Need Help With Some Research

Please select the four most important aspects you value in a technician.

  • Years of Formal Education / Degree Held

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Ownership of Relevant Equipment

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    28
  • Poll closed .

NateJanota

Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
Orlando, FL
Hello again CB.

For those of you who haven't met me, I'm Nate. Hi! I'm currently working on a project about which I'm incredibly passionate and excited, but I don't wish to make it completely public yet because it's quite... well, complicated and hush-hush at the moment. So I have a simple favor to ask, and I'll include the "strings attached" at the bottom for those of you with questions.


The favor:

If you wouldn't mind taking a few moments of your time to please answer the poll attached to this thread. What I'm asking is simple- what do you consider to be the four most important aspects of an Entertainment Technician? I'm being very broad here, and there's a reason for that. I know it may be difficult to narrow down, but I want opinions. If you wouldn't mind posting a response to this thread with your reasoning for each choice, I'd appreciate that, too!


The catch:

This is preliminary research for a project. At the moment, I can't say what the project IS, but if you promise to humor me, I also promise to reveal what the research is for come February. I can say that it's related to an entrepreneurial undertaking (i.e., a company I founded) and something that is unique to it, but I can't say more than that at this time.

If you have questions, you can post them here, and I'll answer them within the limits of my NDA. If this whole thing is a bit too much trouble, I'd appreciate you saying so regardless, so that come February I'll know who to give answers to first!

Thanks CB!
 

Colin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2015
Location
Eastern Massachusetts
I chose work pace & motivation, willingness to work, certs & equipment experience, and generalization. My overall rationale is that most of the time I can do the job myself as well or better/faster than someone else, and the number one reason I'm hiring another tech is so that I can take something off my plate and concentrate on other things. If the person is slow, whines or doesn't show up because the work isn't glamorous, then I might as well do it myself. Certifications and equipment experience help in cutting down on orientation time and supervision (again so I can walk away for a while and not have things fall apart). The less common instances where I need someone to do something for me that's outside of my abilities, certifications and equipment experience also gives me some peace of mind that the person does indeed know more than I do and enough to do the job right. On the flip side, some degree of generalization helps everyone work together and avoid arguments and inefficiencies because each technician understands what each other is doing. That stuff adds up, even just something as simple as calling out "anyone see my f-ing pin splitter?" and having a carpenter say "over here".
 

NateJanota

Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
Orlando, FL
I chose work pace & motivation, willingness to work, certs & equipment experience, and generalization. My overall rationale is that most of the time I can do the job myself as well or better/faster than someone else, and the number one reason I'm hiring another tech is so that I can take something off my plate and concentrate on other things. If the person is slow, whines or doesn't show up because the work isn't glamorous, then I might as well do it myself. Certifications and equipment experience help in cutting down on orientation time and supervision (again so I can walk away for a while and not have things fall apart). The less common instances where I need someone to do something for me that's outside of my abilities, certifications and equipment experience also gives me some peace of mind that the person does indeed know more than I do and enough to do the job right. On the flip side, some degree of generalization helps everyone work together and avoid arguments and inefficiencies because each technician understands what each other is doing. That stuff adds up, even just something as simple as calling out "anyone see my f-ing pin splitter?" and having a carpenter say "over here".
Thank you! Your reasoning is sound, and I appreciate you taking the time to go into detail for me. Motivation and work pace seems to be the primary driving factor at the moment, and I can see how efficiency in this industry is the determinant factor. After all, time is money, and effort is money. Combined, an excess of the first and a lack of the second could really ruin a gig.

I think your choice of generalization is fascinating. I wonder if that will be a split among most technicians? :think: Some prefer that a tech do something EXTREMELY well, while others would prefer they be jacks of all trades.

Thanks again for your input, Colin, you're really helping a guy out!
 

Colin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2015
Location
Eastern Massachusetts
I think your choice of generalization is fascinating. I wonder if that will be a split among most technicians? :think: Some prefer that a tech do something EXTREMELY well, while others would prefer they be jacks of all trades.
Yeah I'd make that a last priority out of the four. I certainly want the person to know how to do their assigned task very well first. But since you gave the option of certification & equipment experience, I chose generalization as a complement to that. I spent a good deal of time as a generalist, and still am in that now I teach multiple concentrations, and I warn my students about how tricky that can be. I want them to be generalists to a point, but eventually they will reach that point where they may fall behind peers who have specialized. Tough to define where that crossroads is, because it depends on the individual's makeup and dumb luck. I know some people who went full-on into a specialty very early and others who dabbled in this and that for years professionally before settling into a "calling" that could still change down the road. Some folks in both categories do really well and some not so well. Generalization gives you mobility and adaptability, specialization gives you staying power in the upper tiers of a field.
 

josh88

Remarkably Tired.
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Jan 26, 2010
Location
Ypsilanti, Michigan
I think your choice of generalization is fascinating. I wonder if that will be a split among most technicians? :think: Some prefer that a tech do something EXTREMELY well, while others would prefer they be jacks of all trades.
I think it also depends on the scale of the company too.
What I've found as a person who's done some hiring as well as a trying to get jobs is that I'd rather have a specialized generalist? if that makes sense. For example I'm a really good carpenter, but I'm also pretty good at props and lighting and ok at sound etc. Rather than having a literal "master" carpenter who has spent their life dedicated to it, if they are good at other areas too I can save some money potentially.

