Looking for event, rigging, stagebuilding work.
February 13, 2014 11:18 AM   Subscribe

So this November I worked on some freelance event gigs throughout NYC-- it was similar to the film production work I'm looking to get into, required some related skills and I worked alongside some people with experience in the film industry. I've been looking high and low for similar work-- stage building, rigging, that sort of thing. Following that seasonal gig, I tried to look on Craigslist, Indeed, even Mandy for related event work but was lost-- despite the fact that I'd worked with people who seemed to imply that they'd found event work through similar avenues.

Just for some clarification as to what I mean by event work:

The gig I worked involved building and rigging decorative displays, a small amount of electric involved, working lifts and making sure things were aesthetically pleasing.

And one other job I found out about and applied to was a company that builds stages and backdrops using pipes and curtains for various events in the area.

Thanks guys!
posted by dr handsome to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Contact your I.A.T.S.E. local and get yourself on their work list.
posted by BostonTerrier at 11:21 AM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

Offstage jobs. I would check under "sets" and "electrics".

Backstage.com has a jobs posting board as well, with an entire film crew jobs section, and also has listings for theater crew.

NB: I have not vetted either one, as I was in a very different realm of theater and got my jobs in other ways. But industry-specific publications like Backstage are where a lot of work postings happen.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:26 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I live and work in a way smaller city than NYC, doing kinda pretty much this, full-time. How it tends to work here is that companies that do this stuff have more people approaching them than they have work for, so they don't tend to need to advertise for help wanted. Instead each company has a short list of freelancers they call on as needed. As various people approach them looking for work, a company'll try them out for a couple of gigs, and if things go well, they'll get called more regularly.

So maybe your best bet is to find various companies doing this kind of work, and basically cold call them. Then once you've gotten a few gigs under your belt and demonstrated that you're available and reliable, you'll be on their short list, and get more calls.

Possibly useful search terms to find said companies (which you probably already knew given your tags): "event production", "event planning", "concert production", "audio rental", "concert lighting", "audio-visual rental", "staging rental", "stage hand", possibly "trade show display/setup", so on and so forth.

Also, if film production is your eventual goal, it might be worth it to try getting in with companies that do film work specifically. Even in Cleveland's tiny tiny tiny film production world, there doesn't seem to be a lot of labor overlap with event production. Might be different in NYC, though.

Note that now, in the depths of winter, might not be the best time to go looking for these kinds of gigs. Once the weather breaks is when business picks up; there are a ton more events outside, and more people willing to put on inside events since the weather is less likely to tank attendance, so more companies need more people.

"Rigging" (just in case you didn't know) in the world of theater & concert & event production tends to refer to a specialized skill involving hanging things over people's heads via truss and chain motors & such, and usually requires some specialized training. So something to be aware of as you look for gigs is that companies looking for "riggers" are likely to be looking for people with that training and certification.
posted by soundguy99 at 12:41 PM on February 13, 2014

Your best bet is to use the connections you've already made to find more work. Talk to people you've worked with in the past -- especially whoever your immediate supervisor was. Directly say that you want to do more of this type of work, and specifically ask them to call you when they need people.

The way to break into this -- and film production as well -- is to know the people who hire people. Get your foot in the door with them. Make sure you are at the top of their list of people to call for he next job. Make sure they know when you're available. From there, you want to get in with a regular team of people who work together frequently. If you can do that, the work will just come and you won't need to troll Craigslist and Mandy.

A word about job websites and listings: when I was first starting out ~7-8 years ago, it was easy to pick up entry level paid film production work via the web. Now I almost never see anything worth applying for, and when I do, either I don't hear back (so, probably they're getting inundated with resumes) or I get an obvious bot email asking me to sign up with some scammy "job listing site" (so, it wasn't a real listing in the first place).

I hired a cinematographer for a low budget project via Craigslist recently and got easily 100 replies. I would assume that every reasonably OK job on Craigslist probably has the same level of competition, if not more.
posted by Sara C. at 4:02 PM on February 13, 2014

Even in Cleveland's tiny tiny tiny film production world, there doesn't seem to be a lot of labor overlap with event production. Might be different in NYC, though.

In some jobs, the overlap is very high. In others, they're covered by different unions, so there is no overlap at all. It really depends on the specific position.

Also, the film world is very regimented in terms of job titles and responsibility. I've never worked events, so I'm not sure if the same is true, or if the jobs directly correspond. If a "rigging grip" is the same in film and events, great! If events just hire a bunch of gofers and expect you to do construction, electrics, rigging, and set dressing, that may not crossover as well.
posted by Sara C. at 4:06 PM on February 13, 2014

Best answer: Also, I hate to triple post, but soundguy99 is right that this is the slow season, at least in the film community. Summer and fall are when you have the best chance of getting hired as a newbie, because people will take anyone they can get.

One thing that especially tends to happen (especially if you are looking to join IATSE) in New York is that new TV series get picked up and begin production right when all the big features come to town, in late spring and early summer. This can create a rush where people will hire just about anyone, and even the unions start accepting unorganized workers to handle the overflow.
posted by Sara C. at 4:11 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Extremely helpful answers, possibly the best I've gotten on AskMeFi so all this info is incredibly appreciated. Most freelance questions are met with unhelpful answers that make finding work seem more impossible than simply challenging. It's more than clear that film's a difficult thing to get into but all your answers definitely offered clear and honest direction.
posted by dr handsome at 10:23 PM on February 13, 2014

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