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Electrician

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Charc, Nov 16, 2007.

  1. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    So my understanding is, maybe I've been WAY wrong, that in entertainment/production an Electrician is synonymous with "The lighting guy". (Or "The guy that's never around when you need him".) Which can cause confusion at times.

    I just called a large concert venue in Philly, as I have been poking around, thinking about things for this summer if my main plan falls through. It took me awhile to even get a number for this place, I finally got a number, spoke to a real person, and had a conversation with a woman who seemed pretty obnoxious / high-on-herself. I asked if it would be possible for me to get in contact with either human resources or their ME (master electrician). She then went on to say something to the effect of:

    "Electrician? We don't have one on the payroll. Like we have a contract with a company."
    (So now I'm thinking, okay, IATSE contract, or something like that.)
    "Oh really, so--"
    "Like, so, what are you trying to do?"
    "I'm trying to get in contact with human resources or master electrician to discuss the possibility of internship or employment."
    "What do you want? Those are two diff'rent things. Like if we have a problem with our power we call someone, we don't like have an electrician around. We have like sound and lighting guys though."
    "Oh, right, sorry. In entertainment production a 'lighting guy' is referred to as an electrician, so--"
    "Um, electrician? No, okay that's totally different that's not even right."
    "Oh okay, well can I get in contact with your 'lighting guy' for an internship--"
    "We don't like do internships in this building. The internships are like during the summer, and like for like when we book like administrative stuff, not like stuff in the building."
    "Oh, okay... nevermind. Bye."
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2007
  2. Drmafreek

    Drmafreek Active Member

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    Yes, I would say that this woman did not have the lingo down. The way I've been able to differentiate for laymen is the theatre version is called the theatre electrician, while the "real" electrician is referred to as the facilities electrician. That too can be problematic at times, but I've found that helps people who don't know a lot about theatre.
     
  3. punktech

    punktech Active Member

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    i'd say call back or go into the venue's offices. i HIGHLY doubt that they hire only administrative interns. if they hire any kind of intern they hire tech interns too. i actually had this problem with NTI (specifically the O'Niell(sp) campus). a recruiter came into my college last year and i asked him if there were tech internships available during the summer and he said no. another recruiter (this time a woman that was by far more knowledgeable about tech than the guy) came this year and was supposed to send me info, but alas i have gotten anything from her in weeks, so i'm gonna e-mail her again. it's NTI, Circ, or Williamstown Theatre Festival for me this summer.
     
  4. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Odds are they contract out to a production company for their stage techs, they could also contract out to IA, whatever it may be. Many venues will do this and put the burdin of getting people and paying people on the production company and the production company will get payed a lump some for the gig. Also, in the R&R biz the person you are trying to talk to is rarely ever called a Master Electrician (its a dying term anyway...). Most of the time they are either a lighting director or head electrican. These are both seperate jobs, but sometimes combined. Also, if this is a larger venue that has shows coming through regulary, you will want to talk to the house electrician. I would stay away from contacting the venues directly for tech work because odds are the people that you will talk to really don't have a clue as to what is going on onstage. Call the local rental houses/production companys. Even calling the local sound companys and asking "who is in charge of lighitng at such a such venue" will help. Usually the sound companys are much "localer" then the lighting companies.
     
  5. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Why not just "shape up" for work at the IA Union Hall in Philly. I'm sure there's plenty of work during the summer.

    I did it in NYC for Local 1 and got plenty of work back in '72.
     
  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I know the big theater in town here is a union house and thus they have very strict rules about interns doing tech work (If an intern does the job for next to nothing that's taking away from the paid work of a union member). They are allowed some tech interns for summer stock but even then its very strictly regulated. Most interns there are administrative. You might try calling the local union office and asking for a list of Union houses and then approach the theaters NOT on the list about internships.
     
