Author Topic: SM as Board Op -- What to Ask For  (Read 3028 times)

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XanderQCall

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SM as Board Op -- What to Ask For
« on: Nov 17, 2015, 03:40 pm »
Greetings Everyone!!
I wanted to pick your brains about something. I have always had to op a board throughout most of my SM career, but now I am AEA, working at theatres that require the SM to run a board or 2. I  want to talk to my producers about getting additional compensation for running a board. My question is has anyone ever gotten additional compensation for board oping and how much was it? Did you charge per board you had to operate, etc? I am just trying to get an idea of what to ask for.

Side note: AEA has been treating me very well so far. Finding out I get a 1/6th bump up for tech week was a giddy moment and I am 1 week shy of being eligible for 6 months of health insurance. I am loving my union!!

megf

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Re: SM as Board Op -- What to Ask For
« Reply #1 on: Nov 17, 2015, 08:20 pm »
First, congratulations! That's an exciting milestone, and it sounds like you're already learning about and engaging with your new professional status. Woohoo!

I would recommend asking yourself, and then your producer, a few questions to determine the best solution for operating a board.

-Does the contract/code offer any guidance on additional duties?

-What did the last SM request for these duties? Is there a precedent at this company or with this General Manager?

-In the past, when I've been approached about operating a board, I ask for a 10 percent bump on top of my gross weekly salary, as well as paid rehearsal time with a qualified electrician, during tech and previews, to ensure I know how to do essential trouble shooting. The questions are: is there a qualified electrician in the building during performances? Are you just pushing a button, or are you jumping on a ladder and doing lamp replacements and repairing moving lights? Also - who runs the board during tech?

-When I've run Qlab, I ask for a 5 percent bump, and ask also that someone else do maintenance. If your skills in Qlab are excellent, do what works for you - but I'm just not that handy with the software, and it would be a) bad for the show and b) a burden for me, to take responsibility for troubleshooting the program for the duration of a show's run.

Keep us posted!

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loebtmc

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Re: SM as Board Op -- What to Ask For
« Reply #2 on: Nov 18, 2015, 01:47 pm »
Unless it's a code with no specifications, SMs are prohibited from running boards - with a cut-out for additional pay for additional duties. There is a rider that needs to be generated with a separate fee and permission.

And the first time you do this, there will be ... challenges. Theaters with small booths do this all the time and too many consider it part of the SMs job. Especially the things that accompany, like dimmer checks and lamp swaps, Qlab maintenance etc. So find out what happened before and if you can do it discretely, have the Equity rep reach out. (If that person saw your show, say, and saw you running boards, and asked the producer abt it, for ex.) But yes, it can be a snake pit.

Rates vary from abt $25/show and upwards - and you can justify by reminding them that they are saving the cost of a board op so in the long run it shd be cheaper to have you do it than hiring another body. 

But be careful. There are theaters who make that a condition of hiring (which is illegal but too common) and won't hire if you expect your fair and legal (and contract-mandated) payment.

MatthewShiner

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Re: SM as Board Op -- What to Ask For
« Reply #3 on: Nov 18, 2015, 03:48 pm »
Last time I ran a board, I asked for $200.00 a week.

Which was 25% on my base salary.

And all I did was DURING show - there was a requirement that all checks, maintenance, etc was done by staff pre-show.

(This was still cheaper then hiring a board operator)

This was at a LORT C Theater.
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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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Aerial

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Re: SM as Board Op -- What to Ask For
« Reply #4 on: Nov 19, 2015, 01:01 am »
First, congratulations! That's an exciting milestone, and it sounds like you're already learning about and engaging with your new professional status. Woohoo!

I would recommend asking yourself, and then your producer, a few questions to determine the best solution for operating a board.

-Does the contract/code offer any guidance on additional duties?

-What did the last SM request for these duties? Is there a precedent at this company or with this General Manager?

-In the past, when I've been approached about operating a board, I ask for a 10 percent bump on top of my gross weekly salary, as well as paid rehearsal time with a qualified electrician, during tech and previews, to ensure I know how to do essential trouble shooting. The questions are: is there a qualified electrician in the building during performances? Are you just pushing a button, or are you jumping on a ladder and doing lamp replacements and repairing moving lights? Also - who runs the board during tech?

-When I've run Qlab, I ask for a 5 percent bump, and ask also that someone else do maintenance. If your skills in Qlab are excellent, do what works for you - but I'm just not that handy with the software, and it would be a) bad for the show and b) a burden for me, to take responsibility for troubleshooting the program for the duration of a show's run.

Keep us posted!

