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Messages - Mac Calder

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16
In Australia, it is more an events thing than an arts thing. Many gov't departments require a welcome to country or land acknowledgement.

17
Yes, I have had a cast member perform the welcome. Basically if it is performed by an aboriginal, it would generally be a Welcome to Country which is a bit more grandiose - an acknowledgement of country can be done by anyone - generally we would record a VO if we were doing a cultural performance and just play it at the top of show straight after killing house lx.

The Australian Aboriginals are tribal - so it is a bit sensitive in that the Whadjuk people's traditional lands cover just under 7,000m2, and we were lucky in that this cast member was openly a member, actively supporting the community.  So in this case we were sure that we were not asking someone from the wrong tribe to perform the welcome. After that I contacted the local elders and explained the event and the nature of the performance. Upon getting their go ahead, just asked the question... it went along the lines of

Quote
Me: "Hey Johnny, you know how we are doing the special showing on Tuesday, would you open to performing the welcome to country on behalf of yourself and your elders. We thought it would be more meaningful coming from a member of the company - the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council have given it the go ahead if you are open to it?"
Johnny: "Yeah, sure."
Me: "Cheers."

Out communications with SWALSC generally also involved us ensuring an allowance was paid for the cast member for performing the Welcome to Country as if an elder came to do it we would have to pay the elder for their time - usually around AU$500-AU$1000 - so we would pay a couple of hundred to the cast member (seeing as they were already there so the burden on them was a bit lower) and to "prove" we were not trying to be exploitative. And it generally came as a surprise to the cast member when it showed up in their pay.

Personally I find the whole exercise a little bit sad - especially as the acknowledgement in particular is to tick a box on the event organisers political correctness guideline sheet and is read word for word from a piece of paper with no real meaning behind it.

18
Talk to the local native council or similar if it exists - where I am, in Perth Australia, the traditional "Acknowledgement of Country" would be along the following lines:

Quote
The <Insert Show Name Here> company wish to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land we are meeting on, the Whadjuk people. We wish to acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

It is not generally done before performances except where there is some special significance (ie a performance for high level dignitaries as part of a special gathering) or if the performance is of cultural significance. However in these circumstances it is far more common to have a local elder perform a Welcome to Country.

19
I break the build down into 4 types of items, Tasks, Milestones, Dependencies and Deadlines.

Everything is a task. A task can have other tasks as dependencies. A task with dependencies is a milestone.

Deadlines are things like "sitzprobe 6pm on build day 4" or "stage to be clear ready for truck 2 to unload at beginning of day 2." They have a fixed time assigned as part of the schedule

A milestone might be "Ready to lay floor", "ready to build set" and may have dependencies like "LX bar 4 flown out"

Some tasks are just tasks. They can be done at any point - for example comms might be able to be done 'whenever'.

I write a list out by by myself based on what I can forsee, then I sit down with the various heads of department and we run through it. They then pipe up with things like "I need to run a couple of mic lines across before we put the floor down" or "I need an hour to pre-rig before LX comes in". After we have sorted this list out we start to look at timing. Don't get task specific. Milestones are where it is at:
Quote
Lighting, how long will you need to complete everything on LX 4 so that they can start to build the set? 3 hours. Great. Mechs - how long to pre-rig those points? Right. So if we call LX and Mechs at 8am we can start the set build at 11:30? Great. Next milestone is ...

Handling deadlines is the same sort of thing.

Then there is just a matter of juggling a few things around to try and avoid having departments standing around with nothing to do. Again, don't bog yourself down to the task level - don't even note any small little tasks that are not time dependant - as that is up to the relevant HoD to manage. Identify the milestone tasks, their dependent tasks and the deadlines. Stick times on the milestones and the deadlines and list the dependant tasks before the milestones. Add in crew calls and you have a schedule.

If you want something to assist you - have a look at Gannt chart software - there are a bunch of free ones on line - or there are the big players like Microsoft Project.

20
"Hey x... Please take this as it is intended, but can you please try to avoid calling me on a Monday - unless you need something urgently sorted for Tuesday? I am a bit sensitive about my time off at the moment because life is a bit hectic. I am happy for you to contact performers directly if you need to deal with an issue regarding illnesses and absence and just send me a summary after the fact - that will probably make your life easier as well. Let me know if you need me to provide an updated contact list to you"

Be honest, and just express it. Without knowing your producer, they probably think they are doing the right thing keeping you in the loop.

