Author Topic: Opportunity to Join IATSE - To Join or Not to Join?  (Read 3297 times)

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DSchram

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Opportunity to Join IATSE - To Join or Not to Join?
« on: Jun 22, 2015, 12:57 am »
So, a bit of an odd question here, and I've done some scanning around the boards to see if there are any similar topics already broached, but as I have not seen one...

I work as a freelance non-AEA stage manager, and while I will potentially have the opportunity to join AGMA later this year (which, to my understanding, is a far easier union to work with, given that they are far less restrictive than AEA), I have no desire to join AEA for some time, as I enjoy the non-AEA work that I am doing, and on advice of several SMs I have consulted with, would like to continue to build my experience and resume before limiting myself to union work.

However, I've recently encountered an interesting proposition that I've been weighing, and would like to get additional input.

In my freelance work, I have had the chance to work on several productions in an IATSE house, and on the most recent, spent a good deal of time with one particular crew member who was my prop manager. Towards the end of our (extremely fast) production, he gave me his business card and informed me that, should I be interested, I should get in touch with him along with my resume, and he would help me join the Local.

For the most part, this seems like an excellent idea. My freelance work is, thus far, fairly inconsistent, and while I make a decent pay for the productions I am employed in, it would be nice to have a second job where I also have the opportunity for benefits, etc. I enjoy doing stage work outside of stage management, and for a variety of reasons, feel that it may benefit me to do some theatrical work outside of the rehearsal room and prompt book (so to speak) - a chance to continue broadening my skill set chief among them.I like the majority of the venues that the Local serves, having worked in several now through my freelancing, and the variety of work seems challenging in the best ways possible. So, all in all, it is something I am highly interested in.

My biggest concern, at this point, would be making certain that if I were to join the Local, it would not in some way prevent me from continuing to do my freelance work, as it is something I deeply enjoy. And while many of my commitments currently have been very short term (1-2 weeks), I am starting to make connections that have helped me get longer term contracts (thus far, only 1 month, but hey, that's 200-400% longer in some cases!) and I would not want to essentially limit myself from taking those jobs.

I've tried to do some research into the particular rules for my Local, but have not been able to find many answers online, and while I certainly will ask my contact, I thought it would be good to touch base with some people here and see what others might have to say. Is it useful, as a stage manager, to have an IATSE card? Has anyone done primarily IATSE work and balanced stage management alongside, or is that just me being a bit crazy? I would love to get some additional insight before getting in touch with him, ideally later this week, so that I know if I should be sending him a resume or asking pertinent questions first!

MatthewShiner

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Re: Opportunity to Join IATSE - To Join or Not to Join?
« Reply #1 on: Jun 22, 2015, 09:43 am »
I worked with an IATSE member who stage managed as well.

There seemed to be no conflict.

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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.

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bex

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Re: Opportunity to Join IATSE - To Join or Not to Join?
« Reply #2 on: Jun 23, 2015, 03:23 pm »
I ASMed a show with a SM who was an IATSE member. It proved pretty helpful as we toured to several IATSE houses on a very tight schedule, he had an immediate camaraderie with the house crew that helped our load-ins/outs run really smoothly. Not that they wouldn't have been smooth otherwise, but having an "in" with a notoriously picky house crew can never hurt.
You will have to sing for your supper & your mortgage, your dental coverage & your children's shoes, over & over again while people in desk jobs roll their eyes the minute you start to complain. So it's a good thing you like to sing.

DSchram

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Re: Opportunity to Join IATSE - To Join or Not to Join?
« Reply #3 on: Jun 24, 2015, 01:44 am »
Wonderful! Thank you both, that's immensely great to hear. It seems like a good time in my life to do this, if I'm going to, so that's incredibly reassuring to hear.

Also, amusingly enough, I just had a director whom I've previously worked with reach out to me to find out my availability for two AGMA productions during the next season... so it seems that I may end up joining two unions in rather short succession if this all pans out. It will make for a very different year!
« Last Edit: Jun 24, 2015, 01:48 am by DSchram »

BayAreaSM

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Re: Opportunity to Join IATSE - To Join or Not to Join?
« Reply #4 on: Jun 25, 2015, 01:27 am »
Depending on the local that you are in jurisdiction of - you may not immediately join, but start out as a "local jobber." At least that's how our local is, due to the number of members. There is a list, based on seniority, and those who have been members the longest are near the top, and they are always offered the calls first. If they are on another IA call, then the call falls down the list until all current members are exhausted and then it falls to the non-union jobbers.

Keep in mind that if you do become an IA member, and you get on the "list", there may be rule that if you turn down a certain number of jobs, you are removed from membership. That would be the only conflict I see, if you have to keep turning down jobs due to a long-term SM job.

My ASM is a local jobber for our IA, and picks up load-ins and load-outs for road shows for extra cash. She's able to do those short gigs, as well as her season of ASM work, and there aren't conflicts. If she keeps up the small jobs, she will eventually be accepted into the IA, and since she'll be so far down the list, it shouldn't be an issue for her to keep working for me and do the small load-ins and outs on weekends.

Best of luck with your decision! (And, of course, your local could be different, depending on your area and the amount of work vs. available membership.)

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LizzG

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Re: Opportunity to Join IATSE - To Join or Not to Join?
« Reply #5 on: Jun 25, 2015, 07:41 am »
Yes - BayAreaSM brings up a great point!  It's more common with bigger locals, but something to check on.  Other than that, I think it would be a great asset.

SMMeade

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Re: Opportunity to Join IATSE - To Join or Not to Join?
« Reply #6 on: Jul 05, 2015, 05:31 am »
Having done theatre pretty much entirely in NYC, I'm always amazed at people getting into IATSE seemingly so easily, as I hear it's hell to get into here. Either way, congrats. You never know when a SM job listing is going to ask for experience working with IA crews, and you'll definitely have that!

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