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Messages - MatthewShiner

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I don't to assist a lot, but I do work with some difficult directors, and I always get questions like . . . "how was it t work with . . . " and I know there is a little bit of baiting.  For those who don't know me in real life, I am VERY opinionated, but even for the most "difficult" director, I am able to do the art of the spin - and that is part of management. 

If you have strong opinion about this working relationship . . . and don't feel comfortable asking about it . . . drop the show from your resume.    If they still know or ask,the be prepared with the most politic answer you can.

Some times it's not about WHAT you say, but how you say it - and a PM/GM/SM is interest to see how you answer a difficult question - that's why we ask questions like "tell me about your weaknesses", "tell me about you situation where you felt you could have done better", "what was your worst stage management experience" - yes, what you chose to answer is interesting . . . but HOW you answer is more interesting.

In your case, you can focus how two people with different styles worked together - where were the success - what did you learn from the failures . . . not every production is all sunshine and lollipops . . .

The Green Room / Re: Odd legal stuff you've learned
« on: Feb 27, 2015, 11:38 am »
Learned a lot about HR stuff - hiring (like avoid writing on resumes you notes from the interview), firing, pay, giving references, harassment.

OSHA rules . . . and how they change from state to state, city to city, venue to venue . . . and how people say OSHA says . . . when it's really in house policies.

Lots of about drinking, drugs . . . work environment.

Employment / Re: Why didn't I get the job?
« on: Feb 24, 2015, 02:14 pm »
It's not that I wouldn't hire someone without experience . . . but if it is between two candidates, I might side with the one who has experience on the contract.  These are reasons I wouldn't for sure not hire one, but could be part of the thought process why one good stage manager is passed over for another stage manager.  If a PM, GM or PSM (whomever is doing the hiring) is smart, they are going to put together the strongest team they can get for their money. 

I recently did an OFF Broadway show, where the ASM had never been on AEA contract before, let alone an off-Broadway contract.

My current show is currently being producing on a COST contract, so I made sure one of my team members had experience on the COST contract to flag with something.

Even if you just PA'ed or intern on the contract, hopefully you were paying attention, and picked up some of the experience.

Most of my big break thrus have been based on someone knowing me and my work - and going - "you know, he hasn't done a commercial show before, but he has the all the skills, and I believe in him" or "you know, he has never done a big musical before, but he has done some really big straight shows, and I really like working with him".

LisaS, it's  a rough business - and getting past those walls and moving to bigger ponds are part of the career - and part of the career that is a big challenge.

And remember, this wall against you is something you will hit long after you drop the term "YOUNGER" - I have lost out out on some commercial projects because I have had zero Broadway experience . . .

Employment / Re: Why didn't I get the job?
« on: Feb 23, 2015, 10:03 pm »
It depends on the job and position . . . would I hire someone with only education experience - not on any show I am currently attached to . . . but someone who is just in school would not be a good fit for either project . . .

But, for an internship or a PA with a smaller (regional) theater might be just the right first step for you.

The Green Room / Re: Broadway SM Symposium
« on: Feb 23, 2015, 08:07 pm »
Lifted from facebook . . . just a reminder . . .

There are still a few more days left to get the early bird discount for the Broadway Stage Management Symposium.
This is going to be an inspiring and very instructive weekend of insights from Broadway's top professionals, including: Peter Lawrence (Tony Honoree and author), Lisa Dawn Cave (Rocky, Fun Home), Frank Lombari (Tarzan), Arturo Porazzi (Memphis) and many, many more.
Don't miss out on making these important connections.
Register today.

Employment / Re: How to give a recommendation?
« on: Feb 23, 2015, 04:33 pm »
There is legal requirements if you are on staff of a theater about recommendations.

Talk to you HR person.

But basically, if I do not recommend someone, I would never say "OH MY GOD, DON'T HIRE THIS PERSON."

My recommendation would be all factual.

This person worked on this show, these dates.  They were terminated at the end of the show, and not re-hired since.

Someone would get the idea.

If the person was an INTERN under me, and someone asks for a recommendation, I will ask them to explain the job to me, and then I will say where they had successes with me and my team in areas that line up.

Remember, that if you saying something that could harm them, then you might get in trouble.

I also recommend giving recommendations either in person or on phone and not emailing.

Employment / Why didn't I get the job?
« on: Feb 22, 2015, 08:34 am »
I have interviewed 80 stage managers in the past eight months, and recently had a couple of “hey, can you help me hire an sub/asm/replacement” situations arise. 

I’ve gotten a couple of emails after the fact, asking, basically, “why didn't I get the job?”.

Here’s a couple of the major reasons why a candidate may not get the gig.
1)   Experience – when a stage manager is being hired, their experience is being rented . . . I am trying to get as much experience for my buck as possible.

