Author Topic: ASMS: Duties of the ASM (Meta-thread)  (Read 19665 times)

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Daz

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Re: ASM's Prompt Book
« Reply #15 on: Mar 05, 2007, 12:34 am »

My ASM is responsible for creating props presets. Is that what you're talking about?

I'm confused.

It's been a long tech.


Yup, that was what I was referring to.  Having prop and set preset checklists as well as checklists for things before and after the show is probably necessary for an ASM

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MarcieA

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ASMS: Creating Paperwork
« Reply #16 on: Jun 28, 2007, 01:06 pm »
I just had my year-in-review meeting and something interesting came up, so I thought I'd present the topic to the group:

We were talking about ASM/PAs and their responsibilities and such, and I made a comment that it is obviously much easier to work with an assistant who a) is interested in being a stage manager and b) has some sort of basic knowledge of the job. (My ASM for the last 6 months has actually been the artistic apprentice, and while she is a dear friend, she is an actor with no formal SM training at all.)

We talked about the amount of time I have had to spend teaching basic rehearsal duties and how to physically run a show in addition to my duties and how at first I really felt that it compromised my ability to do my job, etc., etc. Then my artistic director said something that I found interesting: that in the past, the stage manager has always created all of the paperwork needed to run the show. This included any paperwork for props, scene shifts, costume changes, etc.

Now, all of this information in included in my book, as a part of my blocking notes, but as a stage manager I have never been expected to do that paperwork. Rather, I should correct myself and say that as an ASM those materials were always my sole responsibility to create, and almost always done without consulting my SM at every step of the way. We clearly communicated about what had to be done, but I created the run sheets and ran the shift rehearsals during tech and so on.

I realise that every theatre and every SM works differently, but that has been the way of things for me since I started out, so I'm curious to know how everyone here does things.

Heather and Erin, you two especially...
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 12:37 am by PSMKay »
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Nbayard

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Re: Creating Paperwork
« Reply #17 on: Jun 28, 2007, 06:06 pm »
Well, I've worked with ASMs who shouldn't be SMing, and so I did all the paperwork myself, even accidently stepping on someones toes by accident once.  But we didn't really have a sound designer or anyone to organize the sound until a faculty member jumped in to set up the sound system.  It wasn't a pretty conversation that day when I handed him the small que sheet for sound.  He had never gone to a rehearsal or production meeting.  But other places I was given the information.  I usually will make my own just in case.  It's a safe bet, the information will be as accurate as possible, and make sure there isnt a cue or something specific that is needed by the director that the designers or someone missed.  I guess it's my OCD, who knows.


04sdwall

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Re: Creating Paperwork
« Reply #18 on: Jun 28, 2007, 10:35 pm »
As a current ASM I very much appreciate when the SM will give me all of the information simply because I may not be able to gather the information on my own and an ASM is more likely to forget something.  As an SM I always make the paperwork for the ASM, in fact I swear my stage management class was 50% about paperwork and organization.  The best justification for SM making the paperwork is that often the ASM has other duties that interfere with being able to gather the information needed for the paperwork.  I have my head stuck in the script half the time trying to write down line notes and be on book.  I could never track all of the props at the same time.  However if I didn't have to do that I would make my own paperwork to ease the burden of the SM (we all know the job of never ending lists) it all has to do with what the theater's policies however I think ASMs only learn more by doing the paperwork themselves.  Maybe your theatre could adapt it into the ASM job description.  Granted the SM always has to ok the paperwork, ASMs often enjoy being trusted with the additional responsibilities.  However if you have to edit and ok the checklists, sometimes its easier just to give them the paperwork.  Just my two cents. 

Mac Calder

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Re: Creating Paperwork
« Reply #19 on: Jun 29, 2007, 12:49 am »
It is all based on communication. Before show starts, I am of the opinion that the 'production' and 'stage management' teams should have already met at least once each. The SM should establish where their team is at, as far as experiance goes, and outline what is expected of the other ASM(s). If working with a green and keen ASM, then maybe it is worth while going into detail about what you expect, and asking them if they would like you to give them a copy of the forms you expect them to fill out.

When SM'ing was my main gig, I prepared a bunch of "ASM Welcome Packs" which was a binder containing all the paperwork I expected with a list of expected ASM duties and checklists. To avoid stepping on toes, I would of course only mention that it was an option if they wished, however if they had their own system, that was fine.

It probably took me a day to make about 20 copies of the kit and cost me about $50 and I think I have a few spares sitting in a cardboard box in storage. It saved a lot of hassels with mis-communication though.

JMullane

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Re: Creating Paperwork
« Reply #20 on: Jun 29, 2007, 05:11 am »
At my last job working in a COST theatre we had a 4 person SM team (PSM, ASM, 2 interns). The PSM generated "boilerplate documents" - templates to establish the format for all documents that would be generated by stage management. Then - the PSM would normally be updating the entrance/exit plot and lights/sound/deck cues during rehearsal. The ASM would be working on shift plots for the crew. One intern would handle script updates, and the other intern would handle props tracking. Each of these were hefty jobs because it was in-the-round with typically at least 8 directions for actors and props to enter/exit, as well as many places for the crew to be, and a good deal of stage mechanics to look out for.

