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Messages - Mac Calder

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"Hey x... Please take this as it is intended, but can you please try to avoid calling me on a Monday - unless you need something urgently sorted for Tuesday? I am a bit sensitive about my time off at the moment because life is a bit hectic. I am happy for you to contact performers directly if you need to deal with an issue regarding illnesses and absence and just send me a summary after the fact - that will probably make your life easier as well. Let me know if you need me to provide an updated contact list to you"

Be honest, and just express it. Without knowing your producer, they probably think they are doing the right thing keeping you in the loop.

Tools of the Trade / Re: Asset Tracking
« on: Jan 31, 2018, 01:25 am »
For consumables, you should not need a database. Excel is more than sufficient.

Generally how I have always run a consumables store is with a table set out with the following columns: Description, Order Qty, PAR, then a number of pairs of columns with dates for consumable counts (SOH 07/10/17 for example) and order quantities. You can then do a third and fourth column to auto-calculate a new total and usage in the period if you want to do some analytics

Process goes like this: Write down all of your consumables and the order quantity ("box (24)" if it comes in a box of 24, "ea" if they are individual, "roll (300')" for things like sash) then establish a PAR level. How often do you want to count and re-order - the more often you count, the less stock you need to keep on hand. Monthly tends to work for many places. Work out your average usage a month - then multiply by 2. That would be your PAR level. Each month, count your consumables. Order up to your par level using your order quantity (handily in the second column of your sheet). Basically it always gives you a months consumables in reserve to account for seasonability. Using the data you gather you can also adjust your PAR levels and fine tune things.

There is also option B  which I call the hoarding method. Order a quantity of every item, and place it somewhere where only a limited number of people have access. Any time you take an item out of that place, order another.

And finally there is option C - I know in Australia there is a company that modified food vending machines to dispense consumables - it dials 'home' and this company then comes and tops you up once the level gets low... you could always try something like that if money is no object.

It largely depends on the company -

If I am working for a company where I know everyone will be using Outlook with corporate email, I will generally put reports straight into the email, because I know the formatting will hold up. It means that people can then search etc. It is just convenient.

If I am working for a company where everyone is a contractor, I send the report as a PDF and any key action points in the body.

This is not just rehearsal reports, this is any reporting - even when I had to do profitability or P&L reporting - I give the summary in the body so that those that don't really care about the nitty gritty can go "Okay, cool, we are $1.50 above budget!" or "Oh... we are a bit behind, maybe I will stop stealing boxes of gaffa tape and taking them home this month"

Tools of the Trade / Re: Improvised com system?
« on: Oct 18, 2017, 04:48 pm »
I would certainly not recommend unity to a community theatre (there are some execptions, not many though) - the cost of unity is on par with wired comms - it needs a good wifi infrastructure and someone to administer it. I provided it's link mainly to show that yes, it can be done... but just because it is using commodity hardware there is still a degree of expense there.

That said, it is another tool that some people may have use for.

Tools of the Trade / Re: Improvised com system?
« on: Oct 18, 2017, 03:09 am »
I would be surprised if there are any reliable phone apps- for one, you're going to have cues that are late if someone's service is bad. You can also use cheap walkie talkies, but they are really not well suited for this.

There is actually a really good phone based coms system - Unity. It is IP based - and you can either cloud host or run the server on an apple computer) so you can use wifi and they sell a range of accessories (like propper headsets and a little bluetooth push-to-talk button). We've used the cloud version for multi-site realtime co-ordination and it is really reliable.

Which will give you the better education? Don't just go to Philly because it is out of town. Once you are working you can do that any time. If you do believe Philly will give you the better opportunities and experience, then you need to weigh that cost up against the value of those opportunities.

It could be fear that is giving you doubts - I am assuming that by going to a state school you will still have your existing support network (parenty and friends) available to you - and that won't exist if you go interstatte. I don't know the US college system well (apart from the hollywood version) however it appears that many are sort of geared towards establishing independant support networks for their students - so maybe look into that to reassure yourself - what support would be available if you moved to Philly.

There is no right or wrong answer really. If you are going to be really uncomfortable without your support network at home and excessively financially burdened - go to a state school. If you can afford to go to Philly, and it is all you have ever wanted, it will give you the opportunities you desire, then go to Philly. Long term you can get wherever you want to be through hard work. Without a crystal ball, no one can say what would work out right for you, but somewhere inside you know what you want to do. Just don't trust the surface fears and excitement, it will take some time to mull.

