Ruud de Deugd is an internationally-renowned expert in the entertainment industry, with more than 15 years of experience specialising in rigging and structures for events. Ruud recently teamed up with DWR Distribution to host a six-day rigging training course, which was held at DWR’s Johannesburg offices from 10 to 15 February.

Ruud shared a little of his professional background, passions and interests with us in the following interview.

When did you first become interested in the entertainment industry?

My real first experience with the entertainment industry was in 2002. I had already done some amateur audio engineering while at high school, but at the start of 2002, I dropped out of school and decided to start working.

As a young and reckless teenager, I went to Ahoy Rotterdam (big indoor event location) during the load-in of a big event (GrolschLive38). I asked if I could help the audio company for free to gain experience. And that is where it all started. That event blew my mind away: the energy, the synergy between different disciplines and most of all the emotion that was created during the show.

What was your first work experience in the industry?

After the experience at GrolschLive38, I went to the Studio Audio Engineering College in Rotterdam NL and started working as an all-round AV technician for a wide range of events. I worked mainly as an audio engineer, but also worked as a lampy and did some rigging jobs. However, after some years fulltime in the event industry, I decided to go back to school and started my studies in mechanical engineering and worked part-time in the entertainment business, and eventually earned my degree in mechanical engineering. I then started working as an engineer at the truss manufacturer Prolyte.

After a couple of years working for Prolyte, I started my own company T&E Support. An independent engineering office for the event industry, specialised in rigging and structures. T&E Support is well-known for its unique combination of theoretical and practical knowledge.

What are some of the highlights of your career thus far?

Actually, every project can be seen as a highlight, with its own vibe. The biggest highlight is just to get involved in creating emotions with people worldwide and to help to make that show happen safely. From being a sound engineer at a very small wedding to being a supervising engineer/rigger for a show of 300.000 people – every single gig is special in its own way.

What are some of the professional challenges that you have had to overcome?

From technical challenges and commercial challenges to cultural and language barriers, challenges are always there. But in the end, there is always one goal: creating a safe, amazing show or a mind-blowing experience. And please understand that the equipment used can be the highest- level and most expensive tech – but in the end, it is about a group of people, everyone with their own competence in different fields, that will determine the success or failure of a show.

What advice would you give young people and other professionals that are interested in the field?

Start with the basics, experience the business from ground level and grow from there by gaining competence in the discipline that gives you goosebumps! But be aware, once this industry gets you, it becomes a lifestyle.

What are you looking forward to during your time in South Africa?

In previous training courses that I have done in SA, I experienced the interest of people and the vibe for sucking up knowledge, from newbies in the business to people with years of experience. The slogan of DWR – “it is all about people” – is not simply words. DWR creates that vibe and experience, no matter who you are, and I’m pleased to be part of that.

What are some of your interests/hobbies outside of work?

I always tell people that my biggest interest/hobby is my family. Just being home, in a quiet place, enjoying the kids playing brings you down to earth again. And second comes work, although my family probably thinks differently at times.