Author Topic: Hi i'm jess from australia  (Read 5142 times)

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jmag

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Hi i'm jess from australia
« on: Dec 11, 2006, 06:58 am »
hi my name is Jess and i am doing some research into employment in working as a stage manager. I have just recieved my final high school results and i am desperately seeking honest opinions about the availability of jobs, average wages and if jobs are given on the basis of word of mouth or interview process. I'm seriously considering stage management as a career path, however i'm finding i have both limited experience and limited knowledge to get myself into Production courses. If anyone is willing to help me to gain some more insight into this field of work it would be muchly appreciated

megf

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Re: Hi i'm jess from australia
« Reply #1 on: Dec 11, 2006, 10:18 am »
Welcome, Jess! You've come to a good place for pointers on getting started in SM courses. The Students and Novices forum has some great threads going right now - and you can also search the site for specific terms to see if there are older threads where specific issues/terms have been brought up.

Best of luck, and I'll see you around,

Meg

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Re: Hi i'm jess from australia
« Reply #2 on: Dec 11, 2006, 10:48 am »
Hi Jess, Welcome to SM Network and the wonderful world of stage management. :)

I have earned a living as a freelance stage manager in Australia for over ten years. I have worked mostly in Perth and Melbourne(where are you based?), but have also toured extensively both at home and overseas (there can be a lot of travel involved in this career -be warned if you like being home and having a social/family life!)  

I have a BA in English (which I did when I left school) and a Diploma of Performing Arts (Stage Management) from the WA Academy of Performing Arts attached to Edith Cowan University(another 3 year course). The combination of life experience, broad education, and specialised training has been a major factor in my staying in satisfying paid work as I have always been able to talk to directors, designers, general managers and so on at their level. That said, there have been two periods of extended unemployment during my career - essentially both times I suddenly did not recieve contracts from companies who had been employing me for a good part of my year on a series of short contracts, and I hadn't had warning in time to build up relationships with other likely employers. Both times I eventually got back into work...arts companies are not necessarily sane/ethical/logical employers...

Many jobs (for stage managers it tends to be entry level opportunities/co-op/and stage management emergency positions) are advertised through the Arts Hub job listings - you have to be a member to read the listings (www.artshub.com.au)but they have student rates, and its a great resource for keeping up with what's going on in the industry generally(now also available in the UK and the US I believe).

However it is true that 90% of my work comes from a) people who who know me/have worked with me in the past
 b)Other stage managers who have to turn down a job offer suggesting me to the employer c) people who have had me recommended by someone I have worked with in the past.

Before I went to WAPPA I had no connections to the industry. I got my first job after graduation through being recommended by my lecturer to the opera company when they phoned up desperate for a stage manager.So I highly recommend doing training, if only for the contacts. If you are finding it hard to get into a course due to your lack of experience (though experience is what you have coming out not going in necessarily) then I would suggest volunteering in the amateur/fringe world for a year whilst working at something else/maybe doing some related TAFE courses in tech theatre/volunteering on festivals, and reapplying in a year.

The current federal award rate for an assistant stage manager is A$599.05 and for Stage Manager is A$701.35 (based on a 38hr week or thereabouts -you should get overtime but OFTEN this is an issue in stage manager contracts in Australia). There are some more details of the Award terms and conditions in the attached document. You should be aware though that rates of pay will vary wildly and the devil is always in the fine print -learn to be a good negotiator! A contract for a mid level company doing a straight play might average 8-10 weeks.

I know very few stage managers in Australia who have stayed in the role longer than 10-15 years. And lots who last only 5/6 years. It's a career with a high burn out rate for many very good reasons. However there are options for other places to take your hard earned skills and knowledge within the arts industry when you are ready to move on.

I have had some incredible experiences and worked with some extraordinary people, so I don't really regret the boring/highly stressful/long hours/underpaid/etc bits!

Please email or PM me if you would like any more info, and good luck with your decisons.


ChaCha

jmag

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Re: Hi i'm jess from australia
« Reply #3 on: Dec 11, 2006, 05:39 pm »
Thanks for your time that information was great :D. i tried the attached document however i couldn't really read it as all the spacing of the numbers were not in alignment and it basically had numbers randomly placed on the document.

I'm based in Melbourne and i have no worries about moving for work or studies, except not at the present time. I did apply for Victorian Collage of the Arts Production as well as Box hill tafe diploma of live production, theatre and events and other some other tafe course specific in audio visual. I found that i really impressed the tafe courses and that i was kind of pathetic for VCA. Although i am determined to get into VCA i think i'm probably being unrealistic and there is also the fact that my parents are not to cetain that i will be able to get enough employment to support myself. Thanks for your response and i will definately pm you when i get my questions sorted.