21
Tools of the Trade / Re: Asset Tracking
« on: Jan 31, 2018, 01:25 am »
For consumables, you should not need a database. Excel is more than sufficient.

Generally how I have always run a consumables store is with a table set out with the following columns: Description, Order Qty, PAR, then a number of pairs of columns with dates for consumable counts (SOH 07/10/17 for example) and order quantities. You can then do a third and fourth column to auto-calculate a new total and usage in the period if you want to do some analytics

Process goes like this: Write down all of your consumables and the order quantity ("box (24)" if it comes in a box of 24, "ea" if they are individual, "roll (300')" for things like sash) then establish a PAR level. How often do you want to count and re-order - the more often you count, the less stock you need to keep on hand. Monthly tends to work for many places. Work out your average usage a month - then multiply by 2. That would be your PAR level. Each month, count your consumables. Order up to your par level using your order quantity (handily in the second column of your sheet). Basically it always gives you a months consumables in reserve to account for seasonability. Using the data you gather you can also adjust your PAR levels and fine tune things.

There is also option B  which I call the hoarding method. Order a quantity of every item, and place it somewhere where only a limited number of people have access. Any time you take an item out of that place, order another.

And finally there is option C - I know in Australia there is a company that modified food vending machines to dispense consumables - it dials 'home' and this company then comes and tops you up once the level gets low... you could always try something like that if money is no object.

22
It largely depends on the company -

If I am working for a company where I know everyone will be using Outlook with corporate email, I will generally put reports straight into the email, because I know the formatting will hold up. It means that people can then search etc. It is just convenient.

If I am working for a company where everyone is a contractor, I send the report as a PDF and any key action points in the body.

This is not just rehearsal reports, this is any reporting - even when I had to do profitability or P&L reporting - I give the summary in the body so that those that don't really care about the nitty gritty can go "Okay, cool, we are $1.50 above budget!" or "Oh... we are a bit behind, maybe I will stop stealing boxes of gaffa tape and taking them home this month"

23
Tools of the Trade / Re: Improvised com system?
« on: Oct 18, 2017, 04:48 pm »
I would certainly not recommend unity to a community theatre (there are some execptions, not many though) - the cost of unity is on par with wired comms - it needs a good wifi infrastructure and someone to administer it. I provided it's link mainly to show that yes, it can be done... but just because it is using commodity hardware there is still a degree of expense there.

That said, it is another tool that some people may have use for.

24
Tools of the Trade / Re: Improvised com system?
« on: Oct 18, 2017, 03:09 am »
I would be surprised if there are any reliable phone apps- for one, you're going to have cues that are late if someone's service is bad. You can also use cheap walkie talkies, but they are really not well suited for this.

There is actually a really good phone based coms system - Unity. It is IP based - and you can either cloud host or run the server on an apple computer) so you can use wifi and they sell a range of accessories (like propper headsets and a little bluetooth push-to-talk button). We've used the cloud version for multi-site realtime co-ordination and it is really reliable.

25
Which will give you the better education? Don't just go to Philly because it is out of town. Once you are working you can do that any time. If you do believe Philly will give you the better opportunities and experience, then you need to weigh that cost up against the value of those opportunities.

It could be fear that is giving you doubts - I am assuming that by going to a state school you will still have your existing support network (parenty and friends) available to you - and that won't exist if you go interstatte. I don't know the US college system well (apart from the hollywood version) however it appears that many are sort of geared towards establishing independant support networks for their students - so maybe look into that to reassure yourself - what support would be available if you moved to Philly.

There is no right or wrong answer really. If you are going to be really uncomfortable without your support network at home and excessively financially burdened - go to a state school. If you can afford to go to Philly, and it is all you have ever wanted, it will give you the opportunities you desire, then go to Philly. Long term you can get wherever you want to be through hard work. Without a crystal ball, no one can say what would work out right for you, but somewhere inside you know what you want to do. Just don't trust the surface fears and excitement, it will take some time to mull.

26
Tools of the Trade / Re: Improvised com system?
« on: Mar 03, 2017, 11:19 pm »
Almost any sound hire company (or av company) should be able to hire you comms - and they are generally not too expensive. If you need wireless comms, that is a bit more expensive but also generally hireable.

If 2 way communication is required then there really is no substitute.

27
Employment / Re: Listing Multiple Seasons on a Resume
« on: Feb 26, 2017, 10:12 pm »
Company Name - City
YearStart-YearEnd - Company Stage Manager, Summer Season

I have always been against the "big long list of shows" resume, preferring instead to tailor the resume to the job with a few highlights that apply to the position I am applying for.

