I got an email about a month ago from a girl in Canada, asking me what is the best way break into this great industry of ours. (Innocent question, not that simple to answer!) She told me that she had a BA in Multi-media and a diploma in audio and shed sent out a swag of resumes and was finding it hard to get a start.
Welcome to production!
First up, lets have a wee look at how the industry works. Lighting, Sound, Video and Theatre companies usually have very few permanent crew. When they need to get in extra crew or fill a position the employer will first call their core crew of casual freelancers. These are people who get the first calls. Those that the employer has used many times before, who they know and trust. If none of them can do the gig, chances are that they will then go to the next level down to their occasional casual. When these possibilities are exhausted, they will ask any of their roster to recommend someone. The last - and most desperate stage - is going to look through the mountain of resumes they have been sent. So just sending in your flashy resume and sitting back waiting for the flood of replies aint gonna happen. (Dont exaggerate on your resume, its a close knit industry, you will get caught out!!)
In the initial stage of trying to score a gig, the two things you need most have nothing to do with your training or knowledge of gear as theres a million wannabe roadies out there! Qualifications and training will help you get a toe in the door, but after that its up to you to push the door all the way open. Let your motivation shine through. The most important things to show to any crew, boss, manager etc, is your persistence and keenness.
The entertainment industry in all its many guises has one thing in common, it is not like a normal job. Once you get a trial gig, a good attitude becomes a b-i-g plus. It's very easy to stand out above the rest by vibing motivation and enthusiasm, with a thirst for knowledge. (Phew deep, the new-skool of philosopher-engineer/roadie!!) Show the companies youre a 'long-termer'.
To have any hope of cracking it, knowing the right person to ask for is the key. You need to get in the employers face persistence pays! I got my first touring gig by research and persistence. I was fresh out of one of the audio schools and hungry for a gig, lugging gear around the traps. I found out that this band Id done a bit of work for were looking to get in extra crew as a stage roadie. From there I found out the name of their manager and rang him to introduce myself. After that, I rang him every Monday morning, week in week out, when am I starting, when am I starting blah, blah, blah?!? In the end perhaps to shut me up he gave me a trial week with the crew!! (Thats when my audio education r-e-a-l-l-y started!!)
If going on tour and youre joining an established crew, dont be surprised if the manager gives you the job on a temporary basis, with the crew themselves making the final decision. As a touring crew you have to get on with different people! Youll be working, travelling sharing accom and spending your rare days-off with the crew. No matter how good your skills or ear, if you dont gel with the crew, the gigs not going to happen. Their decision is final!
When you get to know the rest of the crew and feel comfortable enough to ask the what, where and why questions about the PA that are burning you up inside, pick your time! Dont ask them in the middle of soundcheck, when theres feedback bouncing all around the room and the soundie has broken into a cold sweat trying to tune the PA!!! Its asking for trouble. Wait until sanity returns. If it doesnt return that night, ask them some other time!
On smaller production and tours there can be none of the not my gig rivalry between sound, lights and stage hands. On these runs the crew is a team, with no one resting until the back doors of the truck are closed. New employees feeling that load-ins and load-outs are beyond them just wont cut it with the crew boss.
Finally, all band/cast, crew, stage hands etc are working together towards
the one goal, described by the classic line
the show must go
on!! Crewing is as much as a lifestyle/love as it is a job and theres
definitely no time for clock-watchers.. (Except at 4:00am when its
raining during the load out! LOL)
In the meantime, if you've got any audio questions give me a yell, send
me an email or post a message on roadtalkz. I'm not the font of all knowledge,
but if I don't know the answer to your questions, I know enough guru's