The above Ad will no longer appear after you Sign Up for Free!

Tips and Advice for Young Technicians

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Jon C, May 5, 2016.

  1. Jon C

    Jon C Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    2
    Occupation:
    Theatre Production Student & Freelance Technician
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Hi all,

    I'm looking to pick the brains of those of you who have been involved in the industry for some time as to what you believe what makes the best young technicians.
    Personally, I worked on the management side of the industry as a Production Manager for about 4 years before deciding I wanted to turn to the more hands on technical side of the industry (specifically lighting, audio, rigging & stagecraft). I enrolled in a 2-year Technical Theatre Production program at a college in Toronto, Canada and just finished up the first year. I'm wondering what tips & advice you may have for young technicians in similar positions to mine.
    With four months until I return to school, I'm looking to further my skills and knowledge as much as possible instead of wasting the summer away.
    What do you fine folks recommend as a way to build on what I'm already doing over the summer? Can you recommend any training or certifications that are beneficial?
    Any other advice would be much appreciated!

    Cheers,
    Jon
     
  2. TuckerD

    TuckerD Active Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    40
    Occupation:
    Engineer
    Location:
    Billings, MT
    I too am a student, though I'm not studying technical theatre and I've never worked as a production manager.

    But my biggest advice, which is probably universal, is to make connections. Especially to people you wouldn't normally connect with (outside of the usual circle). The people you meet outside of your normal circle of connections are how you grow the number of opportunities you have and the resources you can use while learning. Doing this online on websites like ControlBooth, reddit.com/r/technicaltheatre, or others. If you can, attend conferences. In the US we have USITT every year which is a great conference for students and new professionals. I'm not sure what you have up north (not that you wouldn't be welcome here in the US).

    As far as hard things you can do this summer that would help you learn. I don't have very much advice. Find a theatre near you that could use some help on a summer production or find one that is hiring for summer stock, although it may already be a bit late for that.
     
    Jon C likes this.
  3. paul roberts

    paul roberts New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    london
    Hey guys I have a question?

    I was de-rigging some lights and took the safety cable off last after unscrewing the coupler etc., he told me I wrong, surely the safety cable will stop it dropping during that process?
     
  4. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    932
    Likes Received:
    317
    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    To me, this sounds like a personal preference thing. Possibly the person in charge is one of those 'I always have to be right / You always have to be wrong' personalities. When stripping pipes, I'd often make a pass unplugging every lamp and dropping cables followed by a pass undoing safeties from the pipe / truss and re-securing them to their fixtures. If the crew were mostly carrying C-wrenches, I'd make one more pass tilting fixtures to my preferred storage angle / rotation and re-snugging them with my speed wrenches leaving clamp bolts finger tight for everyone else's convenience. If we're totally stripping pipes in a counter-weighted venue, the most weight we'd remove from a pipe was color, frames and gobos until the fly-person has given the word that counter-weights have been stripped . Sometimes the plan is to only strip specific fixtures leaving others behind for the next production. In this case safeties would be left in place as indicators of fixtures NOT to be removed. Different rules for different venues and different situations. Different rules for stripping your own pipes by yourself vs. working with a crew of three or four 'greenies'. Working with folks who know nothing but are trying to impress you with their eagerness can be scary.
    Some venues keep a safety attached to every fixture, even when in storage. Some venues remove safeties and store them all together.
    Bottom Line: When in doubt ask. Always!
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  5. paul roberts

    paul roberts New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    london
    Yes I guess your right, it is an element of always wanting to be right I think, Just the guy that told me has no interest in doing anything physical himself, he just popped his head in the door and spurted his opinions then took off, I am more than happy to take guidance and advice. Its just I am around students and to show them an incorrect way of doing will only pass on his bad habits, safety for me is always key and bad practices should be nipped I the bud where possible, but I guess your right, each to there own.

    Thanks for response Ron really helpful

    Talleehoo

    Paul
     
  6. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Active Member

    Messages:
    481
    Likes Received:
    53
    Occupation:
    Shop Foreman
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    1. You're never above sweeping a floor
    2. When you're done with the first task, ask what the second one is. don't wait to be told.
    3. Know who can get you fired. This may be the most important. Knew a new carpenter who got in an argument with a painter in the shop. Turned kind of nasty and he said something insulting. An hour later he was fired. Turns out the painter was the wife of the producing director of the company. She made a call and he was fired. Right or wrong, fair or not, that's how it goes down...
     
    RonHebbard likes this.
  7. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    932
    Likes Received:
    317
    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    1. You're never above sweeping a floor. Once you've learned how to sweep the floor.
    2. When you're done with the first task, ask what the second one is. don't wait to be told. It's O.K. to ask what your next task is BEFORE you've completed your first task. I wonder how long it will take Nate Janota to fully comprehend number three?
    Edited to add a missing space between two words.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
  8. Les

    Les Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    3,860
    Likes Received:
    642
    Location:
    DFW, Tx.

