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desperate to find an answer!

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by keer, Apr 27, 2009.

  1. keer

    keer Member

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    I have been searching the web for a long time now, and finally decided to just post on a forum in a desperate search for some answers.

    First of all let me just say that i have limited background in Theatre Tech
    i am however seriously considering taking a 2 year diploma course in it. the only problem is that i have no idea what the job market is like out there (im from canada fyi) and i have no idea what the average salaries are, or how any of it works. all i know is i love being backstage. if i can make a career out of it, well that would just be amazing..

    anyone who can help this newb out , i would INCREDIBLY appreciate it. i looked online for job postings in Theatre tech, but i couldn't find anything.
    searching through these forums i can tell that everyone has a lot of experience.
    please bestow some of your knowledge onto this poor uninformed pre-college girl.
     
  2. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Hi, First off welcome to CB. I moved your post out of the new member forum to the Management and Development forum (where work sorts of topics are discussed). You should get more responses here.

    However before we attempt to answer your question let me ask you to answer a question.

    What sort of things in tech theater do you want to do? There are a WIDE variety of jobs in tech theater. With Wages varying from minimum wage (or less) to a limited number of top designers and business owners who do VERY well. Without knowing what type of work you want to do it's impossible to answer.

    The other question is where do you want to live and do this work? If you are dead set on staying in a small Canadian town, you are going to have a very hard time making any money at all. If you are willing to move to New York, Vegas, or L.A. you'll have very good odds of find a job that you can make a good living at.

    Finally take a look at this article written by a couple of our old pros. It's paints a very realistic picture of what life is like and what it takes to get a job in the industry... it's not the most encouraging thing you'll ever read, but it's got a lot of truth in it. Trying to get a career in tech theater is a lot like trying to become a professional actor. You MUST love it with all your heart and be willing to sacrifice a lot for a while. If you are good eventually you will work your way up and make a decent living but the path will be difficult starting out.

    So again where are you willing to live? What is your dream job you would be shooting for? I'm sure when you answer those questions others will respond and help you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2009
  3. cprted

    cprted Active Member

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    Welcome to Control Booth! Always nice to have more Canadians making their way on here.

    Canada is a big place and it is hard to make generalities. Big T.O. is obviously the cultural centre of the (Anglophone) nation and there is tonnes of stuff going on there. Montreal is also very busy theatre wise, though the language of business is predominantly french. Winnipeg also has a vibrant theatre scene. Out my way, Vancouver, in spite of really not being a "theatre town," is very busy and is very short on technicians.

    To start your journey, you may want to see if there are any theatres in your area where you could do some volunteer work. Most theatres are delighted to take on free labour and its a good way to get a taste of the industry, start to meet people, and figure out what you like to do.

    I'd also start contemplating school (though the deadline for the 09/10 school year has already gone by). There are a few other Canadians that can give you school tips once you have an idea about which area you'd like to specialize in.

    Again, welcome. As you have questions, feel free to fire away with them.
     
  4. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    Interesting. Over the years I've tried volunteering with a number of area community theatre groups and without exception they've been happy to take donations or have you stuff envelopes but apparently had no interest in tech volunteers (although some really needed it). They all seemed excited when I first talked to them but I never heard from them again, including one group for which the offer was made via a letter from one of their board members. I even tried multiple times to volunteer to assist with the tech systems design for one local theatre restoration and received not a single response. Maybe I should have sent them a proposal instead, perhaps if I put a dollar value on my services they would have then seen some value in the offer.
     
  5. cprted

    cprted Active Member

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    It does depend on the theatre and applicable collective agreements. There are a lot of companies north of the 49th, especially in smaller towns, that have a core of paid professional staff and rely on slave labour ... errr ... "technical volunteers" (often keener high school kids) to make up the rest of the crew. As with anything in this industry, knowing someone already in the company who can vouch for you goes a long way, even in cases where you are willing to work for free.
     
  6. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    [user]museav[/user], maybe you're just not qualified enough.:twisted: Or more likely, over-qualified. I've found some Community Theatre groups to be quite cliquey, protective of their territory, and un-welcoming of "outsiders." (Not directed at Brad): As with most endeavors, one must prove oneself, and be perseverent, even for a volunteer position.

    keer, as [user]gafftaper[/user] said, see the Collaborative Article http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/collaborative-articles/9123-getting-job-industry.html. I've added some job-posting sites at the end, but read the whole thing, don't just skip down to those.
     