2)   Wrong kind of experience – even the best stage manager may not have the experience I am looking for – no musicals, no big teams, no classical theater – all have had me put a resume aside for someone else.

3)   Bad Interview – just as I can rant that many GMs/Production Managers don’t know how to interview FOR a SM position, there are some SM’s who don’t know how to be interviewed.

4)   Wrong Personality – I joke all the time that a monkey with a lap top could sometimes do our job, but it has the right personality.  If I am looking to fill a position, I need someone who I can spend 80 hours a week with, and a lot of those hours I am going to be stressed, tired, frustrated . . .

5)   Wrong for the Team – I am looking to put together a team, and I tend to look at who is already in the team, the skill sets / personality of the team already in place – I am looking to complement those skills.  I don’t want a team of all people exactly like me . . . first off, that would be horrifying . . . second off, I have my skill set, I need people with other strengths or weaknesses.

6)   Over Qualified – as I wrote before – I have had some VERY bad experiences with taking a risk on an over qualified candidate.  I avoid it all costs.

7)   Union Experience – I tend to want to make sure when I am hiring someone they have had a couple of shows on that union contract.
8)   Degrees of Separation – I have had tremendous luck and positive experience when being handing a team, or working with new people – but I will always tend to move towards candidates either I know, or someone I know recommends.   It’s about knowing people work well with my style – but it also about just knowing that person is good person.  (There are some not so nice stage managers out there)

9)   Wrong Reason for Wanting the Job – sometimes a candidate will give me a reason for wanting the job that sends out warning signals to me . . . if a stage manager seems desperate to work on the show, I get very worried – or if they seem like FANATIC in anyway (I REALLY WANT TO WORK WITH THIS ACTOR, THIS DIRECTOR, THIS COMPANY) I get nervous.

10)   Recommendations – if there is any hesitation a recommendation gives me on a candidate . . .I will usually move on.

11)   Wrong Person – sometimes I know I want a team that has diversity – I want to make sure I have a diverse team.  I lost a job early in my career because of my gender . . . I mean it was a long shot, but the PSM didn’t want to end up with an all-male SM team, if the female first had said yes, I would have gotten the second position – sadly, a male first was hired.

12)   Lies on Resume – that one speaks for yourself.

13)   Missing critical skills – two PA resumes in front of me, one knows Final Draft, one does not – the projects is a new play by a playwright who is using Final Draft – I am going to lean towards the PA who has proven experience in Final Draft.

14)   Social Media Savvy – if I am on a fence about a candidate – I do check out social media – if that candidate has bad mouthed other SM’s, complained about their shows, and showed poor judgment in the past . . . hard to hire them.

15)    Where you live – two choices of equal talent – one is local, one requires housing – why not hire local?

16)   Bad Resume – if your resume is too far of the professional acceptable format, I wonder how off you are in other paperwork

Basically, I think, there is a myth that any SM can SM anything . . . and that’s not really the case – SM is a very tricky job, and when you are under the pressure of finding the right person for the right job, there are many red flags that might be the signal for you to pass on applicant.

I have done this for both LA shows, and showcases / events.

Very common for dance.

Employment / Re: Fortitude
« on: Feb 14, 2015, 12:35 pm »
I have given Heath more detailed advice on his situation last night, but some generic advice.

I strongly think that relocating to a bigger theaterical center for family reasons (so not every job needs to be on the road), and also allow him to branch out to freelancing.  Since regional theaters do try to hire local (for a wide variety of reasons), the jobs with housing and few and far between.

It takes time to get the word out and rekindle connections when you leave a long term position to let people know you are out and looking for freelance work.  I feel, now about 5 years since I left behind 12 years of being associated with one theater or another, it's really out there I am freelancing, and always looking for the work - and can be made available for work.  I feel like it took about two years to get the hang of booking work as a freelance . . . and now, I feel like the jobs are landing.

But the biggest advice I can give is based on my personal experience is that you can re-invent yourself - you can build a successful freelance career after being in a resident position - you can change from classical theatre to musical - from regional non-profit to commercial - it just takes time and effort - and someone willing to take a small gamble on your success moving from you past of proven success.

Now, remember, there may come a time with all the fortitude in the world, and patience - and you aren't going anywhere - maybe at the time you should listen to the market - if you can't make a living being a stage manager, and you have changed everything you are comfortable to change . . . maybe it's time time to think about shifting your career . . . not everyone can do this for a living.

Just some quick thoughts.

Employment / Re: Overqualified?
« on: Feb 13, 2015, 09:06 am »
In my experience, yes . . . there are times when a candidate's experience does not well align up to the position being offered and the responsibilities of said job, and positions they held in the past have greater responsibility, the quality of past productions maybe of higher caliber, or the size and scope of the production maybe smaller then what they are used to in the past.

