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Freelance Lighting Designer

Discussion in 'New Member Board' started by FlyingPig, May 12, 2009.

  1. FlyingPig

    FlyingPig Member

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    New to this forum. Recently decided that school wasn't the path for me so I'm stumbling my way through as a freelance lighting designer in Kansas City. Lucked out and have a good amount of experience in road houses, community theatres, professional theatres, and working with a local production/rental/install company. Hoping that I made the right decision in not going for that bachelor's and getting more experience instead.

    I currently have a gig as a semi-resident designer (don't ask) at a TYA theatre and finding that the worst problem I'm having is getting screwed on money by not having my own contract. Do most freelancers have their own contract? Or do they just argue the fine print in contracts given to them by the theatre (or what sparse contracts they provide)

    The plan is to move to Chicago and continue there. Heard that there is a bigger market there than here in KC. Eventually move to New York and see if I can cut it in the big leagues, but that's a few years down the road.

    Also thought about touring, but don't know how to get in besides

    Anyways, love this site and I keep finding great advice and information. Finally a forum for techs.
  2. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Performing Arts Center Manager
    Macomb, MI
    Welcome! Great to have you here. Be sure to check out the Wiki and the search function. If you would not mind telling us where you heard about the site, that would be great. We can be a nosy bunch around here. Enjoy CB!

  3. FlyingPig

    FlyingPig Member

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    Found the site by doing searches on various things through google. Seemed no matter what I was looking for, there was always a link to CB somewhere.
  4. Goph704

    Goph704 Active Member

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    North Carolina
    Dear Flying Pig
    I feel for you man. I'm trying to do the same thing in N.C. but the difference that I went in and got my B.A. first. The advantage to college is also it's disadvantage, which is you get into a system of working one way all the time. You may learn to master that system or you may not. When you get out every theater works differently so mastery over one way of working may help you and it may not. I learned a lot in college, but my time there kept me from getting experience in the "industry" so you may be on a better track than I was. Still I have found that that sometimes that piece of paper matters.
    As for contract stuff, You always want to work with some kind of contract. I have always been a little sketchy on people who don't do contracts of some shape or form. Whether that is an understood contract or not remember that nobody is going to protect you if you don't protect yourself. Most theaters need volunteers. As a professional you have to stand out and show why it is important for them not to treat you as a volunteer. Resume's and portfolios are your best protection, as well as working with people who will speak well of you.
    Teach yourself everything about lighting, all of it. From drafting to boards, to McCandless, to dimmer repair, to control systems because the instant a Director or an L.D.throws something at you that you don't know about, your rep gets destroyed. Don't fake it, know it. Make sure that you work with a good attitude and always show up on time. From now on you and your work are a product that is for sale. Theater companies have to know that they are getting their moneys worth. Believe me I've worked with a lot of directors who are convinced that you can do any show with an actor, a horse and a lantern. It's our job create something so spectacular that they have to admit that won't work.
    If you can, work little gigs where you know that it's okay not to get paid because sometimes you can learn a lot in those shows. As you get more experience start building up that portfolio and sending it out as much as you can. On Jobs if someone asks you then tell them what you are interested in doing and what you are trying to go for. People are more willing to give advice on those free gigs than they are on the paid stuff. On a paid job most people are looking to make their own money and are less likely to tell you about other gigs in the area. When it comes to free stuff then tongues are a little bit looser.
    When I started out i got a day job and volunteered with a lot of different theaters in the area until I had a little bit of a rep built up and some pictures to show potential employers. As soon as I could afford to I quit my
    day job and started in with the local Union. You already are ahead of that if you are working with a rental company, so you have the day job in the "industry."
    I also recommend working anywhere and doing anything that you can as long as it involves a little bit of money. A lot of companies are struggling right now, and working the little $300 dollar gig, could turn into a grand next year, you never know.

    Well anyway, that's just what I've got going on.
    I'd really appreciate it if other people would keep posting on this thread, cause i think we could all use the advice right about now.

    _good luck to you buddy,
    good luck to us.

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