Also I've parlayed my generalization into better jobs. I've been hired at a theatre for one thing and when someone higher up leaves because my skills are known and I have more than one discipline they hire from within and move me up to fill the spot. In a larger company I'd want the specialists who know their stuff but are aware of how the other ares work and what they do and maybe have some basic abilities, this just helps people collaborate easier because they can share understanding, language and expectations.

*this may not be clear, I've been typing this over an hour while kids take an exam.
 

NateJanota

Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
Orlando, FL
I think it also depends on the scale of the company too.
What I've found as a person who's done some hiring as well as a trying to get jobs is that I'd rather have a specialized generalist? if that makes sense.
I would be lying if I said I completely understood but I DO understand where you're coming from. Thanks josh for your input as well. Especially as someone who has been on both the employer and employee side of the equation, your reasoning will be incredibly useful.

In a larger company I'd want the specialists who know their stuff but are aware of how the other ares work and what they do and maybe have some basic abilities, this just helps people collaborate easier because they can share understanding, language and expectations.
This applies doubly I've noticed within the touring and themed entertainment workplaces where mingling of job roles is common. I can see why generalization is more important than I previously thought.
 

josh88

Remarkably Tired.
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Jan 26, 2010
Location
Ypsilanti, Michigan
I would be lying if I said I completely understood but I DO understand where you're coming from.
I think what I really mean, I got around to saying near the bottom. I want someone/want to be someone who has an area they are a pro in. If you ALSO know how to do other areas that means you can lend a hand on a small job sometime or help trouble shoot something else etc. It makes you more valuable and when working with other people, if you've been in their shoes before you have a better understanding of their perspective in the conversation.
 

NateJanota

Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
Orlando, FL
I think what I really mean, I got around to saying near the bottom. I want someone/want to be someone who has an area they are a pro in. If you ALSO know how to do other areas that means you can lend a hand on a small job sometime or help trouble shoot something else etc. It makes you more valuable and when working with other people, if you've been in their shoes before you have a better understanding of their perspective in the conversation.
I getcha. Kind of like the engineering 80/20 rule. Know your own discipline (say mechanical) 80% of the time, and be able to help with some other discipline the other 20%. Makes sense.

Now in my personal, inexperienced opinion (just from doing research): I feel as though specialization is more powerful closer to the equipment, and less powerful further from the equipment. In other words, with the exception of general stagehands or deckhands hired to fill gaps, I feel as though some techs are suited to keep their noses out of other disciplines' business. This is not saying generalization is wrong/bad. What I'm driving home is that Technical Directors, Show Directors, etc are the people I most strongly feel should possess the greatest and widest understanding of all the disciplines. Their specialists can then carry their own almost without management, and the deckhands possess enough specialization to fill gaps should there really be any.

Is my opinion sensible? Or am I off base or reading too much into it?
 

josh88

Remarkably Tired.
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Jan 26, 2010
Location
Ypsilanti, Michigan
I think the 80/20 rule just about nails it. I'm a school TD and I'll hire out as needed but I do it all. I've got my strengths and preferences but I'm a perpetual learner, so I always want to know more which is what pushes me to expand into areas I don't know as much about.

In a less related example. I do fight choreography. My wife is a director. So I have an idea about what questions director might have and I know that they'll have a vision of the show and the story they are trying to tell. Knowing that going in helps me ask the right questions and do my job better than someone who was coming into fight directing as a martial artist (for example) and says, it said the guy punches the guy so I made him do that and its safe, I hope thats good. Both may be good fights, but if mine supports the show's story and direction, its better than a cookie cutter fight thats been dropped in but isn't connected to the bigger picture.
 

NateJanota

Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Location
Orlando, FL
I think the 80/20 rule just about nails it. I'm a school TD and I'll hire out as needed but I do it all. I've got my strengths and preferences but I'm a perpetual learner, so I always want to know more which is what pushes me to expand into areas I don't know as much about.

In a less related example. I do fight choreography. My wife is a director. So I have an idea about what questions director might have and I know that they'll have a vision of the show and the story they are trying to tell. Knowing that going in helps me ask the right questions and do my job better than someone who was coming into fight directing as a martial artist (for example) and says, it said the guy punches the guy so I made him do that and its safe, I hope thats good. Both may be good fights, but if mine supports the show's story and direction, its better than a cookie cutter fight thats been dropped in but isn't connected to the bigger picture.
I think that analogy was the clearest anyone's ever explained that to me, thank you. That helps greatly.
 

themuzicman

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2007
Location
On Tour
I work for a large theater in NYC with an overhire list of well over 50+ folks in my department alone. We value attitude and hard work any day over relevant certifications, formal experience, education, or anything else. As long as someone is willing to work hard, and learn as they go (and retain that knowledge!) they are golden in my book. We take in plenty of people who are starting a second or third career who have no relevant experience, and plenty of folks who were former actors and from other departments; all they have is a willingness to learn, and attempt to specialize in our department - the folks that know stuff want to teach, and hopefully the new people want to learn. If there is no effort given to learning or bettering themselves they quickly fall off the overhire list, same for seasoned folks with bad attitudes. We have high school dropouts working alongside folks with M.F.A's from Yale. I have seen plenty of people come in with no knowledge and within 6 months to a year find themselves steadily employed with their choice of jobs, including a few who have gone from no experience to touring on first national's in relatively short time periods. Good attitudes go a long way.