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How to become a highly requested Crew Member

Show Support | 28th May 2018

Dear Showies,

People often ask me, “How did you first become a highly requested Crew Member?”

Before answering the question, it’s a good idea to list the advantages of becoming a sought after member of staff:

1. Better reputation
2. Higher income
3. Greater flexibility
4. Improved job satisfaction
5. More opportunities

In our entertainment industry, the way to become highly requested is to consistently put in a top effort with a great attitude.

Always maintain a good temperament when representing Show Support; this can’t be stressed highly enough.

Some people try and get into a Client’s good books by befriending them. This may seem like a good tactic as a lot of Clients are too polite to tell you what they really think, however, it is the wrong approach. It is far better for a client to dislike you personally, yet respect you professionally, than to like you as a person without respecting you as a Crew Member.

Having the correct tools on your person at all times is a surefire way to impress your Client. The minimum tool requirements to make yourself an effective member of the team are:

1. A multitool, such as a Leatherman or Gerber
2. Shifting Spanners, min 200mm
3. 19:24 ratchet wrench known as a ‘podger’.

This is why we equip all regular Showies with an SHS Waist Pack for their tools and why we have 1000 new SHS podgers on the way.

Crew Members who go above and beyond these expectations by bringing along other tools, such as rattle guns (impact drivers), screw drivers and pliers will not go unnoticed.

Additionally, the more useful connectors you keep in your SHS Waist Pack, the better. If you happen to become the saviour of a gig because you alone possessed the connector needed to make a key component of the job work, perhaps moments before doors, there is a good chance you will become highly requested.

Chances are you may go home with some electrical tape, commonly referred to as “lecky tape”, in your pocket. Bring it along on your next gig so you can hook in straight away.

Crew who fail to show up with the correct Personal Protective Equipment, “PPE”, will not find themselves on many Client’s preferred crew lists. Imagine a Client’s frustration when they have spent months planning a high priority event only to be thwarted at the last minute by crew stopped at security because they have failed to arrive onsite with the following:

1. Steel Cap Safety Shoes/Boots
2. A Hi Vis Safety Vest
3. A Hard Hat

Never be that Crew Member.

When you break it down, the Client has hired you to help them do a job. Therefore, don’t try and tell them how to do the job, just follow their instructions to the letter, quickly and efficiently, before returning to be assigned your next task. Keep repeating this process until the job is complete.

As you gain over 18 months experience, it may be Okay to suggest a new task. For example, you may say, “I have moved all the equipment to Front of House, as requested. Would you like me to now put up the drape line?” However, if you sense the slightest resistance to this approach, then back off immediately and allow the Client to assign tasks as they see fit.

Bearing in mind all of the above, it is my belief that most Clients will allow some initiative from their Crew Members when the following conditions are met:

1. The Client’s instructions have been followed to the letter
2. The Crew Member displays adequate industry experience
3. The Crew Member volunteers for unpopular tasks

Another way to make yourself indispensable is to build up your qualifications. The types of tickets that may be useful are:

1. White Card
2. MR truck license
3. Scissor lift license
4. EWP license
5. Forklift License
6. Riggers ticket

When a Client is ready to knock off their SHS Crew Members, sometimes there is more work to be done that the Client may assign to their own full time and freelance staff to handle, such as:

1. Putting away roadcases and stacking them neatly.
2. Railroading cables when gaffing them down
3. Tidying up back stage areas
4. Tidying up drape lines

You would be amazed at the lengths some crew will go to avoid the above tasks. A great way to extend your call time and ingratiate yourself with the Client is to demonstrate your willingness to stay as long as necessary to make the show a resounding success.

Putting away roadcases neatly is an art form. Ensuring the correct equipment is placed back in the right cases during a set up can save a lot of time during a bump out. Finding the right place to stow cases and pack them as neatly as possible will impress venue staff and Clients alike. Always be mindful to keep cable packers accessible so Clients can quickly find what they need in the event of an emergency.

Believe it or not, if you can convince the Client to allow you the honour of gaffing down their leads, their respect for you and your earning capacity will both improve. Once you gain a reputation for being a good leads gaffer, Clients will likely request you just so you can gaff down their leads on future jobs.

Always work carefully during a set up.

Don’t create extra work by not leaving enough slack on corners when running out cables. Also, never leave things like packers, roadcases, loose equipment or crew backpacks too close to the wall when you first arrive. Cables often need to be run down the sides of the room, so always leave a decent gap along the walls.

When gaffing, ensure all cables are perfectly aligned and never criss crossed, with the thickest cables nearest and thinnest furthest from the wall, tabbed regularly at roughly 1 metre intervals. Any doorways need to be completely gaffed down to prevent trip hazards, possibly with cable trays, and it is a good idea to run a strip of white or fluro gaff, or yellow and black safety tape, down the middle.

Tidying up backstage areas is also a delicate matter. Once again the use of white gaff, fluro gaff or safety tape to clearly delineate walkways in low light conditions is a helpful tactic sometimes neglected by inexperienced crew. What you need to consider here is the first impression a Client has when they walk backstage. Will they see a neat working environment or a chaotic mess where crew have just dumped everything? Once again, all items need to be stowed in the correct place. If you see loose equipment, don’t hide it. Instead, put it back where it belongs, even if it means unstacking empty cases to do so. Gaff down all leads backstage, as they may become trip hazards during a show. Often the End Client will use these backstage areas, so the tidier you make them, the more gratitude you will earn from your Client.

Imagine you are the presenter, directed to the lecturn from backstage. Make that experience as smooth as possible by gaffing the cables on the lecturn neatly, whilst planning for any possible eventualities by, for example, ensuring there is a spare power line for the presenter to plug in their laptop and enough length on the HDMI cable in case they decide to put their laptop on a plinth nearby.

Consider the gig on a deeper level and you will become a highly sought after Showie.

With drape lines, you must always ensure there is no silver crossbar visible at the top, even if it means dropping the whole drape line to fix it. Also, the drapes should hang uniformly, no light should penetrate from behind them, and the bottom of the drapes should be rolled neatly underneath.

The moral of the story is the more you keep things organised while setting up, the more efficiently you will be able to tidy up the gig before doors. And the better you make the Client look, the better you look yourself.

Maintaining an affable, personable nature is a great way to improve your standing in the industry. It’s never wise to treat juniors disrespectfully as in future they could become your boss.

When you don the SHS Uniform, SHS Waist Pack and tools you represent a premium service and must act accordingly.

By enhancing the reputation of Show Support, you honour those who forged that reputation before you and bequeath it to those who shall follow to make their professional mark on our industry.

Uphold the values of Show Support and, before you know it, you will become a highly requested SHS Crew Member.

Warm Regards,

David Neil
Operations Director
Show Support Pty Ltd

Highly prepared crew are highly requested crew.

Always be ready to perform at your best, while maintaining a safe and effective workplace by considering the following:

1. Full PPE
2. Full Uniform
3. SHS Waist Pack and Tools
4. White Card
5. 1st Aid Certificate and SHS 1st Aid Kit
6. Great attitude!

White Cards can be done online at the following link: WhiteCard

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