Before my current role I used to have 30-100 resumes cross my desk a month (or rather in my inbox). Now I don't like to judge a book by its cover, however I would decide whether to read a resume based almost entirely over what it looked like when it opened in Acrobat Reader zoomed to show the full page. Not too long (know what I am interested in and give me that detail, unless there is a horse in the show, I don't care that you were a horse trainer for 6 months prior to college), not too cluttered, well formatted, no redundant headings (a sure sign of padding).

When I saw a big chunk of artistic credits I would read the first 2. If they didn't interest me I might not even continue on - or I might jump to the bottom to read the last one or two and then go straight to the next section - I am sure you can see the problem with listing chronologically here - I saw all the early stuff - hardly most peoples greatest works.

The few I really liked had "Career Highlights" and then attached a full history as a separate document. I never opened the full history - but during interviews I frequently asked them why the shows listed were career highlights; what made them pick those 3 or 4 shows - it helped me (as an interviewer) engage with the applicant. They were not necessarily the biggest shows they had worked on all the time, but rather ones that they felt passionate about. Essentially they took the opportunity to take control of the interview and get me to ask them questions about shows they could be positive about. As an interviewer, I was fine with that.

It provided talking points that helped me identify whether the things that this person picked as a highlight of their career would be present in the position I was potentially going to offer. It also helped me to target what they didn't say - you liked the team, well have you ever worked on a show with a team you didn't like - how did you handle it. The show was really complex and technical and it kept you engaged for the entire 6 month run? Well have you worked on many shows without a strong technical element that was an extended run? How did you fight the tedium to stay engaged? You really enjoy the classics (Sondheim, G&S, ALW, Willie Shakespere)? Well how up to date are you with new Australian works?

I guess the tldr; Employment history does not have to be a giant list of shows and positions. Something like being employed for full seasons should absolutely be represented somewhere but reconsider the long list of shows - or whether it is necessary to be included in the main body of your resume - in fact a regular recurring gig like summer season CSM could be just a highlight of your career (enjoy developing a relationship with a company, integrating with their culture etc etc etc).

28
With needle or without?

Most syringes can attach to plastic tube (IV line) - so depending on costume, could could secrete an IV bag with a short bit of tubing running to the ear - provided the actor can use two hands (one to hid the action whilst assisting with the connection). That is one option.

With a needle - I would suggest palming a milk creamer - contents replaced with your blood substitute and re-sealed with tape. Actor 'restrains' the head with one hand (with the creamer palmed), plunges the syringe into the top of the creamer and holds on to the base of the syringe with the hand with the creamer then draws the plunger. Just make sure the needle is not longer than the creamer (cut it down if need be)

I have always found magicians/magic shops to be a great place for solutions requiring some trickery - there is probably an off the shelf syringe that can do something similar to this trick too.

29
Stage Management: Plays & Musicals / Re: Hanging an actor....
« on: Jun 06, 2016, 05:24 am »
If the actor MUST be visible and hanging himself... engage professionals. zfx, foys or similar.

If you have a director open to something a bit sillier... perhaps you can fake it - like a projected silhouette where the rope is cut and the actor falls out from bellow where the silhouette dropped. It is theatre, suspension of disbelief is part of that.

A stunt master once told me - you never put a rope around someones neck unless you plan to hang them - for realsies.

 

30
Tools of the Trade / Re: Stage Management Software
« on: Mar 09, 2016, 09:15 am »
The biggest issue I have with a lot of these solutions coming out now is they are "cloud based" or require connection to an external server under a SaaS model (Software as a Service).

Problem with that is you are completely reliant on the service provider existing into the future. The software is probably hosted on Amazon AWS or Google Compute - so I am not worried about poor service - Amazon AWS or Google Compute scales really nicely, they log in, click a button and can double the memory or processing available. I am worried that the developer will get bored, or the business model is messed up and mid run, bang, service down. I am all for using cloud providers for infrastructure, but to be reliant on (generally) small operations keeping their software up gives me the jeebies.

I really wish these companies would move more towards providing either self-deployable images for AWS or Compute, or would deploy individual instances and direct-bill the AWS instance to you - at least that way if they go down, you still have full access to the AWS instance and can keep it up until you are done with it.

I guess my 2c for those out there - ask the question before you commit to a subscription based cloud service - what happens if they go belly up?


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