These are all things I keep in mind as well.  I don't have  set amount I ask for.  I factor in things like how many boards I'm being asked to run, and my general feelings about the theatre. Some little theatres really take care of their people in other ways, and in those cases I'm more willing to be flexible. Its the theatres where they try to get as much out of you for nothing where I feel the need to negotiate toughly, and as I said, these are little/midsized theatres, mostly NEAT contract or LOA.  LORT is a whole different story.  There are very few cases where I feel like I should be running a board at a LORT theatre. 

Points that I clarify at the beginning include that I won't be the one programming, nor doing maintenance.  I'm happy to do a dimmer check of turning all channels on and then looking to see if they all came on, but then if something's not working, I make sure to find out who I then tap to fix it. 


bex

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Re: SM as Board Op -- What to Ask For
« Reply #5 on: Nov 19, 2015, 02:01 pm »
I second MegF's response.

I don't mind pushing a button for a little extra $$, so long as I am 100% NOT responsible for dimmer check/speaker check, replacing blown lamps, etc. AND that I get time with one of the electricians to show me how to trouble-shoot for problems mid-show, how to shut down at night, etc.

I ran into issues the last time I did this because the theater's ME was basically a huge jerk. And even though the PM had assured me that I would get a tutorial from him before I ran the board for the first time, first dress rolled around and the ME acted like that was the most absurd thing he had ever heard of and essentially told me that I didn't need to know anything except where the GO button was. Long story short, I got a tutorial from the electrics intern while the ME was at dinner. Then, halfway through the run, he changed the board. I walked into the booth one day, two hours before curtain, and had a completely different light board with different sliders, different buttons, etc. No warning, no note, nothing. I had... some heated words with the PM about that one, and got another tutorial from the very helpful and apologetic electrics intern.

So basically what I'm saying is, whatever concerns you have, voice them before you agree to do it. And whatever you agree to, get it in writing and HOLD THEM TO IT. Don't do anything you're not comfortable with.
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.

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KMC

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Re: SM as Board Op -- What to Ask For
« Reply #6 on: Nov 22, 2015, 12:05 am »
This probably goes without saying, but make sure the producer knows it is somewhere between extremely difficult and impossible to have a contingency plan in place when one body is basically filling the role of three.  If you are out, the show is basically cancelled.  That is a lot of risk.
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

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lsears

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Re: SM as Board Op -- What to Ask For
« Reply #7 on: Nov 23, 2015, 06:41 am »
Running a board cannot be a condition of employment.  Many smaller theaters (smaller booths or smaller budgets) treat it as such, but hopefully they already have a default amount of money they pay you when you sign your rider informing AEA that you are running a board.

I work in the Boston area where the NEAT contract frequently sees SMs run either the light or sound boards.  Over the past year we've worked very hard to get the theaters on that contract to standardize what they pay for those extra duties, however it is a drop in the bucket, about $50/week. 

The SMs in my area have vastly different takes on how much is included in that - on my end, I am not a sound technician or an electrician or a programmer.  I don't do channel or speaker checks and if something goes wrong there is next to nothing I can do to fix it.  I don't agree to run boards until shortly before tech when I know what the show is and how cue heavy it is and if there's a way to use someone else to be a board op.  I hate agreeing to anything that takes my focus away from my primary responsibilities.

loebtmc

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Re: SM as Board Op -- What to Ask For
« Reply #8 on: Nov 23, 2015, 08:51 pm »
Running a board cannot be a condition of employment.

On paper yes. In practice where they can't get caught, sadly, it happens too often

lsears

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Re: SM as Board Op -- What to Ask For
« Reply #9 on: Nov 24, 2015, 10:47 am »
I know - its unfortunate and it is common in Boston.  The first step we made in trying to get producers (and SMs) to understand this was to refuse to sign the rider about extra duties at the same time we sign our contracts. 

XanderQCall

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Re: SM as Board Op -- What to Ask For
« Reply #10 on: Mar 25, 2016, 10:18 am »
Good Morning Stage  Managers!!
I know it's been awhile since I made this post but I have an update. One theatre gave me board ops for the show I am currently doing so that got sorted out and the second theatre, who just joined Equity this year, had NO idea that I wasn't allowed to run the boards without additional compensation so I found the rule and read it to them and we are going to discuss the amount. I gave them an option to use the SPT Dance Captain rates as a starting point. Thank you all so much for the advice!!

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SGU312

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Re: SM as Board Op -- What to Ask For
« Reply #11 on: Mar 25, 2016, 12:53 pm »
When I was under an SPT contract as an ASM, I was compensated extra for all the set moves I did (I had no crew...)
It was an additional $15/wk.
The show I'm ASMing now (not under as AEA and again no crew), the Equity actors are involved with several large set changes and are getting an additional $5 per move per week.
Don't know if this is helpful since it's much less than the dance captain rates.

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