Author Topic: CALLING: Headset Etiquette  (Read 28920 times)

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MileHighSM

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CALLING: Headset Etiquette
« on: May 07, 2007, 05:15 pm »
I'm interested on gathering some opinions on a topic that certainly affects all of us at some point-headset etiquette.  I recently worked with an SM who would curse out actors over the headset (if they messed up a Q line, etc.) and seemed to almost pride herself on being bitchy.  She constantly threw around (out of respect I'll abbreviate) G.D. and J.C., and just had the mouth of a sailor.  I realize this business is liberal (hell, I'll admit I don't have the cleanest mouth in the world) but I was taught that the SM sets the tone of the production and if you're constantly tense and bitchy and using more profanity than regular words, I guess I feel like that just sets a bad precedent.  How do others feel about what should/shouldn't be said on headset and how you say it?
« Last Edit: Jun 09, 2009, 02:24 am by PSMKay »

ChaCha

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Re: Headset Etiquette
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2007, 06:09 pm »
if the sm shows no respect for others how can they expect to be respected?

aim to never say anything over headsets you wouldn't be prepared to say to someone's face
ChaCha

Mac Calder

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Re: Headset Etiquette
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2007, 06:32 pm »
Cans Etiquette. One of the biggest can of worms in existance. The ideal cans etiquette would be to not say anything you wouldn't be prepared to say to every member of the cast (ie keep it to "LX1 Go", "Chookers", "Lovely entrance", "Geeze that girl has a voice" etc). That said, it never happens that way.

My work has a large male percentage (ie the only female works in the office as secretary) and conversations over cans can get quite... indecent. For some reason, a lot of men, when they put on their headsets decide they can voice their inner monologue safely - and when a lot of men voice said monologue the testosterone flows. Scenario: There is a camera man on cans who knows everyone working the shift. The other people working the shift are in the bio each with a cue monitor showing the camera feed. Nothing much is happening. What does the camera do - it goes looking for T&A. Cans conversation follows. It's rude, indecent, and objectifies women - and I am against that, however I will not deny I my guilt in the matter (after all, we do have people like Miss World Australia at the events)

We deal with corporate events, as well as things like weddings, engagements, school breakup parties etc. So in addition to an overabundance of testosterone, we spend a lot of our time bagging the clients over cans - often for good reason (if you think some directors are pains in the rear end, try dealing with people who run charities, and expect the world for next to nothing), and generally, it does not come back to bite you in the rear. But occasionally, it has.

And if you think the "If three women were put on an island, two would go away and bitch about the third" stereotype is true... Males are MUCH worse.

Thankfully, cans etiquette is such that what is said on cans, stays on cans. It does not excuse the behaviour of people on cans, but it does help to keep the working relationship between people cool and collected.

Appologies for rambling.

Balletdork

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Re: Headset Etiquette
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2007, 06:49 pm »
if the sm shows no respect for others how can they expect to be respected?

aim to never say anything over headsets you wouldn't be prepared to say to someone's face

My thoughts exactly!  ;)

nmno

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Re: Headset Etiquette
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2007, 09:07 pm »
For me, it usually depends on my crew and the show how informal I get.  I've done shows where there's a long time between cues and we'd chat, or I'd let them chat and just tune them out.  But my crew also knew that if I said "quiet please" that I meant it for whatever reason and respected it.  I'd explain later ("the actress was doing something different" "The actor wanted me to watch and see why a moment was landing", "I need to pay careful attention during the fight scene" "Let's keep the topics PG rated" etc.) 
If I have an issue with a crew member, I don't call them out over headset.  They know that if I react after a cue (sometimes "damn it" sometimes I just silently "grrrr") they know it's me being frustrated with how I called the cue and not with them.
And if I'm working with a new crew, I am conscious of the fact that they don't know all my sounds and quirks.
I've also done quite a few shows with the rail on a biscuit, and worked at a theatre where the PM would sometimes listen in from his office, so I am aware that anyone could be listening in and don't say (or let anything be said) that I couldn't defend.

SMJorge

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Re: Headset Etiquette
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2007, 02:02 pm »
It's also important to remember, depending on the configuration of your theatre, other people will be listening to your conversations. Example, I work at a road house that has a squawk box in the tech office, which is USL. One time there was some conversations over the headset about the person in charge of the event (it was some corporate thing), the door to the office was open, someone from the org was walking by the office, heard the conversation and the rest of the day was hell.