Tools of the Trade / Re: Improvised com system?
« on: Mar 03, 2017, 11:19 pm »
Almost any sound hire company (or av company) should be able to hire you comms - and they are generally not too expensive. If you need wireless comms, that is a bit more expensive but also generally hireable.

If 2 way communication is required then there really is no substitute.

Employment / Re: Listing Multiple Seasons on a Resume
« on: Feb 26, 2017, 10:12 pm »
Company Name - City
YearStart-YearEnd - Company Stage Manager, Summer Season

I have always been against the "big long list of shows" resume, preferring instead to tailor the resume to the job with a few highlights that apply to the position I am applying for.

Before my current role I used to have 30-100 resumes cross my desk a month (or rather in my inbox). Now I don't like to judge a book by its cover, however I would decide whether to read a resume based almost entirely over what it looked like when it opened in Acrobat Reader zoomed to show the full page. Not too long (know what I am interested in and give me that detail, unless there is a horse in the show, I don't care that you were a horse trainer for 6 months prior to college), not too cluttered, well formatted, no redundant headings (a sure sign of padding).

When I saw a big chunk of artistic credits I would read the first 2. If they didn't interest me I might not even continue on - or I might jump to the bottom to read the last one or two and then go straight to the next section - I am sure you can see the problem with listing chronologically here - I saw all the early stuff - hardly most peoples greatest works.

The few I really liked had "Career Highlights" and then attached a full history as a separate document. I never opened the full history - but during interviews I frequently asked them why the shows listed were career highlights; what made them pick those 3 or 4 shows - it helped me (as an interviewer) engage with the applicant. They were not necessarily the biggest shows they had worked on all the time, but rather ones that they felt passionate about. Essentially they took the opportunity to take control of the interview and get me to ask them questions about shows they could be positive about. As an interviewer, I was fine with that.

It provided talking points that helped me identify whether the things that this person picked as a highlight of their career would be present in the position I was potentially going to offer. It also helped me to target what they didn't say - you liked the team, well have you ever worked on a show with a team you didn't like - how did you handle it. The show was really complex and technical and it kept you engaged for the entire 6 month run? Well have you worked on many shows without a strong technical element that was an extended run? How did you fight the tedium to stay engaged? You really enjoy the classics (Sondheim, G&S, ALW, Willie Shakespere)? Well how up to date are you with new Australian works?

I guess the tldr; Employment history does not have to be a giant list of shows and positions. Something like being employed for full seasons should absolutely be represented somewhere but reconsider the long list of shows - or whether it is necessary to be included in the main body of your resume - in fact a regular recurring gig like summer season CSM could be just a highlight of your career (enjoy developing a relationship with a company, integrating with their culture etc etc etc).

With needle or without?

Most syringes can attach to plastic tube (IV line) - so depending on costume, could could secrete an IV bag with a short bit of tubing running to the ear - provided the actor can use two hands (one to hid the action whilst assisting with the connection). That is one option.

With a needle - I would suggest palming a milk creamer - contents replaced with your blood substitute and re-sealed with tape. Actor 'restrains' the head with one hand (with the creamer palmed), plunges the syringe into the top of the creamer and holds on to the base of the syringe with the hand with the creamer then draws the plunger. Just make sure the needle is not longer than the creamer (cut it down if need be)

I have always found magicians/magic shops to be a great place for solutions requiring some trickery - there is probably an off the shelf syringe that can do something similar to this trick too.

Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Hanging an actor....
« on: Jun 06, 2016, 05:24 am »
If the actor MUST be visible and hanging himself... engage professionals. zfx, foys or similar.

If you have a director open to something a bit sillier... perhaps you can fake it - like a projected silhouette where the rope is cut and the actor falls out from bellow where the silhouette dropped. It is theatre, suspension of disbelief is part of that.

A stunt master once told me - you never put a rope around someones neck unless you plan to hang them - for realsies.


Tools of the Trade / Re: Stage Management Software
« on: Mar 09, 2016, 09:15 am »
The biggest issue I have with a lot of these solutions coming out now is they are "cloud based" or require connection to an external server under a SaaS model (Software as a Service).