  7. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Gaff has a very good point. Many venues that are "concert venues," or road houses that bring in touring shows are, more often than not, union venues. Also, Most venues that bring in touring rock shows or theatre productions don't have a full time tech staff. The show brings it's crew with it, and then they hire what they need from the local union or non union pool depending on what they need. If you are looking for internships in theatre, you should look into local summer stock houses. If you are looking into R&R internships, well that is going to be tougher.
     
  8. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Agreed, you would be amazed how many 18 year olds with shiny new wrenches show up for calls. Give your local union a call, it can't hurt... and you can make some pretty good cash.
     
  9. fosstech

    fosstech Active Member

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    That's what I did this summer when I wasn't working for the production company. It's some pretty good money for a college student at least. I was making about $25/hr doing load ins and outs for stuff in Seattle. Did a couple things for Microsoft at a couple hotels downtown among other things.
     
  10. Jezza

    Jezza Active Member

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    Yes, but didn't you have a shiny new c-wrench at age 18 too? I know what you mean though, there definitely is that group of young, inexperienced stage hands on every call who are just there to say they worked a rock and roll show.

    Charc -- I started working non-union houses in the Hudson Valley 2 years ago, doing a mix of Rock n' Roll and theater (I'm 17 now). Through the non-union houses, you'll always meet a bunch of union guys who, if you are competent enough, will be more than happy to get you on some union calls at union venues for over-hire. I don't have my card yet, but last night I worked the load out for Dave Matthews at West point which is a union house.

    I guess the moral of the story is to just put yourself out there, annoy the hell out of people until they hire you, blow them away with how mature and talented you are and you'll keep ascending that ladder.
     
  11. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    If you want to communicate you got to speak their language.

    If I'm not standing on a deck talking to another hand, I say "who's in charge of hiring people who set up the SHOW and CONCERT LIGHTING?"

    Granted, people in the biz should have a grasp on the terminology, but large venues like say the Spectrum in Philly, they might be a nepotism hire, or a city employee, or who knows.

    Call the union. And keep after different people. And network. I just started getting calls at a local venue. Took me 2 years to find out who to call, and another 6 months before they put me on the first show. Didn't help that my second cousin was a projectionist for 30 years and was a good friend of the steward.
     
  12. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Well, calling the box office is not going to get you far. It would be more productive to call the business office if you can get the number, usually the secretary or whoever answers the phone would know more people in the theatre. The people in the box office live in, well, a box.

    As for weekend work, realistic, yes, but theatres are always going to take people with more open schedules first. I would happily hire a high school student like you, but if you told me you could only work on Friday and Saturday it makes you a lot less useful. Now, if I didn't have to pay you, that is a different story, I would say, come when you can, but if I have seven paid positions to fill, it is more beneficial to me to have seven people who can be at ever call.

    One lead that no one has mentioned is calling your local dealers. Many companies, like High Output and Barbizon and many others provide gear and crew for local events. They often have a call list that you can get on, or internships you could get. Both of the local dealers here in SLC have divisions that do those types of things, I would imagine that in Philly you could find companies who do that.

    Also, if you have any interest in TV, you should look into a company called VideoLink. They have a facility in Philly, and it is home to VLT1 - "CHEESESTEAK," one of four satellite trucks. They often offer internships. (10 points to anyone who can figure out why I recommend this company)

    Hope that helps a little.
     
  13. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    What I mean is that someone got a job at a venue because they're related to someone, not because they know anything. In Chicago, it's called patronage. Or clout, although that's really the wrong usage. The idea is especially common in politically connected jobs. I need to stay in office, or a job. So I hire as many of my friends and family as possible. So that the next election cycle they will go out, and tell all their friends to vote me or my patron back into office so I can keep hiring more friends and family. The perfect example is John and Todd Stroger. Just google their names and you'll see what I mean. Philly probably has similar problems.

    And that's possibly why you couldn't get the person you talked to to understand what you were asking. Every town is different, but getting hired/interned is not easy. It's more about who you know than what you know.
     

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