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Topic: ot: value of working on set?

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  1. #1
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    ot: value of working on set?

    Dear peeps,

    I just punched week two of a 6 week job on the set of a television series that's airing on CBC in the spring. I'm the sound assistant, which basically means that I run cables (two very long audio cables to cameras, and as many xlr's as needed for the boom), pick them up again when the cameras move, and string them again. I get stuff for the recordist when something's left in the van, go for coffee/refreshments, and hang around the boom operator when rolling. I even operated second boom a couple of times so far.

    It came up at just the right time, as I am seasonally employed elsewhere and currently broke, so I'm not complaining at all. It's just that it came about as a result of my having brought a resume to the producer in an attempt to procure some scoring work....so:

    On set work has NOTHING to do with post work!!!!! Other than a paycheck and free meals (and of course the networking opportunity that I'm so hungry for), what the heck am I getting outta this!?!?

    I didn't realize the distinction when I signed up, and I would still do it if I had my time back, but I don't plan to work on set again after this is over. If you call me to work on your film I will do post or nothing.

    Does anyone out there have comments on this type of situation? I'm very curious to know if any composers out there got ahead by working on set. I've already made a couple of potentially valuable connections, and plan to squeeze as much good outta this as I can. But it'd sure be nice to hear some as-yet-unthought-of pros to this predicament.

    Thanks,
    Belbin

  2. #2
    Senior Member newmewzikboy's Avatar
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    Re: ot: value of working on set?

    Belbin:

    In addition to being trained as a composer, I am also member of AEA/SAG/AFTRA and sometime pursue that round. I've also directed.

    What's important ultimately, is getting credit. In L.A. it is not uncommon for people to play a number of hats to get credit and connections. You will see people doing a day job, gaffing, trying to get their scripts produced, and maybe trying their hands at directing or producing.

    As composer, it's not uncommon to play copiest, engineer, conductor, orchestrator to someone elses gig. And then turn around and hire same composer for your own comp gigs.

    The name of the game is credit.

    and you never know who you might hook up with. Just...NEVER do extra work.

  3. #3

    Re: ot: value of working on set?

    huh? for real?

    So what you're saying is that by having a 3rd AD credit on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (coffee and doughnut guy) you're on your way to scoring Tim Burton's next flick? Or perhaps it gives you a great way to rub elbows with Johnny Depp?

    Yeah, I'm sure that cable puller credit looks great on your IMDB page!

    Here's the real deal, as long as you take on-set gigs nobody is ever going to take you seriously as a composer. I don't know how in the world you ever got the idea that being a A2 or A3 would ever get you closer to the scoring work. Your time is best spent working on a sleek reel, and going to some real networking events which depending where you're living might or might not exist.
    >>Kays
    http://www.musicbykays.com
    Music Composition for Feature Films, Television and Interactive Entertainment

  4. #4

    Re: ot: value of working on set?

    I'm with Kays, although I can sympathise with thinking it might have worked and trying it once. It is indeed amazing how separate the two worlds (production and post production) are.

    With that said, there's still a small possibility you can get something worthwhile out of your situation. My opinion, like Kays, is that the credit itself is worthless. But there are still possibilities of meeting writers, line producers or whomever that may pay off years down the road.

    Ideally, you want to meet people who are not yet successful, but may be in the future. A line producer on his first show, a writers assistant with dreams of creating his own show, those sort of people. These are the kind of people who would consider listening to a reel of your stuff for some future possibilities.

    - Mike Greene

  5. #5
    Senior Member newmewzikboy's Avatar
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    Re: ot: value of working on set?

    Rubbing elbows with Johnny Depp? What, are you serious??? As a composer??? As anything???

    Ultimately, I really believe getting a credit on anything helps your career. I see some famous composers, directors, and others having played other lower roles on gigs, NOT in their main line, as well as good stuff. However, what you DONT want to do is do the same role on every gig. Else you will get the old type cast. But, I believe people in the industry understand the multi-hat situation, and the good ones respect you more for it.

  6. #6

    Re: ot: value of working on set?

    There's never anything wrong with taking a job outside of your field when you've got bills to pay. Just make sure you've still got time and energy to put into your music.

  7. #7
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    Re: ot: value of working on set?

    Thanks, guys. That's all good food for thought.