The entrance/exit plot would be given to the costume department, and they would handle generating the costume plot.

Lights and Sound would also generate their own detailed cue sheets which would be decided upon by respective designers.

This system worked pretty well! Occasionally, when rehearsals were split into different rooms, we would have to be aware of who was out of the main room and cover any notes that came up in their area. Really, we were tag-teaming the "information gathering" part of the job - and then each individual had the responsibility of sitting at the computer and entering the info into the actual document.

I did something similar in college when I had 2 ASMs. I made one ASM in charge of line notes/prompting. The other was in charge of props. The props ASM was  in charge of generating the preset and tracking paperwork. Line notes was a large part of that particular show, so the prompting ASM had their hands plenty full.

I like the "areas-of-responsibility" system. Helps keep people's brains on-track. =)

MatthewShiner

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Re: Creating Paperwork
« Reply #21 on: Jun 29, 2007, 11:50 am »
Every situation is different, and that is why it is very important to sit down with your team and deciede who is going to do what, and then the PSM/SM should make it clear what format they like.

I admit I often go "I don't care what the paperwork looks like" and then have someone create a document I tear to shreds - so, in reality "I don't care what the paperwork looks like as long as I find it useful to me." 

I basically, in the grand scheme of things, only do the production report and the rehearsal call, I expect my ASM to do the run book and prop list, PA's and Interns usually do other paperwork - but we often tag team big projects, like the run book so everyone works on it.

But in the end, EVERYTHING is my responsibility.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

Rebbe

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Re: Creating Paperwork
« Reply #22 on: Jun 29, 2007, 12:50 pm »
.....as a stage manager I have never been expected to do that paperwork.......as an ASM those materials were always my sole responsibility to create, and almost always done without consulting my SM at every step of the way.
I wouldn’t worry too much about who is doing the paperwork, as long as it gets done without one person being overburdened.  Everyone will have different expectations on how to divide the workload, so I don’t think it can be set in stone that the ASM does X,Y,Z and the SM does A,B,C.  In the end, I do think it’s the SMs job to make sure that all of the paperwork needed to run the show is produced, and I wouldn’t describe that as giving the ASM “sole responsibility,” even for tasks I delegate to them.    Even when working with the “areas-of-responsibility” system JMullane mentioned, I’ll often find that while one person is in charge of typing up a document, information gathering is a collaborative effort (two people watching the stage will see twice as much).   

I’m usually working with just-out-of-college non-eq ASMs, so I look at mentoring and teaching as part of the job.  I’m pleasantly surprised when I get an ASM who doesn’t need a huge amount of attention and training.  I encourage my novice ASMs to take ownership of runsheets and prop lists, but after being burned a couple times, I do make regular checks on their progress.  For some ASMs, yes, I need to consult with them every step of the way.  Sometimes I’ll give the ASM a template and ask them to make it show specific and keep it up-to-date.  Other times we’ll discuss the info I need to have on the documents, then I’ll let them take a stab at putting it all on paper, then if I think their format works we’ll go with it. 
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)

McShell

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Re: Creating Paperwork
« Reply #23 on: Jun 29, 2007, 03:51 pm »
Usually when I assist I just ask the stage manager if they like it a particular way, and if there's no preference, I look at what the last few looked like in that space, and do it that way, that way the different departments are pretty used to the format.  I fudge things here and there, but for the most part it's the same.  I've only had to start from scratch once when I went into a theatre for a season.  I love it when stage managers double check my work, not every day, but before I make dozens of copies of something, or mass email a major document, that way I'm sure it's something they would put their name on.  Maybe what happened in your situation, is the assistant did have a hand in the paperwork, but the SM is the one that emailed, or distributed it, or their initials are on it, so the artistic director assumes it was the stage manager who did it.  I can't picture an assistant not doing paperwork, but I've dreamt about it.

MarcieA

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Re: Creating Paperwork
« Reply #24 on: Jun 29, 2007, 04:50 pm »
At my last job working in a COST theatre we had a 4 person SM team (PSM, ASM, 2 interns). The PSM generated "boilerplate documents" - templates to establish the format for all documents that would be generated by stage management. Then - the PSM would normally be updating the entrance/exit plot and lights/sound/deck cues during rehearsal. The ASM would be working on shift plots for the crew. One intern would handle script updates, and the other intern would handle props tracking. Each of these were hefty jobs because it was in-the-round with typically at least 8 directions for actors and props to enter/exit, as well as many places for the crew to be, and a good deal of stage mechanics to look out for.

The entrance/exit plot would be given to the costume department, and they would handle generating the costume plot.

