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cdiamondz

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Jun 29, 2016
Location
Michigan
Hello Controlbooth!

It's been some time since I've last posted here, but I'm looking for some guidance on how to go about this.

I am currently a mechanical engineering student and work as a mechanical designer for a company that manufactures automated industrial manufacturing machinery. I am looking to transition into live entertainment in about a year or two. I'm trying to work my way into the industry as I've found that manufacturing isn't quite the industry I want to be in. Plus, I spent my high school years as a technician, 3 of which I had held the student technical director position.

What would be the best way for me to work my way into the entertainment industry? I know that a major part of getting into gigs is networking and contacts (my brother currently works in the industry which definitely helps on that front). I'm also considering a career in designing fly systems or automated scenic elements, but I really want to get into stage, lighting, and sound type work as those were my focus while I was in high school. Rigging and rope access work is definitely on the table as well.

Quick clarification note: I'm looking more along the lines of music festivals and concerts rather than live theatre, didn't want to cause any confusion!

Please share your thoughts and advice :)

Thank you!!

TL;DR: former high school student technician is now a mechanical engineering student and wants to get back to doing live events, any advice?

EDIT: Totally slipped my mind, but I'm currently located around Detroit, MI. Oops!
 
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Van

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Portland, Or.
Have you thought about staying in the current genre but moving laterally into mechanical design for scenery, spfx, display design etc, etc, etc.
I wouldn't discourage you from grinding away at being a hand if that's what you want to do, but there really is a lack of mechanical designers with a theatrical background that understand how equipment is actually going to be used and treated. Just a thought.
 
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cdiamondz

Active Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2016
Location
Michigan
Have you thought about staying in the current genre but moving laterally into mechanical design for scenery, spfx, display design etc, etc, etc.
I wouldn't discourage you from grinding away at being a hand if that's what you want to do, but there really is a lack of mechanical designers with a theatrical background that understand how equipment is actually going to be used and treated. Just a thought.
I've definitely considered this option, but I'm not entirely sure if I want to stay in mechanical design, I'll have to kinda feel it out a bit over the last two years of my education to see where I want to go.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts :)
 

TimMc

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Feb 15, 2017
Tait Stages. Next door to Clair Global.

Or finish your engineering degree and work for one of the handful of PE shops that do entertainment structure design, evaluation and certification.
 

TimMc

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Feb 15, 2017
And Entertainment Structures Group, folded back into Steven Schaefer Associates in 2017... https://schaefer-inc.com/esg-is-now-schaefer/

Also I mis-identified Tait; they're still Tait Towers (and part of the Rock Litiz empire). "Tait Stages" was the name of the 2013 "reality" TV series.
 
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Van

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* Second the Schaeffer thing if you want to stay in Engineering. Good folks there.
 
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gafftapegreenia

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How good is your drafting and technical drawing ? Can you do AutoCAD backwards in your sleep? Because THAT is the need I see right now. It’s definitely one of the harder positions to hire for and then keep.
 
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What Rigger?

I'm so fly....I Neverland.
Joined
Aug 24, 2006
Location
PPT.
Hey, @cdiamondz- you want to listen to these folks here. They're not kidding, there's a lot of direct application of where you are to where you could go.

Personally, I think you need to go here for a weekend to see it all in person.

https://rocklititz.com/home
 
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cbrandt

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Dec 7, 2011
Location
Michigan
Get on the IA 38 overhire list. They're good people, and it can give you an excellent grounding in what the work actually is.

But these guys are right. Unless you *hate* ME, there's a lot of space for someone with that skillset in the industry. I loathed my statics and dynamics classes, but they've definitely served me well.
 

chawalang

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Apr 10, 2012
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Texas
I took structures classes in grad school and I honestly passed it by the skin of my teeth. It very much took me taking that course work to understand that I’m not an engineer. However, our industry NEEDS engineers!

Currently our industry has a pretty strong intersection of engineering, art, and technical design.

McLaren is an engineering company through and through but also has a separate entertainment division. They saw that there was a need and they pursued it.

I would ask yourself if you really, really want to start all over again pushing road cases and lugging deck. This is a legit thing to think about because you’ll kind of be starting over as far as your direction career wise.

Or does designing or installing stage machinery for a contractor, consultant, or manufacturer sound cool? That is a massive world that is in need of people. Honestly it’s also done pretty well during the pandemic, since most of it is long term permanent install.

Music festivals as a stage hand are great environments to herniate a disk, really mess up your back. You might go do that for a few years but then think, man working in a scenic automation shop wouldn’t be beating up my body like this does. I know the PRG shop in Detroit has a massive scenic automation shop, mainly because of all the stuff used on auto shows.

Just some thoughts, if you are really interested in mechanical design for our industry send me a PM.
 

SteveB

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Mar 20, 2004
Location
Brooklyn, NY
Get on the IA 38 overhire list. They're good people, and it can give you an excellent grounding in what the work actually is.

But these guys are right. Unless you *hate* ME, there's a lot of space for someone with that skillset in the industry. I loathed my statics and dynamics classes, but they've definitely served me well.
This was my thought, work if possible for an IATSE local. I suspect everybody will be looking for over-hire by of summer.
 
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