    Although this belongs in the lighting forum, I will go ahead and put in my two cents. I don't think you were doing it wrong per se, but probably backwards from how most people would. The safety cable is not there to save the fixture, it is there to save the person/property below the fixture (which there shouldn't be during the rigging/de-rigging process). Unclipping the safety cable after everything else is loose is probably less safe than unclipping then and loosening the clamp while your free hand is on the yoke of the light. This is because it takes two hands (usually) to un-do a safety. While this is going on, you have no hands on the fixture which is hanging there with its hardware loosened.
     
  9. seanandkate

    seanandkate Active Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    631
    Likes Received:
    89
    Occupation:
    Educator
    Location:
    Stouffville, Ontario
    The topic of safety cables actually came up earlier this month. You might find this thread helpful.
     
  10. josh88

    josh88 Remarkably Tired. Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    1,666
    Likes Received:
    287
    Location:
    Pawtucket, Rhode Island
    It came up earlier because it was Paul in both threads asking.
     
    seanandkate likes this.
  11. seanandkate

    seanandkate Active Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    631
    Likes Received:
    89
    Occupation:
    Educator
    Location:
    Stouffville, Ontario
    Thanks Josh. Missed that!
     
  12. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,632
    Likes Received:
    524
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Show up on time. Do not be late. It bears repeating as its about the most annoying trait I find in folks.

    The load in/work call starts without you and when you are late others are carrying your load.

    The sign we have in our shop is "Late + Excuse = Late"
     
  13. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    932
    Likes Received:
    317
    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    + 2-1/2!
    You just finish dispensing assignments and explaining what's to be accomplished in the four hour call AND THEN some turkey shows up and you have to explain it all OVER AGAIN. There are sub-laws too; If you wait for the straggler(s), they still don't show up. As soon as you've sent someone to the loading floor, someone you'd been hoping to use on deck, the stragglers roll in wearing their heavy clothes and snow boots and still need another five minutes before they've changed into suitable work attire. What do you mean you've left your steel-toes at home?!
    Early's on time. On time but not ready to work is also still late.
    Am I sounding like the bitter voice of experience?
    You've got the latest I-Phone welded to your palm but you're asking me if I can loan you my pencil?!
    I can feel my BP rising at the memories.
    I'm recalling one person in particular who really annoyed me.
    He'd accomplish so little he was routinely referred to as having three positions (poses)
    - 1; Coffee cup in use, cigarette at idle.
    - 2; Cigarette in use, coffee cup at idle.
    - 3; Totally idle.
    His annoyance factor was close behind the loser who'd grab the remote and key-in: Channels @full-*, slam every stone-cold lamp filament to full and drive your 'Peak demand' meter through the roof for the remainder of the month.
    Aaaarrrrrrrgh! No thanks for these memories.
    Love your shop's sign BTW.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  14. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    3,953
    Likes Received:
    531
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    Think about your time as a production manager and what you wished your crew knew or how you would want them to behave. There's a start.

    I hope that you had a productive summer. As for training or certifications, some of this depends on what you plan on doing with your career. If you are wanting to be anywhere in the lighting side of things, study power, prepare for the ETCP. If you are wanting to be a carpenter, look into welding certifications, etc. If you are looking at being an audio guide, chill and listen to music (seriously, time to train your ears, so skip the non-complex sounds).

    In general, read a ton of industry websites and magazines. Watch videos of professional productions to see what you would like to figure out how they did that (so you can ask in class). It isn't about replicating what someone else has done, but looking to see what is good and bad.
     
  15. Scarrgo

    Scarrgo Active Member

    Messages:
    231
    Likes Received:
    41
    Occupation:
    Technical Director
    Location:
    Sterling Heights, MI
    It took me a long time to do this, "Being early is being on time, being on time is being late..."
    Couple of other thoughts, many others may have said..
    dont be afraid to ask a question
    know when to ask a question
    be willing to do anything that you know how to do, and if you dont know how, ask
    know your limitations!
    Dont bring your grumpiness to work, we all have bad days, so if your having a bad day, dont make me grumpy
    if someone is making you uncomfortable, unwanted advances, tell your supervisor...
    If you see something that you know is wrong/illegal/dangerous/taking advantage/stealing/fill in the blank...tell your supervisor...but remember that if your going to call someone out that is doing one of those things, it cant be personal, it has to be matter of fact, you cant let your feelings be involved, because if you "just dont like that person", that is not a reason to make a claim(hope this makes sense) we have rules for a reason...
    no one is really above pushing a broom...
    the hours are long, bring extra clothes, so if you get wet, rip your pants, gets cold/warm, etc... you have something to change into
    have fun
    and you probably wont get rich doing this job, make a living? maybe...
    listen...
    Have fun

    Sean
     
    Nick was here and RonHebbard like this.
  16. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    932
    Likes Received:
    317
    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    Where's that 'Double Like' button when I need it?
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     

Share This Page