Author Topic: CALLING: Board ops doing other things during a show?  (Read 18034 times)

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Mac Calder

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Question for all the SMs out there
« Reply #15 on: Jan 29, 2006, 03:55 am »
Simple:

Me: Stand by LX 3.
(NOTHING)
Me: Stand by LX 3, confirm.
LX: Standing by.
Me: LX3 go.

Me: Stand by LX4
(NOTHING)
Me: Stand by LX4, confirm
LX: Standing by.
Me: LX4 go.

Me: Stand by LX5
LX: Standing by
Me: LX5 go.

I tested it today. My board op came up to me afterwards and asked me not to request confirmation for standbys. This was a board op I had asked numerous times to give me a confirmation before. I explained my reasons, and basically presented the exact same argument I had used before, and basically stated that under another SM, they can sort it out, but whilst I am running a show, I like to make sure my ops are on the same page. He told me he would do it, I thanked him, and the matter appears to be solved.

giabow

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Question for all the SMs out there
« Reply #16 on: Jan 29, 2006, 10:42 am »
I don't get it.  Why would it even occur to a board op that not confirming a standby is an okay thing to do? When I say stand by (or warning or whatever) my board op is to confirm.  Period, end of story.  Its part of the job.  In any other job, if your supervisor tells you to do something, you do it or you're fired.

Or am I just too hard?

hbelden

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the essential problem
« Reply #17 on: Jan 29, 2006, 11:52 am »
We're called managers, but we don't have hiring/firing capability over anyone.  Sometimes we have approval/veto power over our ASMs, but that's mostly just a formality.  The lucky PSMs in the country who get to hire their own ASMs are few and far between, and I don't think they have hire/fire power over anyone else in the company.  All the power and authority we have is a matter of courtesy and custom, no more.   If I were to go to many producers and say, "This board op isn't doing what I consider to be his job, I want you to fire him," the producer would say, "He agreed to do the run and I don't want to search for someone to replace him.  Work it out."

The good part about this is that it forces us to solve problems in a non-confrontational way (which is something "managers" in other fields really need to learn how to do).  The bad thing is that if we have a recalcitrant crewperson or actor, a problem we don't know how to solve, we have to appeal to our supervisors - who may or may not be supportive.  In the end, our "authority" is shown to be a mirage and we lose control over the rest of the show as well.
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Heath Belden

"I'm not good, I'm not nice, I'm just right." - Sondheim
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MatthewShiner

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my 2 cents
« Reply #18 on: Jan 29, 2006, 12:18 pm »
Okay, I am just wondering what the real problem is here.

I don't get confirmations from my standbys, except from the deck crew . . . (because they need to physically move from one place to another), otherwise I expect the board operator to be ready.  I tend to do some very busy shows, and counting 8 or 9 standbys  would be kind of tedious and in the end, probably obtrusive to my calling the show.  Often, the sound operator, who is either right in front of an open window or mixing in the house, canít give standbys.  My LX operator sits within eyesight, I can see his hand move to the button.

The original question seemed to be about board operators being on computers, reading, etc . . . which, quite frankly, I think for 2 Ĺ hours a night you should pay attention to the show, but I know how hard it is to watch the show over and over and over and over again.  I find in my experience itís better if the board operator is not watching the show all the time.  They should go into stand by, take a cue, watch the cue execute and then what they do after that until the entire process starts over again is really none of my business.  So, I donít care if they are reading a book, reading online, etc, etc. What is important is that the cues are taken on my ďgoĒ and they are.

I think if the situation warrants a response to the standby, then the SM should request it.  If the SM just kind of is demanding a response for the heck of it, it may seem a little like a power trip, and that should probably be avoided.
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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.

DAE

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Question for all the SMs out there
« Reply #19 on: Jan 29, 2006, 02:42 pm »
Hi All,

I tend to agree with Matthew on this. However, I also tend to change the way I do things depending on the crew I have. When I am with an IA crew, I usually never ask for confirmations. If I am with a student crew, I do ask for confirmations, but even then I usually only ask for Deck and Rail. The difference is that with the IA you have people responsible to do a certain job where with a non-union or student crew they might be doing several (i.e. going to the rail for a cue then back to the deck) so it is important to check in with them. If it is a really green crew, I ask for confirmations from everyone. As a freelancer, I tend to adjust more to my space then ask them to adjust to me - as long as things are working.

That aside, I personally believe that is is very important for a good stage manager to pick their battles. If you have a crew member who is on the internet while running the light board and has never missed a cue, is that really a battle you need to fight? It is definetly not the ideal situation, but you might gain more resentment then results.

However, If they are missing cues or are late on things, then I would talk with them about it.

My Two Cents...

Lindsay

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Question for all the SMs out there
« Reply #20 on: Jan 31, 2006, 11:07 pm »
For the last couple of shows I have worked on , I have been able to maintain the standard that crosswords, etc. (nothing rowdy or distruptive) are OK, but once the standby is given, all eyes are on the stage (or sound board, etc.).  I've been able to establish this pretty well, but some board ops - just like any employees - need a heavier hand than others.  
Take for example, the last show I worked on where the sound board op occasionally read or did crosswords and still rarely missed a beat, but the light board operator ..... well let's just say that once she realized the leash had some slack, she ran with it.  Cleaning out your purse in the booth doesn't exactly get on my good side.

Although, I was only to find out later that she was coming to work high anyways.....

I take it on a case by case.
Lindsay Miller
AEA Stage Manager

erin

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Question for all the SMs out there
« Reply #21 on: Feb 21, 2006, 11:02 pm »
As i see it, only stage management is being paid to watch the show and pay attention to everything happening on stage at all times.

