Most places that host tours of any size will be union shops. Check into Local 1, or better yet stay in Boston and do some underhire work there - it will probably be easier to get work in a smaller town unless you know someone already in the local. Look up IATSE
and contact them, for advice on how to do so. Working with the union will also at least hopefully give you points towards getting your card. It's working up to be a really busy summer so overhire
work is very likely to be busy.
That's given you want to get experience that way as house
staff. Chances are at least until the end at best it is going to be set up crew only and pushing boxes.
You will learn the in and out of the trenches, plus will be on the crew for the show, but still not really be a part of it. I don't know how many locals really get picked up by a tour, I think that's more of a small time tour thing to get picked up or fable in how to make it. You can impress the production manager
and crew members, but it's usually safer to just hire from the known pool of them. Plus change once on the tour is a bad thing.
The employees on tour with a show work directly for the company providing the gear. They do not really hire people on the road
because those doing the hiring are not those on tour. It is possible to work as a free lance tech person for a company doing the tour, but for that you had at best already have an established name for yourslf which means lots of prior tours and having worked for one of the large say 5 or 10 companies to be accepted as a hire on/contractor employee. Those are more the people that get picked up for a tour or that are requested on the show by it's management. To that it's who you know, how they know your use and it's all planned out well before the tour leaves the shop.
If a tour needs someone it normally comes from the ready and already known crew at the shop or off another tour. 3/4's of the tech people I work with are out on shows more than they are home and it's infrequent but still the norm that they will be pulled off another tour, end one and head right onto the next, or the newer crew person that shows promiss in the shop will be sent out with the show. Last week touring with James Taylor, this week with Metallica. Same show different singer, but the same base
group for each company.
The question is where you want to go this summer and in the future? Is this a question of being happy doing shows on the club level
, perhaps traveling in the van pulling the gear trailer or did you want to be the VeriLight tech on the next FooFighter's tour on the bus following the semi trucks, or flying to each show? Nothing wrong with either but thre are different ways to achieve either position on the crew.
Experience is the key no matter if it's from being house
staff, shop labor from a ma and pop lighting/party company to just applying to the big companies and working in the shop until you are ready. Normally I would say it's at least 4 to six months before your first show, than at least 9 to a year if ever before your first real tour - popping your cherry.
Of people we hire, it's a mixture of all types of people's experience. I for instance cited house
staff as my primary experience with lighting - plus the degree and design/TD work, than some time with a smaller lighting company. Others have worked for smaller companies to gain
experience - especially as the best of the best from those companies, some even still do the small club work on the side, than transferred to the big bucks place once they gained the basics from the smaller place. Still more are fresh out of college or even high school. They put their time in at the shop, learn some stuff and if it works out right they also end up on tour. Any transfer people from other areas of experience, unless known to have direct similar experience with a similar sized company will start out in the shop for a time from my observation. It's just those with experience most likely will not stay in the shop as long.
It's kind of similar to school lighting, light board is a responsibility and reward. The new person to the crew most likely is not going to be given it as a reward. They have to put in their time just like everyone else. As summer work, you will sling
cable, prep gear or install shows, but I would not expect to be doing a huge amount of the real work until at best the end, unless the shop is really small.
Summer work on such such tours would be limited to your aptitude and you as a person. Chances are you might be able to run a show as house
staff or in a smaller company, but unless really good - to the extreme (be realistic now) you will be lucky to get on one install for a convention or something similar if small just pulling the feeder
for it. Next year, even during vacations from school, if you have the ability and time in the trenches already served you might get the shows, and during the summer it's possible to get you out on a real tour but it's dependant upon the person and not the norm. That about assumes breaking up that four months into smaller bits and being the type of person they want to get out on tour during this time.
So large shop work will be the necessity in my opinion for getting out on the large tour, but don't expect to get on the tour without a lot of time and effort. More than one summer might allow. Lots of people in line
ahead of you. Smaller tours or house
staff is perhaps a better option given that's your goal of the running crew
By the way, start applying now because touring season much less planning for it and hiring people for it starts in the next month or two. Perhaps even offer to give your spring break to the perspective employeer as a trial. Should be for pay though you might ask minimum wage, but some smaller shops might find free labor perhaps for class credit appealing.
Note: I don't want to nor have I toured. I have worked the local, traveled to installs etc
. but I'm support staff and like the 9 to 5. I know a lot of touring people and speak with them every day however.
On the other hand
, Wolf is a tour person and I await his own thoughts on it amongst other tour and shop people.