  7. taneglaus

    taneglaus Member

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    you might also check out local lighting and sound equipment rental companies. it would be ideal to get any type of job with one...get to know people...and when you hear of a show, jump on any opportunities to work on it. as mentioned, you'll have to give up most of your life, esp. night life. theater engineering/tech work is early A.M. to way past midnight.
     
  8. Dionysus

    Dionysus Well-Known Member

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    Where in Canada? It's a BIG country. (I live in Canada).
    I know people work work in various parts of Ontario, and a couple that I've discovered that have migrated to other parts of the country.

    One of the biggest factors is what kind of work you want to do, and if you are willing to travel (alot).

    Anyways, get back and answer some of the posted questions along with anything else you may wish to add.
     
  9. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    My local community theater's policy about volunteers... "If you see the red pickup out back, knock on the shop door and we'll put you to work."

    They are great people and are eager to put you to work and teach you some new skills along the way. I encourage all my students to go spend some time helping out as it's a great way to start networking and experience a variety of different aspects of theater.
     
  10. TheatreTekkie

    TheatreTekkie Member

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    I to am trying to gain a tech career I am looking for hand or sound or light tech/operator. I dont have any formal training, but have been involved with theatre for about 14 years. I live in Indiana but am willing to travel and go where ever I need to. I am off to read the article posted and look foward to the advice given here.
     
  11. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Cutting straight to the point:

    1) You have to somehow acquire a mastery of the skills required to do the job. That may come through a college/university program. It can also come from working your way up within a theater or company with people willing to teach you. Just because you have done it in high school does NOT mean you are prepared for the professional world. Often students think they are ready for the pro world because they were the best tech student in high school. 99.9% of the time that is not true. Most high school theater programs are running gear far less complex than the pro world, most operate in a very unprofessional manner, and most simply don't have the facilities to teach you how to do these things the right way.

    2) If you want to improve your odds of working you need to live somewhere that there are lots of jobs. Best places would be New York, Vegas, and L.A., although there are plenty of other jobs in other major metropolitan cities. Just don't plan to live in the middle of Iowa. If you live in a small town and there is only one theater in a 100 mile drive, it's going to be hard for you to convince them to give you a job at all, forget getting a job that actually pays. In the current economic climate, most theaters have lost donors and they are struggling to survive. Most theaters are currently cutting jobs, not hiring. Wait a while if you can.

    3) You need to get your foot in the door and prove to someone that you know what you are doing and that you are a dependable, hard worker. This often means things like volunteering in community theater, getting a job coiling cable at a rental house, or joining the union and working load-ins at the bottom of the list. It's amazing how many people have connections with others in this industry. Think of every day doing this boring entry level job as an audition for your dream job. You have to work your way up by impressing others with your work. If you screw up this entry level job too much, it's possible that you will never get hired again.

    4) Be patient and Impress everyone. It may take you several years before you get any sort of job offer. During this time work as hard as you can to meet lots of people. Volunteer for any organization you can. The industry is small and people know each other. Your best bet of getting a job at "theater A" is if you did some impressive low level work at "theater b". The T.D.'s know each other and will call, "Hey Bob, I'm thinking of hiring this guy named Jimmy who says he did some work for your summer stock last year. What was he like?" If Bob says, "don't remember him", or worse "yeah he was kind of a know it all" you are not going to get the job. However if Bob says, "That guy was great, he was the first person back on the job when the break was over and always looking for something to do to help out." You are in.

    5) If your dream is to hit the road with a big tour then rule #4 is even more true. Why would a company trust you to care for MILLIONS of dollars of gear if you are straight out of high school or college. You need to get your foot in the door and impress everyone and work your way up.
     
  12. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Derek just found this link and posted about it in another thread. Hopefully it helps.
     
  13. jonliles

    jonliles Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Muse. the Marietta theatres are fools to not want to work with you. I'd love to work with you. Footer, you and I are with in spitting distance of each other.

    Actually today, I am striking from Sprayberry Hi, moving lights (my equip) to a theatre in Acworth for the summer shows.

    PM me, I'd like to least have coffee and meet the "local" techs....
     

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