Lights and Sound would also generate their own detailed cue sheets which would be decided upon by respective designers.

This system worked pretty well! Occasionally, when rehearsals were split into different rooms, we would have to be aware of who was out of the main room and cover any notes that came up in their area. Really, we were tag-teaming the "information gathering" part of the job - and then each individual had the responsibility of sitting at the computer and entering the info into the actual document.

I did something similar in college when I had 2 ASMs. I made one ASM in charge of line notes/prompting. The other was in charge of props. The props ASM was  in charge of generating the preset and tracking paperwork. Line notes was a large part of that particular show, so the prompting ASM had their hands plenty full.

I like the "areas-of-responsibility" system. Helps keep people's brains on-track. =)


This is pretty much how I always ran things as well, which is why I found it suprising that my Art. Dir. said that the SM did it all.

I suppose that I should have clarified- I had this conversation with my assistant beforehand- so who did what was never confused between us. As she had never ASMed before I did infact end up giving her templates of all of my paperwork, some she adapted, some she didn't and I always went through it with her.

So Like Matthew, and alot of other people- I don't care, as long as it's just the way I like it, haha.

I do all of the pre-pro work and expect my ASM/PA to take over the running paperwork. I do line notes and blocking until we start doing full runs (when the PA takes over line stuff so I can watch), by which time I expect atleast preliminary run sheets to be made, and I'll use them to jump up and help out. I just feel that ultimately, if it's their show to run, then it's their show to create the work for.
Companions whom I loved and still love, tell them my song.

Balletdork

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Re: Creating Paperwork
« Reply #25 on: Jul 02, 2007, 09:26 am »
My experience at the Race was that it depended on the ASM.... Not be all braggy- but I was better at the paperwork stuff than the typical asm's they had. SO I did most of my own paperwork when I was an asm. BUT- I think I was an exception. As I recall the traditional ASM's at the Race were more actor's who weren't in the show or other friends of the organization....

ljh007

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Re: Creating Paperwork
« Reply #26 on: Jul 11, 2007, 08:01 am »
I have always been part of the "do what needs to be done, and keep communication open among the SM team to be sure everyone is doing something" camp. There is always paperwork that is great for ASMs to do, and some that the PSM must do. In most of my experience, stage management generates run sheets - the designers rarely provide anything (except maybe a props summary, lighting magic sheet, costume manifest, and that's all). I have always made it a habit to jump into paperwork I thought might be necessary but wasn't sure - like run sheets and cue lists - so that it was ready to go in case the designer/crew needed the info but hadn't thought to summarize it. This was very nerdy overachiever behavior (that I hid for a little while for fear of stepping on others' toes), but saved the day more than once.

stagemonkey

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Re: Creating Paperwork
« Reply #27 on: Jul 12, 2007, 02:07 pm »
It really doesnt matter how its done it just matters that it is done and everyone knows how it is getting done.  Whether that mean the PSM does it all or filters stuff down to the ASM's and PA's.  The last show I was a PA on where I ran everything backstage the SM always said that the backstage was my area so do whatever paperwork I need so I can understand what needs to be done.  He of course required a copy of all my run sheets by opening night to keep in his book.  And of course with my mentality being that anyone should be able to pick up that run sheet and do my job backstage it was nice clear and concise.  Usually when I have SMed though I do a lot of the paperwork myself because I've had issues trusting ASM's to do the job, however I am trying to be more trusting in the matter. 

Libby

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Re: ASM's Prompt Book
« Reply #28 on: Aug 29, 2007, 12:30 am »
I have never PAed or interned on a show where I did not see the medical forms. Out of habit on every show I work on I look for the following information: allergies, medications, and birthdays.
As an ASM I keep the regualars in my book (contact sheet, calendar, scene breakdown, script) and then also anything related to the props/deck: props preset/tracking, props plot, transition plot. Since it is the ASM's responsibility to come up with the run sheet and props preset and also to know the setup/preset in the rehearsal hall where there is no crew (minus a PA or two) to assist.

Mac Calder

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Re: ASM's Prompt Book
« Reply #29 on: Aug 29, 2007, 01:34 am »
I disagree with ASM's having a copy of medical forms - however I do not disagree with them having ACCESS when required to medical forms.

I keep two folders for a show. The ASM's prompt book contains everything I have in the second folder, plus whatever else they need. Folder number 2 contains all the floor plans, calling scripts, plots, cue sheets etc.

Folder number one contains show reports, rehearsal reports, incident reports, risk assessments, MEDICAL FORMS, yadda yadda yadda. Information that is not needed to run a show, but is needed on site in case of special circumstances.

I make sure that the ASM is aware of where folder #1 can be found in case of emergency - in most cases, in my bag, beside me at the Prompt desk. I want to know if there is an emergency that requires hospitalisation/ambulances/reference to a medical report.

Medical forms are of course destroyed on termination of show, however how can I guarantee they are destroyed, if they are not under my control.

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