    As composer, it's not uncommon to play copiest, engineer, conductor, orchestrator to someone elses gig. And then turn around and hire same composer for your own comp gigs.......NEVER do extra work.
    Great, but no gaffing please! I was asked by the producer on day two to help out the Grips and Electrics. I agreed, and then realized that I should've flatly refused. Never again. I have to start teaching guitar lessons for a living again when this thing wraps, and the last thing I need is a severed finger. Plus I agreed to a certain job-NOT that one.

    Here's the real deal, as long as you take on-set gigs nobody is ever going to take you seriously as a composer. I don't know how in the world you ever got the idea that being a A2 or A3 would ever get you closer to the scoring work. Your time is best spent working on a sleek reel, and going to some real networking events which depending where you're living might or might not exist.
    Well put, midphase. the next time a call comes back after I polish and deliver my reel, it had better be for scoring, or the secretary will have to make another call. In the meantime, I've already networked a little when time has allowed, and plan to do more of that-at least when the social events happen (Wrap party, etc.)

    But, I believe people in the industry understand the multi-hat situation, and the good ones respect you more for it.
    Probably more true where I live. Here the industry lies underground with projects in development for months or years at a time, and then "BOOM"-production! The industry is so tight knit that it appears clique-ish at times, and it's frustrating to try and break into. You know the way-everyone is hiring their allegedly "talented" friend to do their scores. BSBSBSBSBS. You don't just march in and demand lots or money to score, because they don't like you if they haven't seen you work you ~~~ off on set before. So multi hat makes sense. A friend at one of our larger production companies told me just that. However, I HATE that! Newmusikboy, your advice is sound and always welcome, but I gotta go with midphase on this one-I'm a specialist. Not a labourer. I pay monthly student loan bills for my musical education and that makes me worth more than a 10/hr labourer on a dangerous set. I'd stay home if I wasn't broke (cursed VSL promotions! ), but, as I said, this is more about food on the table right now. And hey-I'm not flipping burgers! You gotta know when to be greatful for 10/hr.
    So I'm putting on my first hat as cable puller. I've already worn the composer hat a couple of times, but, in hopes that some money people here will open up to me after this wraps, I plan to refuse any other hat henceforth. Except teacher. You can always count on new guitar students showin' up. I digress....

    Just make sure you've still got time and energy to put into your music.
    Best one yet! That should be easy, as the job will keep me from my computer for another 4 weeks. Having re-installed windows 5 times in the last 6 weeks (Just take a wild guess which soft sampler I use....), I'm ready to get away from this thing. When we wrap in 4 weeks, I'll be itching to buy, build, bolster and blow the bastards outta bed with big bangin' bombastic brass, bows, bisbigliandi, bells (o)boes, bassoons and.....well.....I'm all out. Anyone?

    Thanks for the insights, and keep 'em comin if you got 'em.

    Belbin

  8. #8

    Re: ot: value of working on set?

    Quote Originally Posted by midphase
    Here's the real deal, as long as you take on-set gigs nobody is ever going to take you seriously as a composer. I don't know how in the world you ever got the idea that being a A2 or A3 would ever get you closer to the scoring work. Your time is best spent working on a sleek reel, and going to some real networking events which depending where you're living might or might not exist.
    I agree with you and you're 99.999999%........... correct! However, Patrick Doyle is the exception to this rule :>)

    D

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: ot: value of working on set?

    I don't think you can really discount the kinds of insights you gain on set. I think you have to approach doing day gigs on set as opportunities, without looking or being crassly opportunistic. You just sincerely want to hook up, and people do respect that. There are opportunities for it, so why not?

    One hint I'd pass on...wear nice shorts or pants, nice shoes, and nice shirts with collars. Don't run around in hiking boots, tee shirts, and carpenter shorts with carabiners and tape rolls all hanging off of you. That really pegs you as a "lifer" in the crew department. A lot of interesting people work on-set. You want to look more like them, not like the grips and PAs (even if that's what you're doing). It's a fine line...you don't want to go too far with it (it's probably uncool to be outdressing the director and DP), but I guarantee you it makes a difference in how people treat you.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: ot: value of working on set?

    There are an awful lot of people who are very successful in all walks of life who have worked on film sets. It's a decent gig. You can make enough money in 3-4 months on a good film to take the rest of the year off for full-time musicmaking. That's what I did. It worked out fine for me.

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