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School Interview Project, need your help

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by Joshthejester, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. Joshthejester

    Joshthejester New Member

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    Hello to all who are reading this, my name is Joshua Guindon and with the help of two others Jennifer Hare and Melissa Molnar we are working on a university project that has us asking professional stage managers they're opinions and tactics on certain issues. Our topic is two fold:

    General topic head line: Demanding Directors/Directors who don’t understand deadlines
    Questions: Have you in your career worked with a Director who demanded everything and wanted everything “right now”? If so, how did you handle that situation?
    Have you in your career worked with a Director who just didn’t understand the deadlines for adding or subtracting i.e. set pieces, props, or costumes from the show? What is the best advice you have to offer if you come across a Director like this?

    This assignment is for 3 student at the university of Windsor and my partners and i would be greatly beneficial by any and all comments and reponses we receive. I am uncertain as to how this works with responses but if u wish to respond you can either do so on this thread or to my university email account guindonj@uwindsor.ca I hope to hear from a lot of you.
    thank you for your time and consideration.

    Joshua Guindon
  2. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    I don't do theater but I deal with clients who can be demanding and worse, unreasonable. When it happens, I calmly list all the steps needed to accomplish a task and ask them if they think any steps can be omitted in order to accomplish the task/change. Once I get that "no, you have to do it that way" I overestimate the time it will take and then make them happy it took less. I never tell them, no, it can't be done. If I treat them with more respect than they deserve, I usually get a fair amount back.
  3. mstaylor

    mstaylor Well-Known Member Departed Member

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    That is excellent advice from len. I have dealt with directors that think they can demand and it happens. I have always been straightforward when dealing with them. If I can gibe them something right away, fine but if it requires time I will give them a timeline and try to beat it. I have been in the theatre side for many years but I am also in the concert touring side also. Many times it is the promoters that get unreasonable.
  4. Joshthejester

    Joshthejester New Member

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    thank you both for your responses, i was hoping to get a few more but it seems unlikely, your insight helped my project, and i thank you :)
  5. jessamarie6

    jessamarie6 Member

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    First you need to pick you battles. With directors who demand too much it is often really easy to get frustrated and start saying no to any last minute or ridiculous request. If you do put up a wall those directors will just start to look at you as someone who is trying to avoid work or doesn't want to help, as opposed to someone who works hard, but has limited time, money and resources. You will find that if you put an honest effort into granting a last minute request every once in a while, the offending director will start to understand when you honestly explain how you do not have the time/money/manpower to complete other requests (this might take some time with particularly difficult directors, but they all eventually come around).

    And if that doesn't work it always comes down to money. Go to the money person (producer, managing director...), tell them how much it will cost and watch them race to tell the director no.
  6. Sayen

    Sayen Active Member

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    A lot depends on the personality of the director. If you can figure out where they are coming from, you can change your approach to their demands. An 'artistic' director, who has an artist personality, was probably an actor or dancer in a previous career, likely has no idea why their demands are troublesome. Someone from a theater or field where they are used to being waited on hand and foot (say, business exec type job, or wealthy child) has different reasons for their demands. Explaining why something is difficult sometimes works, if they actually want to listen. More often than not I find that the director doesn't care what the reason is, they just want things done. In that case, you either have to find a solid way to say no, or accommodate them. Saying no is not a bad thing in this field, and if the director is inexperienced from a technical standpoint it's often necessary.

    Having things in writing is a good step. When I worked for a professional production company we had a policy of no changes less than two weeks into a performance. We would still try to accommodate requests, but we had the out if necessary.

    I'm sure this will draw some criticism, but if you're smart and know your job it's often possible to 'fake' meeting the client's request, if they won't know the difference - but only if they really won't know the difference. Fifteen minutes before a show a client swore up and down that we needed additional monitors in a weird location. They didn't need them, and we did not have the capability to run signal, so we placed dummy monitors in position, just speakers with no signal. The director and performers couldn't tell the difference, and the show went on happily. It's not my favorite way to do business, but part of my job is making the director/client feel happy, which makes everyone elses life easier. Arguing with the director would not have helped, nor would 'educating' them by dragging them out and demonstrating the uselessness of the additional speakers.

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