Author Topic: ASMS: Great ASM  (Read 4687 times)

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Emmy

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ASMS: Great ASM
« on: Oct 17, 2005, 11:33 pm »
I'm working on a show next school quarter and I want to encourage good ASMs. Do you have any suggestions? If I were to go to oddlots and get supplies for them what would be the best kit for a great ASM?
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 10:46 pm by PSMKay »

ljh007

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Re: Great ASM
« Reply #1 on: Oct 18, 2005, 08:18 am »
In my experience, being a great ASM is more about an attitude than any tricks or gadgets you might have up your sleeve. I hope that any ASM I work with is enthusiastic, calm, level-headed, diplomatic, confident, smart, and always interested in learning more. I like to work with people who work daily to surpass their own limitations and are always interested in improving their skills. Instead of hearing "I don't know how to do that," I hope they'll say "I'll figure it out!" After a few rocky experiences, I've also come to value a calm, even temperment. It's hard to trust that wacky (and usually young) ASM who loves to climb a truss barefoot or bust out their new mini-welder when a little black gaff would do just fine. An abundance of this kind of enthusiasm can actually make me feel unsafe. A good ASM will keep their eyes and ears open, asks questions when they need to, and is always ready to take on the crisis of the day. Eventually, an ASM with smarts and a can-do personality will evolve into a first-rate PSM.

Emmy

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Great ASM
« Reply #2 on: Oct 18, 2005, 09:20 am »
Thanks that is super helpful

giabow

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Great ASM
« Reply #3 on: Oct 18, 2005, 08:14 pm »
The qualities I like best in an ASM is someone who will take initiative.  If they see me moving some chairs and they don't hop up to help, I wonder if they're right for the job.  The best ASM I ever had would try to beat me backstage after The Miracle Worker shows to wash the dishes before I had a chance to do it (she was a little strange.)

To encourage good work from my ASMs, I try to tell them often that they're doing a good job.  In my opinion, ASM is the worst job to have.  You feel like you're the SMs gofer and noone gives you credit for the hard work you do.  Every once in a while, I'll bring in a little treat (candy or something) to let them know I appreciate them.  For my 21+ ASMs, I'll buy them a drink opening and closing nights.

jenk

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Great ASM
« Reply #4 on: Oct 19, 2005, 12:18 pm »
I totally echo everything said so far. A good ASM is worth their weight in gold. Be wary of the barefoot with the miniwelders, and also of the ones whose first reponse is "that can't be done."  Praise and encouragement is essential, but also be very clear and firm at the very beginning as to what you expect, and that you are there to help them. Hold them to your standards, don't let them get away with blaming things on other people- especially on actors. ASMs need to know that they are responsible for eveything, just like you are, and even if something happened because of someone else, they should be actively taking steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.
There are a few essentials I do give to my new ASMs, though which you might consider: I give them a black fanny pack with band-aids, safety pins, and a supply of glow tape already cut into little 1" pieces. I tell them I expect this to always be on them in rehearsal and performance, they need to refill it as necessary,and that they need to get themseves a small maglite or LED blue flashight as well. At tech, I bequeath to them, "The white gaff, that makes all things visible to actors; and the black gaff, that fixes all things. Keep these in your reach at all times, and the show shall run smoothly."

ORTaurean

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Great ASM
« Reply #5 on: Oct 19, 2005, 03:12 pm »
My current ASM is t he best I've ever had.  (I've had great ones in the past - very lucky)

She is not only attentive to rehearsal, actor questions and follow up (BIG ONE!!), she checks in with me all the time.  The best part is that I can let her go with expectation and it gets done (plus more than I could ask).

She takes inititive, commuicates (ANOTHER BIG ONE) and is more than helpful.

Case in point, when I met her (over the phone, I might add), we talked about past experience and the show...then I laid out what I was thinking about putting her in charge of.  I mentioned that for this show I thought I would have her take charge of props and lines...enought to keep someone busy and take a load off of me.  When we finally got to meet in person, it happened to be first rehearsal.  The director started with a bang and I was scribbling notes about preset, specific prop requests (down to color, texture, size, etc.) and the like...as I glanced over to see what my ASM was doing and she had the prop list started.  All of my fears left me at that point and I knew we were going to be a great team.

I think that's the other part of having a great ASM - does your ASM compliment you and fill in gaps that could be lacking in your style?  If so, then you have a complete team that covers all the bases.

The best part is that I only have to tell her things once and I know it's taken care of.  We can all only hope for this...
Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly.
-Rosiland Russell

BalletPSM

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Great ASM
« Reply #6 on: Oct 20, 2005, 08:52 am »
I look for ASMs who I know will be able work with union stagehands.  =)  Are they smart?  Willing to learn?  Willing to take directions and instructions from my TD or lighting designer?  Can they take initiative and take charge if they find themselves standing around with empty or idle hands?  Do they have a sense of humor?

Obviously the whole union thing doesn't apply to you, Emmy, but I think those are good qualities to look for in an ASM.  If you're lucky you will find someone that you like to work with and will be able to work with them again and again.

Incidentally, my boyfriend was the best ASM I ever had (he's a sound guy) -- he did one show for me as a favor at the last minute, and he was great!  I was worried about the entire weekend -- thought we would end up in some huge fight and I would have to kick him out of the theatre, but I didn't, and now I'm bummed he's on tour because I want him to do more work for me!
Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

groovygert

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Great ASM
« Reply #7 on: Nov 15, 2005, 01:12 am »
i thought i had a great asm and she was pretty good during most of the rehearsal process, then we hit about right before tech week (when i started to need her the most) and its like a different person showed up. she became obsessed with one of the guys in the cast (which incidently is my brother). she spends most of her time now moping and being difficult to work with. she's abrasive to a number of the girls in the cast now because of their connection with him (especially when they go near him or talk to him). she rides his case with no reason and yells about disrespect (merely because he got sick of trying to explain that he doesn't want or need a relationship and started telling her to just get away from him), she won't do anything backstage that i really need her to, she refuses to get on the headset because we don't have a wireless set and she doesn't want attached to the wall, she refuses to help with presets, and i have gotten to the point where my prop mistress is running the backstage and acting as asm while i'm in the booth.

typically i work tech that i know something about before hand... at least with part of my crew, but this time i didn't get that option. i also did plan on my decent asm to be stalker-like with one of the actors. its good to know what type of a stagemanager you are... what works for you and how you work... and how others work with you and what you need. in an ideal world my asm was being trained for shows down the road, now i know that i don't know if she can handle more responsibility and she has become mre difficult to work with.

look for someone who complements your personality and for someone who you can work with. sometimes you get really lucky, like with my prop mistress, and sometimes you just have to deal.

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