Author Topic: CAREER: Big fish in a little pond or...  (Read 4502 times)

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CAREER: Big fish in a little pond or...
« on: Aug 19, 2005, 12:10 am »
I was wondering what people thought would be the smarter career move- stage managing a show for a small, non-professional theatre or interning at a large professional theatre. Those of you who hire, are you more impressed by an intern credit from a big LORT theatre or an SM credit from a company you have never heard of? I have been trying to figure out what is the better path and where I should put my energy.
« Last Edit: Jun 08, 2009, 10:26 pm by PSMKay »

Mac Calder

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Big fish in a little pond or...
« Reply #1 on: Aug 19, 2005, 02:18 am »
There is a large difference between a large company and a small amdram company.

I have sm'ed a few amdram shows... The fact is though that it is seen as small scale - which it is. Your 'production meetings' may be 15 minutes after a rehearsal with jack all papperwork, your 'creative team' may only be 5 people, your 'crew' may consist of lx op, sd op, asm and a flyman.

I have also sm'ed a larger show (I've done more than one, but I am using a single show as an example). My production meetings were at least an hour every week, with strict minutes taken by my asm. The show was slightly unusual, due to the fact I was also in charge of the budget (more a producer/production manager job) as well as the regular jobs - that meant documentation for everything - You bought a $3 can of hair spray, receipt. You bought a pen. Receipt. You also have a lot more work with managing the space you work in - a larger company may have full length days with full access to a room for the entire rehearsal period, which is a hell of a lot different to having after hours access and having to re-mark the floor before rehearsals. I had a creative team of 15 and over 60 crew- including makeup, quick change costume assistants, fly men, backstage hands, lx op, sound op, radio mic guy, 2 asms, prompt, 2 av men, 3 camera men... the difference in my prompt books was major too. A larger company which is professional, requires a HELL of a lot more paperwork. I had 2 lever arch files. Full. Attendance rosters were not only compulsary for shows, they were required for rehearsals as well and they had to be kept. 3 page rehearsal reports including running times for each scene rehearsed, time had to be accounted for. Weekly departmental status reports were done - so I needed to contact each department, like set construction, and get a progress report - 'on schedule' was considdered unacceptable. I was also required to distribute pay cheques, and keep a log of that as well as maintaining the budget. I also had to have timelines for everything. The set had a castle in the background for example. I spent hours with the set designer and we broke it up into stages - pre cut matterials, 5 days. Create wooden mouldings, 2 days. Paint, 9 days Etc. I thank god that the departments were allowed to do the distribution of work themselves. I loved working on that show, although it had the most comprehensive documentation I have seen on a show to date!

In closing. If you are offered the internship take it. Not only will you see how things happen in a larger place (which I gather is where you want to end up), but you will also make industry contacts. You may work with a well known lighting designer, or a great director. Get business cards from them. Then one day you may be approached for a show, and they will say "Oh, we need a director... do you know anyone?" and you can say "Sure... I know xxxx, do you want his number?". Name dropping gets you everywhere in this industry.

I was interviewing for a sound designer, part of a pannel of five. He mentioned that he had SD'ed with one of the  top LD's in Australia - they would have barely interacted, but two people on the pannel were suitably impressed that he was considered for the position when they had that calibre LD on the show that he was hired. The rest of us were unsure, but due to lack of good applicants, he got in on that fact alone. Personally... I was not overly appreciative of his work (or that of the LD he worked with... that's another story, and largely due to the fact that I do both sound and light design as well)