I think many people think a good stage manager can stage manage anything, but the reality is each project, each position – has a certain skillset that the position requires.  If a person who is higher seriously lacks that skillset, they run the risk of not succeeding.  But, what are the risks of hiring someone who is “over qualified”.

In my experience, these are the issues that can arise when a candidate is “over-qualified”.

1)   They can get bored.  A bored employee often complains, slacks off, does less than an ideal job.  For example, in my years running a department with intern positions, I learned to strongly avoid offering an internship to someone who already had completed an internship. 
2)   They can have an attitude.  If they are over qualified and they know it, they might bring a lot of “well, when I worked on Broadway”.  And even if it’s not a deliberate attitude, this can creep in throughout their process.
3)   They may have forgotten the skillsets needed to work at this level.  For example, I tend to work on big shows, with big stage management teams – recently I filled a gap in my calendar with a festival and a reading – I had to run my own light board, projections, sound  . . . do pre-set and strike.  I had to flex some muscles I hadn’t had used in years.  On the reading, I was getting coffee, lunch orders, etc . . . anything to keep it going.
4)   They are doing the show for the wrong reasons.  On my current project, there are rumors of potential future life, where I had many over qualified candidates trying to get on the team, even if it meant slipping in as a PA.  This happens all the time on Broadway – over qualified SMs become PA’s hoping to get moved up, gain a coveted sub position or future replacement.  If those future life possibilities aren’t there, or future positions aren’t possible . . . this person may quickly look for something else.
5)   Over qualified stage managers seeking work will often jump ship for a job that more aligns with the experience.  Sometimes this is a status thing, but often a SM who is “over qualified”, and taking a position that is “a step down”, are often doing so with a pay cut.  If a better paying gig comes along, they will quickly jump ship – and many contracts offer that exit plan.
6)   For a wide variety of the above reasons, over qualified candidates can be poison to a team . . . I have seen SM’s take a break and be a “ASM”, but did so to get on a show or project with hopes of getting the PSM to move out, so they could step up.  Not all Stage Managers are good guys.  And the business can be very cut throat.
7)   Ultimately, if a candidate is “over qualified” they by definition they may not be a great fit for the project.  In my history, if 100% is what I am looking for – I have a candidate who is at 90% or at 110%, I may lean towards the 90% candidate – they may hustle and work a bit harder.
Okay, but there are reasons and times to look at candidate who might be overly qualified, but I think it’s one of those things whyou feel out during the interview process.
1)   Are they taking this position for the RIGHT reasons?

1)   This job fills a short, but specific time period between two gigs.  If a candidate is doing show #1 and show #3 at theater, taking a step down just to fill the time period makes sense – especially if it the stop-gap job fits nicely between projects . . . and there is little chance they would jump for another project.
2)   They have very clear goals for taking a job that maybe over qualified – they are starting to work in musicals, classical theater, opera, dance . . . and they want a safe environment to work in that new medium.  They maybe switching from the non-profit world to commercial world.  They may have relocated.  These are all smart reasons for someone to take a position they may be over qualified for.  But, they have to have the right attitude to handle this – get to know the candidate.
3)   This often comes up – they need the health care weeks before a certain time period.
I am not saying these reasons cancel out my concerns from above, you still have to make sure the have the right personality for the job.

2)   Maybe there only candidates you can get are over qualified?
3)   Maybe the project has a very simple skill set required (like a reading), but the personalities involved maybe difficult.
4)   Maybe the person is really right for the project – and clear

Introductions / Re: Old dog, new tricks
« on: Feb 10, 2015, 12:38 am »
Welcome, welcome, welcome Karen - no pizza rolls here.

(By the way, I knew Karen . . . um . .. 24 years ago at UC Irvine . . . when she was something like 6? . . . )

Job Postings / Re: Shanghai Disney
« on: Feb 05, 2015, 09:46 pm »
Interesting . . . I have a skype meeting with them next week - no language skill here . . . will report back what I learn.

Same here... wait I'm up against Matthew?! I better throw in the towel. ;)

Hahahaha - I am pretty sure I can't take the job - but I am very interested in learning more about it.

I do, but not often with musicals . . . but we shall see as I do more musicals.

I underline, bold and highlight the "start speaking" cue, and box, bold the GO word.

Stage Management: Other / Re: Rehearsal DVDs becoming obsolete
« on: Feb 05, 2015, 10:39 am »
I think Private Vimeo and Youtube have been "approved" by AEA on some verbal rulings I have received . . . might be the way to go.

Job Postings / Re: Shanghai Disney
« on: Feb 05, 2015, 10:37 am »
Interesting . . . I have a skype meeting with them next week - no language skill here . . . will report back what I learn.

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