“Create intense moments, then take them away…and use lots and lots of bubbles!”
I first met Anna Kristina in the tea house loft of a witch creates absinthe beneath the full moon while she was dressed as the Queen of Hearts♥ – a guise quite befitting the Flaming Trucks, anti-gravity bars, and an entire kingdom of black-light Alice in Wonder.
Anna (a brilliant super connector in the Phoenix Burner community) brought together a cacophony of inspirational space curators, most notably Mo Connolly. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Walter Tribe (Walter Tribe is definitely a thing, however Walter Productions is the business side of things) is a group of mechanics and visionaries who create some of the most amazing art cars IN THE WORLD, including Heathen- a fire truck that shoots fire!
Every year, Walter Tribe throws a Halloween party. This year, part of the space is set to be destroyed to make way for a giant house (literally a giant house with giant door handles and really big chairs). Anna was given “the go” to do whatever she wanted to make the party as unbelievably magical as possible.
First and Foremost, constructing her team.
Malena Grosz was hired as event director for the evening. Anna’s mentor Kirk really wanted the core Walter group to step back and enjoy the event (a really good practice in planning events to their fullest). Next, Ryan and their production staff ensure that sound/lighting are good to go. Often, early event producers think that music and lights can be programmed with a few button switches, but so very often a simple cable can fail to a whole speaker blowing out, so the importance of a good team is impossible to stress.
Her favorite artist to regularly work with is Shannon Stapleton, a Phoenix local who cast spells and makes potions (if you need absinthe…). This is where I found Anna when we first met. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Shannon and it is unbelievably soothing to have someone just walk in, own a space and have you not worry about anything. Anna felt much the same way. While she normally is the first hand on deck, the space where she felt she could really chill out was the Tea House- which is good advice that a chill space is absolutely ESSENTIAL to a good party.
The following week, I saw her at a Yelp event- one of nearly 30 to 40 per year! She was attending one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventions (model of his war machine sketch, known as Da Vinci’s tank. The cars name is Mona Lisa.) next to the art car built by the Fucking Flamingos & was accompanied by her crew of technicians, including Sumerian God of the Hittites and the Canaanites, the Lord of Creation, Enki. He’s a fabricator in a garage nearby. There was free booze, gourmet cooking just outside an augmented reality experiment & a hugging booth. I wasn’t surprised to see her dressed normally when I met her for coffee in the default world.
My first question was about her history.
She was in the service industry before she met Walter, which falls very in line with her spirit of the caregiver. After going to Burning Man in 2010, she immediately wanted to give a gift back, get more involved & created a Hot Pink Happy Hour. Now 6 years later, this is one of the biggest events at the Burn!
“Everyone has their own strengths,” she says, “You already know the right people, you’ve already got what you need to give.”
I’ve noticed a trend that the power of the Rockstar DJ is coming to an end. Exorbitant prices ($200,000 for a Kaskade set) and a market saturation is forcing artists to become better musicians or experience curators. The age of the Rockstar Event Producer is rising. I asked her about it. To an extent, she agrees. If she only had $1,000 to spend on an event, she wouldn’t spend a dime on DJs.
“People talk about the experience and, in this industry, word of mouth is EVERYTHING.”
Anna’s repeated advice is to build your network.
If she didn’t have a dollar to her name, she can still throw an awesome event based on the talents of the friendships and opportunities she’s cultivated over the years, opportunities that come from going out and making friendships & volunteering in the community- solid advice for young artists and producers looking to get their start.
At a $100 budget, the investment goes into booze. The people make the party, so if nothing else, get cool people to stay.
At $1,000, it’s art. People, paintings, etc. She can and has thrown entire events (including the Walter Halloween Party) with an iPod. Obviously music is the spine of the event, but she has a very developed taste in music. She says she’s like a DJ but for the entire event.
At $10,000, she says she’ll pay a lot more artists and just now start to invest in bigger talent.
But at $100,000, the majority of the investment goes to sculptures and other equipment that can be used- hiring artists like Ashley Macias and Yai???
“I would say that hiring some big burning Man artists would be a dream. Marco Cochrane, Mike Garlington, Laura Kimpton and David Best are a few favorites.”
Booking DJs is difficult to maximize profit on- much safer to invest in props that can be reused and liquidized.
At a $10,000,000 budget, she suggests that perhaps she would invest in ArcoSanti- speaking of which, applications are open now to Form!!
She takes a lot of inspiration from Form. Burning Man is obviously near and dear to her heart, but Form’s use of the application process ensures that every interaction is amazing. In that vein, her favorite event tool (taught to her by Walter Productions technical director, Ryan Tucknott) is to create an amazing moment and then get rid of it after a few seconds. Blown up animals running through the crowd for a hot second or a layer of clouds to walk among that disappears after a single song.
Anna’s favorite experiences to re-use at events-
Shannon’s Velvet Tea House (think a very rich Arabic tent with a funny witch serving tea with all manners of magic trinkets and exotic smells)
Upside down furniture (anti-gravity room)
Intimate environments with mismatched decor; disco balls; & bubbles!
For newcomers to the scene, Anna suggests to meet everyone you possibly can. Blogging is a great way to connect with your inspirations. But going to parties, community events, building connections & getting to know everyone is a solid practice.
When major players come to Arizona, they often seek out Anna & Walter Productions because of her national reach, where she then reaches out to the local change makers who then reaches out to the captains of their networks.