Problem with that is you are completely reliant on the service provider existing into the future. The software is probably hosted on Amazon AWS or Google Compute - so I am not worried about poor service - Amazon AWS or Google Compute scales really nicely, they log in, click a button and can double the memory or processing available. I am worried that the developer will get bored, or the business model is messed up and mid run, bang, service down. I am all for using cloud providers for infrastructure, but to be reliant on (generally) small operations keeping their software up gives me the jeebies.

I really wish these companies would move more towards providing either self-deployable images for AWS or Compute, or would deploy individual instances and direct-bill the AWS instance to you - at least that way if they go down, you still have full access to the AWS instance and can keep it up until you are done with it.

I guess my 2c for those out there - ask the question before you commit to a subscription based cloud service - what happens if they go belly up?

Basically because there was concurrent development going on - as well as vendors attempting to lock out competitors - Most 2 wire systems (those cabled up with 3 pin XLR) will tend to have a male socket on the beltpack and require a female connector on the headset. In broadcast, where they use matrix intercom systems, many of them used to use a female on the panel and need a male connector on the headset - now most are either female on the panel or you have the option to pick your connector.

Locations of: dressing rooms, green room, water, restrooms, laundry, callboard, valuables lockup, calling station, SM office (if available)
Any codes needed for the building (copier, door codes, etc)
Wifi info
How to communicate with HM (walkies, headset, phone) and  FOH procedures (house open, late seating, etc)
How to use backstage comms/PA/god mic/q lights
Who to ask if stage temp needs to be adjusted

I don't know about the US, but in Aus, 99% of venues will have a duty technician on who will answer all these questions and probably a number of questions you have not thought of when they meet you - and they should induct you into the space (including a walk around). What sort of runs are you doing in the venues? Single day, short (<1 wk) runs or longer runs?

What you get is normally dependent on what your company has booked ahead of time and how long you are in for.

Over here, a DT is basically a safety requirement, so access is only when the DT or a Head of Department is on site. So access times will need to be arranged in advance (wardrobe & office access may be an exception - although more and more whilst I was operations manager for a venue we were denying office access outside of business hours under the expectation that the SM can work from their accommodation). The venues I have worked at - if you need a couple of photocopies, we were more than happy to do them. If you needed lots of printing and copying, it was very much a case of hire in your own.

FOH proceedures is generally largely laid out by the production (you), not the house - especially with regards to late seating.

Names of venue crew
Comp ticket procedures (this might be determined ahead of time, not sure)

I would be expecting names of _operating_ crew for season runs to be provided well in advance - if you are in for multiple shows, insist on the same crew for the run duration. If you are in for more than a couple of weeks, you will want dedicated swing staff too. General setup crew you just pick up as you work with them - get to know the local heads of department and let them do their jobs of managing their teams under the guidance of your heads of department.

Comps should be established well in advance - as seat holds generally need to be made to allow for them. Oft times, the box office manager just hands you a box of tickets and leaves it up to you to go about your business. If you are after comps that are not pre-arranged then you probably don't want to start your relationship with the venue asking them for favors.

With the asking not telling - I find that if you reprimand with something along the lines of "I was not actually asking, I was being polite. Kill the workers please." people will very quickly learn that you are polite, but do not mistake politeness for weakness.

I always use please and thank you - I would have told the production manager who made that comment, Matthew, just because we are paying them does not mean we don't have to be polite and thankful for tasks being done promptly and well.

Tools of the Trade / Re: Act Like A Hazer?
« on: May 21, 2015, 02:56 am »
You will never get a "theatrically" acceptable haze out of a fog machine. Typically, a fog machine set on it's lowest pump setting with a fan running full-bore about a foot in front of the fog machine will give you SOMETHING that picks up the beams, but it tends to not be a nice even haze. For added dispersion, point it off stage with the fan blowing on stage. You can fine tune it by checking to see whether you can get a lighter fluid, but not one that is fast dispersing, that may help... I would suggest looking towards hiring in a hazer as required.

You also really want to chill the venue pre-show, then fog/haze the bejeezus out of the venue with the HVAC off and then top up as required. Air movement will kill your effect very quickly due to the high molecular weight of fog fluid.

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