Mac Calder

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Re: Hi i'm jess from australia
« Reply #4 on: Dec 11, 2006, 05:47 pm »
Welcome

Get into amdram - I know at least in Vic, there are quite a few Amdram places that need SM's.

I cannot help with pay - I take the odd jobs, which can pay anywhere between nothing, $50 per week, to $850 per week (the later has only happened once) - I tend to average $550 per week when full time SMing - which is, as ChaCha mentioned, quite a bit below the standard award rates for an SM.

I have been looking at getting pro qualifications, and NIDA's Bachelor of Performing Arts specialising in Production seems to be the one that suits me most, although I could not afford to apply for next years intake (I cannot afford to move to Sydney at the moment and give up full time work) - it seems to be a rather rounded "Back stage" course, as opposed to a course in Stage Management. VCA apparently has a course which is "Stage Management" - but the people I have spoken to have all said "Don't bother with it" -  VCA's focus tends towards the performers, as opposed to the non-performance aspects. From what I have heard, NIDA and WAPPA are really the only way to go if you want a respected, well rounded degree.

Fringe is a great place to get contacts in the "New Australian" arena. They are often written/directed by the same person, so when the playwright writes another play, if you did a good job, there is a good chance they will call you first. A tip though, if working on a "New Australian", get the playwright to sign a "Right of First Refusal" contract with you, valid over the next 5 (or 10) years - it is basically an insurance policy that even though you don't get payed for the fringe work, if a professional company wants to mount the play, they either have to pay you out or offer you the job as Stage Manager.
« Last Edit: Dec 11, 2006, 05:49 pm by Mac Calder »

ChaCha

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Re: Hi i'm jess from australia
« Reply #5 on: Dec 11, 2006, 05:52 pm »
Mac, you know about 500 times more about stage management than the average graduate from VCA (and NIDA or WAAPA) You'd go crazy in a lot less than 3 years!

Jess you can find the document at
http://www.alliance.org.au/component/option,com_docman/Itemid,28/task,cat_view/gid,9/
(the MEAA website under Resources / Theatrical workers)

I have worked with Box Hill graduates -had an ASM at Playbox (Malthouse) from that course, so they get out there sometimes. Also, there are plenty of VCA grads working as SMs, but their production course is definately more generalised than at WAAPA.
« Last Edit: Dec 11, 2006, 06:00 pm by ChaCha »
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Re: Hi i'm jess from australia
« Reply #6 on: Dec 11, 2006, 06:00 pm »
Yah, but none of that is recognised. Paper matters I am afraid. Good thing about NIDA (I have not looked at WAPPA, but it may be the same) is that you come out with a whole host of certificates of competency that would cost a bucket load to do independently (like Pyro and work@heights/EWP/etc)

jmag

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Re: Hi i'm jess from australia
« Reply #7 on: Dec 11, 2006, 06:01 pm »
Have you had to supplement you income with other part time jobs say for example working in a supermarket or bar etc? particularly if you have not had a show for a long period of time. People have told me that i should look into pursuing a career as an event manager and do stage management as a hobby, but i would really like to try first to have a career as a stage manager or even working in set design/construction.

jmag

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Re: Hi i'm jess from australia
« Reply #8 on: Dec 11, 2006, 06:08 pm »
thanks chacha for that information its great :D :D

ChaCha

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Re: Hi i'm jess from australia
« Reply #9 on: Dec 11, 2006, 06:21 pm »
 No I havent ever worked in other regular  jobs though I should have during my 2 unemployed bits - I just survived on my savings and centrelink! I think it would be quite possible to work in event management as well as stage management. I have friends who did both from the beginning of their careers. I have only been doing events more recently ( because I cant stand sitting in rehearsal rooms anymore!). I think that if you really want a career as a stage manager you could have one -determination counts for a lot! - but as an ex artistic director said to me recently - you can make a living in the arts but can you make a retirement?! I'd still say go for it, but its widely recognised that you have to be a bit crazy to be in this industry...DONT do it if money is hugely important to you, because unless you become management you are not likely to be super well paid. I have had jobs where Ive been paid well above award, but its uaually an overtime buyout/for big companies which may be hard to get into. I have been paid up to $1200p/wk on a few contracts. One place in Melbourne you might be able to get unpaid work experience as an unpaid ASM/crew person working with a professional stage manager/director/etc is at NICA on their public shows.
« Last Edit: Jan 07, 2007, 10:12 am by ChaCha »
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Re: Hi i'm jess from australia
« Reply #10 on: Dec 11, 2006, 07:49 pm »
I am lucky in that I have two or three temp jobs that I can just make a phone call, and have work the next week. Not glamorous, not well paying, but they keep me alive.

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