The variance of our gig
One thing I've realized over the years is a great gig can change according to your level of work, physical and professional . This opinion doesn't parallel other lighting designers, ( they see only to advance) and I have to keep reminding myself that 90% of my fellow techs can't even figure out what planet I come from. This is ok, because our field of entertainment welcomes the "misfit" techs. I mean, think about it for a second, you are working on a crew of 20 AV techs and most of them look, dress, speak, and do everything similar to you, and then there's that 1 guy. He is a complete individual, and if he has some age to him, you can get some great stories from him and what has transpired over the years in our field. I myself, am drawn to the old codgers because we as technicians don't have great coffee table books with high def photos of us doing our thing because no one wants to see that.
The title of today's blog is something I've been thinking about for a while. How to track a tech career and their choices that got them there. Now most techs aren't the best at spinning a great yarn for you because socially we aren't the types to find it important to tell great stories. So when I ask a tech a question about his/her career path it's usually " this guy I knew, that guy I knew" , but I know there is more to it. I can give several examples of fellow technicians that were in the right place at the right time, (not knowing a soul on the gig) and made miracles happen.
One example I've been a part of, was a union movie shooting in a non union state. A friend of mine was trying to get on set but it was locked down, so I started looking for some blog entries and I ran across one talking about Shia ( starring in his current movie) was spotted hanging with some crew members at a local TGIF (in a small town). So I sent my friend to that Fridays, sure enough he could spot the electricians and grips by the attire ( dead giveaway) so he non stalker-like followed them to the pool table and started buying them pitchers of beer. Within the hour he got 2 days of work. When there is a will ( and a serious amount of balls) we techs can find a way. I can give a personal example of what happened to me almost 20 years ago as I was trying to get into film, and was in New Orleans with another friend who wanted to work ( on set ) as well. We knew that the Dennis Quaid movie, "Undercover Blues" was shooting on or about the quarter, so we walked the streets looking for film trucks. We walked up to this one truck and witnessed a guy yelling at another guy about how there was no way it was getting done (didn't know what he was referring to) So we approached him and asked if we could "help" him with his task ( we still had no idea what he did ) and he was so flustered he said yes, to us, and proceeded to hand us some jeans and metal brushes. Turns out he was in charge of specific wardrobe with no helpers, and had just gotten a script change, and had to distress a ton of clothes in the next 3 hours. We scrubbed jean material to make worn holes, and he was so happy we got the task done in time. He took us on set, introduced us to a PA and we got 2 days as extras at a bumped up rate. Another example I can give of how I became an electrician is completely serendipity. I was a PA on my 1st low budget film. The electricians were super short handed and I offered to carry heavy cable ( I was ease dropping) to the 2nd location. The gaffer just looked at me with absolute bewilderment. So I repeated myself, "I understand you are short handed and I would like to help, it looks like lifting would probably help you out the most". He then proceeded to hand me more than I normally carry and I faked being able to do it. The next day he ran me like a dog with 16 hours of crazy labor and lifting and joked that I probably wouldn't be back for thirds. I showed up that third day and the rest is history for being in lighting in the entertainment world. ( 20 years ago )
I give examples from my early days because they are innocent "just happened to"situations. Now that I'm old there is a whole song and dance that can be performed to get certain results for that next gig. I love watching others do their personal song and dance and borrow some new tricks along the way. These actions are a the way of our technician culture. I firmly believe that we are the only sane people left on the planet.
I'd like to hear some of your stories of how you got into the "biz".
I've posted some pictures of my favorite jobs over the years so enjoy. Some of the older ones hurt to look at because i was just a kid on film sets. A ton of them are from my true love, Mannequins.