My ops have their personal laptops with ethernet connections in the booth, in addition to books, crossword puzzles, sudoko, whatever keeps them awake between cues.  As long as the cues are taken when called, not taken when not called, and my occasional "has that always looked like that?" questions promptly answered, the job is being done.

I kindly request that all cellphones in the booth be muted.  Common courtesy.  I don't care that the booth is sound proofed, no one wants to hear the muppets theme song during an intense scene.

Mac Calder

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Question for all the SMs out there
« Reply #22 on: Feb 22, 2006, 04:07 am »
Quote from: "erin"

I kindly request that all cellphones in the booth be muted.  Common courtesy.  I don't care that the booth is sound proofed, no one wants to hear the muppets theme song during an intense scene.


Phones OFF. Period. If a relo or someone needs to contact a member of the company, they can usually call the theatre and leave a message - and the FOH manager should be able to contact the SM, and the SM can contact whoever needs to be contacted, or if there is no cans system, FOH can run the message. And one thing I stress - If it is not a life and death problem, call afer the show or during interval.

When on wired cans, mobiles tend to cause ear aches for the ops (pulsing from heartbeat signal from towers). Even without wired cans - phones off. I ask for no more than I ask from the audience or myself - and considering about 20% of my anual work comes from mobile calls made between 7 and 10pm at night, well I often wish I could have had my phone on at shows. But I keep it off. The wonders of message bank.

SingingPixie

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Question for all the SMs out there
« Reply #23 on: Feb 24, 2006, 01:39 pm »
I think it really depends on the show... I board op'd a show last summer where I literally had 40 mins between cues in the second act... and in a show that runs a month and a half, I finished quite a few books. Other shows are just too busy. I think the rule about "no activities in standby" is good, as long as the op has shown that they are on top of things, sound ops pre-set cues ahead of time, etc. If there has been a problem where cues are missed/almost missed, then the distractions need to stop.

Mac Calder

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Question for all the SMs out there
« Reply #24 on: Feb 24, 2006, 04:38 pm »
I am 99.999678% sure there was a topic on this just a few weeks ago, if that. Quite a long topic.

smejs

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Question for all the SMs out there
« Reply #25 on: Feb 26, 2006, 01:28 pm »
Quote
I am 99.999678% sure there was a topic on this just a few weeks ago, if that. Quite a long topic.


Yes, the original poster posted the question twice in this same forum.  Go to the "General Stage Management" forum and look for the OTHER thread titled "Question for all the SMs out there" (the one with multiple pages).

Erin

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Question for all the SMs out there
« Reply #26 on: Feb 26, 2006, 11:57 pm »
As long as it does not interfear with the work I have neer had a problem letting my board opts play on their laptop or gameboys.
Cat Ruben

SingingPixie

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Question for all the SMs out there
« Reply #27 on: Mar 16, 2006, 01:39 pm »
It seems like there's three topics being discussed here now.
1) the original: I agree about choosing your battles. a board op who's seen the show a million times isn't going to want to watch it again- I'd much rather he read a book than start chatting and distracting me. Of course if the person isn't fulfilling his duties then we'll have to have a discussion, but it's part of my responsibility to give standbys so that the ops know when to give their undivided attention to the show.
2) Responses to standbys- it's definitely a case-by-case thing with me. If I can see you, I really don't need a response. If you're accustomed to confirming and I don't have a bunch of talking going on, fine. I'd much rather you say "lights" than "lights standing by, thank you" though- the one word gets it across just fine. For deck cues I like to have a standby if it involves a lot of people having to get into place- especially if the deck crew might be a bit flaky. I had a 2nd ASM backstage once that I needed to have confirm everything because he kept falling asleep on headset. It all depends on the show and the people and situations involved. And in any case, if I ask you to respond I have a reason, so I expect the crew to comply with the request.
3) Cell Phones- Why in the world would anyone answer a cell during a show? If your grandmother is on her deathbed, come talk to me- I'll let you put it on silent and if there's a convienient way, step out to return the call if the show won't suffer. But generally, cell phones on the job are unacceptable. I don't even like it when crews answer while in a lift hanging lights- it just feels unprofessional to me. Focus on what you're doing and check your voicemail on break.

groovygert

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Question for all the SMs out there
« Reply #28 on: Mar 21, 2006, 01:44 pm »
depending on the show i usually don't have a problem with them doing other things. esp on those long lolls where there is nothign to do but watch i show they've seen over and over and over again. as long as they pay attention when needed (i usually have warnings written in), since i'm usually in the booth with them it isn't a problem.

Staylor

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Question for all the SMs out there
« Reply #29 on: Mar 30, 2006, 02:59 am »
Theme Day on Headsets!

I had a show where I needed the crew to give me a lot of visual cues, so I kept them involved in the show (in the long time between their own cues) by creating theme days. One example is Chinese Fortune Day, where I challenged them to add "in bed" to the end of an actor's line to make it funny. The only rules are that the line couldn't already have a double-entendre, and that there is NO talking on headsets during any standby. It kept us all involved in every line of the play (which led to the discovery of some problems with set and audience that could be headed off), and all listening well enough to not talk over any standbys.

On the last show cues were fewer and far between, so I just adjusted the standby times to accommodate putting the crosswords down and still having time to check levels before the cue. And always get a "standing by," even if they're standing right next to you, so that you know they're not still trying to think of a four-letter word for "Ohio lake."

 

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