OfficerKrupke

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Re: Headset Etiquette
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2007, 05:34 pm »
While in most theatres the rule is "what is said on the headset, stays on the headset" there usually is someone who will blab to those not on headset. So, my philosophy is never say anything you wouldn't mind saying to their face.

Rebbe

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Re: Headset Etiquette
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2007, 01:49 pm »
Cursing out actors, ever, is a no-no in my book; doing it over headset doesn’t make it OK.  Headset can create a false sense of intimacy, but as others have mentioned, it’s often possible for more people to be listening in that you think.  If anyone on deck takes of their headset for a transition without turning it off or the volume down, an actor walking backstage could hear your conversation…it might even leek onto the stage or into the house if the show is quiet enough. 

At its best, light headset conversation can actually build crew morale, and keep anyone from dying of
boredom during a long run.  But first everyone needs to be comfortable with the type of humor and language being used  (that can be hard to determine over headset), and it needs to be clear that the work comes first; to that end, the SM's voice should trump all conversation, at any time.  I might say “let’s talk about this off-headset” if a conversation gets too animated.  I’ve also been known to call a STBY a bit early to get the focus back on the show.
"...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)

Tempest

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Re: Headset Etiquette
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2007, 10:44 am »
With the caveat of "Me saying quiet means the conversation stops on that very syllable," I like to encourage lighthearted conversatin on headset.  Particularly if we've got someone on there who's in an uncomfortable place (like the grid) or there's LONG gaps between cues.  Keeps people awake and focused on listening.
We did a clean joke contest for one run.  The winner?

Q: What's brown and sticky?

A: A stick.

Yes. That particular show was that boring.
Jessica: "Of course I have a metric size 4 dinglehopper in my kit!  Who do you think I am?"

04sdwall

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Re: Headset Etiquette
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2007, 11:53 pm »
Headset etiquette seems to be a rather tricky subject.  Once you have run the same show 20 times it can become so routine that people zone out on the headset and dont pay attention.  So talking can improve that.  I think that keep communication open is always a good thing, and something i am surprised no one has mentioned is positive feedback on headset, it is always good to give compliments on headset to your crew when possible and merited.  So as long as you have a mature crew and a show that isnt that complicated it usually only improves a show.

Balletdork

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Re: Headset Etiquette
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2007, 11:41 am »
Of course, then you get into the whole stage hand/SM dynamic, which is a topic all by itself.....

You said it, brother!  ;)

Jessie_K

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Re: Headset Etiquette
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2007, 12:11 am »
Of course, then you get into the whole stage hand/SM dynamic, which is a topic all by itself.....

You said it, brother!  ;)

So very true.  Whoever figures it out should write a book.  Or two books.

ben.bavington

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Re: Headset Etiquette
« Reply #12 on: Jun 04, 2007, 10:29 pm »
I haven't done a whole lot of shows with headsets (I haven't done a lot of shows in general), but from my experience, it usually comes down to a few factors:

1) How well the crew meshes with each other and how much room for joking around there is within the relationships.

2) What is going on in the show at the time of the conversation, for example, the last show I did, midway through the run, we all knew when the technically hectic points of the show occurred and fit our headset courtesy and joking according to that.

3) Exactly what's being said, I mean, it's cool to make fun of actors when they slip and fall or screw-up a major line, but downright insulting is just kinda going too far.

ljh007

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Re: Headset Etiquette
« Reply #13 on: Jun 06, 2007, 09:08 am »
Regarding the "what's said on headset stays on headset" principle, I think this doesn't work well when you are in larger theatres where the headset chatter is sent through com to crew quarters, backstage, house sm, etc. Plus, even if you make a statement just to those on headset, you only need one person to tell the actor that you made fun of his hair and then you have major drama. Why risk it for a lame joke?

I have worked with many many SMs who think that their salior mouths make them seasoned professionals (or something). I've never bought into that.

Keeping a fun, friendly, but firm reign on headset chatter is part of being an SM.

SummerShakespeare

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Re: Headset Etiquette
« Reply #14 on: Jun 13, 2007, 06:54 pm »
Oh man you never know who is listening, I did Throughly Modern Millie and one of the techs girlfriend was Miss dorthy a supporting lead and we all got off of head set for intermission preset

He decided to get on and heard our projectionist (Matt) talking about how bad she was a a performer

Matt car had slashed tires and a broken windshield by the time we got out of the show that night, needless to say we replaced 2 crew members the next day
All on the same G.O.

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