iron Stag King, The Crownless King, and The Excelsior King.) He also wrote and starred in The Valentine Trilogy (San Valentino and The Melancholy Kid, Curse of the Crying Heart, and Valentine Victorious) and directed The Magnificents by Dennis Watkins, with whom he created the weekly magic show, The Magic Parlour.

Nathan's work has been seen on the stages of The House, The Steppenwolf Merle Reskin Garage Theatre, The Arsht Center of Miami, The Stoneham Theatre in Boston, Strawdog Theatre, The Neo-Futurarium, Collaboraction, and The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Nathan has received acknowledgements from the Joseph Jefferson Awards, The Orgie Awards, and The American College Theatre Festival. He has been named an Associate Artist at The Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami and received the Emerging Leader Award from his alma mater, Southern Methodist University.

Topics: Performer Flying, Q+A, Project Recaps

[Q+A] Ed Leahy Featured by Mountain Productions

Posted by Flyhouse on Jul 22, 2016 10:30:00 AM

The team at Mountain Productions wrote a feature on Chicago Flyhouse's Head Trainer and Cruise Ship Division Manager, Ed Leahy. He will be the new rigging trainer at Mountain Production's 32nd CM Hoist School event.

Ed has been an integral part of Flyhouse's rigging inspection program Safer Venue. Each month, Ed coordinates or is part of three to four different rigging inspections at different venues to ensure their rigging systems are safe and all staff using the rigging equipment receive the proper training.

Throughout the feature, Ed talks about the Safer Venue program, what brought him into the rigging business, and what he sees as the future for those in the business. To read the full feature, check out Mountain Production's blog


Topics: News, Q+A