It wouldn’t have been remotely funny if it ended in tragedy, but seeing a huge outdoor screen being blown over by the wind just hours before a public showing of the June 20th England-Sweden soccer match looks to have caused widespread mirth in the production industry.
Presumably much to the embarrassment of Screenco, which supplied the 20- by 30-foot LED screen for Birmingham City Council to use at the Millennium Square Fan Park, the BBC ran film of the incident on its regional news.
The pictures came courtesy of David Nelson, a freelancer who was shooting the event for the local authority, which severed his contract for future work immediately after realizing he leaked the footage to The Beeb.
Carmel Girling from Birmingham city’s press and media department told Pollstar the authority feels Nelson acted “with duplicity” because, as the council had contracted the job and was paying for it, it should also have ownership of the film.
Reportedly sacking Nelson on the spot and escorting him from the site, Kevin Brown, the city council’s head of events, then tried to play down the incident by saying the structure was designed in such a way that it could only fall over backward – in order to protect the LED cubes. That argument doesn’t appear to stand up any better than the screen did.
Apart from the fall’s direction likely depending on which way the “freak gust” of wind that blew it down came from, the consensus among production industry safety experts is that the idea is to design structures that don’t fall over at all.
The screen blew down before the crowds turned up for the match, and the site was evacuated as soon as the wobbling was noticed. Nobody was hurt.
The council managed to replace it with another, smaller screen. The fans who showed up later were still able to watch the 2-2 draw. It was, as Brown told BBC News, “business as usual.”
However, the serious side is that someone from the council needed to inspect drawings for the screen construction before it was passed as fit for purpose.
Girling said all checks, which she described as “very rigorous” at Birmingham City Council, were carried out.
She also said the authority isn’t prepared to make further comment until the HSE investigation is completed.
Brown put out a statement a day later that reiterated the point.
Although Screenco supplied the screen, the support structure was assembled on site by Trapeze, a Birmingham-based company that’s part of Outback Rigging.
It’s likely Screenco would also have wanted confirmation that its equipment was securely mounted.
Outback director Stuart Pearson, who is based in the company’s London office, declined to comment while the HSE investigation was still in progress.
What’s likely to be the last humorous comment on the matter, and certainly one of the most amusing, came from
– John Gammon