Hiya, Entertainment Industry!
I got a really interesting email last night from a local stagehand at a large concert venue in Colorado that would prefer that the venue and city in which he works be redacted, so I have done that. But you have GOT to read the email below, it’s absolutely disgusting. I hope you see it the same as I do. Who the fuck do you think you are yelling at stagehands?
Jim, hi. Love the site, we here at [redacted] in Colorado read you a lot. Next time you’re out this way, let me know so we can get you in here and get some better pics of the venue. I don’t want to speak for all of the guys here, but I know that we all feel the same about this. Do me a favor and don’t post my name and don’t post that I work at [redacted]. Thanks.
I have a really important question to ask, maybe you can give us some insight on why most of the crews that come through here feel it’s the right thing to do to scream at us all day. Most of us here are people who are just as good at the jobs we do as the tours that come through here. Why do you think they think it’s the right thing to do to yell at us to get us to do what they need done? I went into the Army back in the 1970s and did two tours in Vietnam. Every very good lieutenant that I served under was the kind of man that could motivate the men without raising his voice, and every time we had to go out on patrol with a squad leader who was a screamer was more times that not a really scary time because no one wanted to help the screamer. Don’t the people out there driving the tours understand this logic? To us, it seems like nobody gives a shit about the crew of the day. We hump cases, we put trusses together, we take care of what they need because it’s our job. We’re great at our job. All we want is that people would treat us like we were humans and not a gaggle of stupid people who need their instructions shouted at us.
I’m just an old hippy who used to love my job but it’s hard to get new people to come to the local after they see how we’re treated. Nobody wants to work somewhere with shitty tour crew yelling all day long. Any normal person would be just as bitter if they had to put up with this bullshit all day every day.
Keep doing what you do, you give us some sane time before and after the yelling.
I suppose the first thing I should say is that I’m sorry this is happening. I have done my share of shows worldwide, and I don’t believe in yelling at the crew. I believe that the best way to get the crew to do any and everything that you need done is to show up in the morning bright eyed, bushy-tailed, and with donuts and coffee. It’s true that I get a lot of shit for that (especially the coffee and donuts part) but if I have to work with guys I don’t know and I know a hard day’s coming for the locals that day, it’s part of my job for the success of the show that they believe in the show that they’re assembling. It’s not a secret that people will work hard for you if you make them feel like human beings. It amazes me that people decide to take the douchebag route on their local tours. I know many people who lead crews on tour, and it’s my pleasure to say that a lot of those people are really great guys and ladies who believe the same way I do.
Are you a screamer on tour?
The first thing I want to know is WHAT is it that gives you the right to screw up the attitudes for the shows that come after you? Who the hell do you think you are that you can treat people this way? I know that one thing you’re doing is making a reputation for yourself that assures that your career will be short-lived, because team leaders do NOT want to hire someone who creates a work stoppage in the middle of a busy show day. Touring is hard enough as it is without you making all of the locals hate touring personnel without getting to know us. I know a good handful of really unbelievably great programmers and LDs who don’t work because of their attitude — one of them is an awesome cook at a restaurant in Dallas, and another is an insurance adjuster in southern Illinois. Is this the career path you’d rather have? Something outside of the industry you love? If you keep yelling, it’s coming. I’ll definitely help you exit my industry if you feel that you need to screw up the harmonious and often very rewarding work that the rest of us call a career.
To be fair, we’ve all had local crews who haven’t been worth the paper their badges are printed on, and those days do suck. I’ve had Labor-Ready crews that barely had the skill to not be selling crack out behind the venue, and I’ve had non-Union riggers who dropped cell phones and sets of keys from the grid. Those are rough days. But even in those situations, it does you NO JUSTICE to scream at people. When you’re out on a B or C market tour, you should expect to have these things happen — just recently in February 2013 in Los Angeles, I had a Union stagehand at the Event Live LA show tell me “I’m not pushing those fucking towers, one fell on my buddy and messed up his back for life.” It was fine with me, all I needed to do was go tell his Freeman foreman that the guy wouldn’t do his job and I got someone else on the crew that would push those towers out to the truck. I didn’t need to yell. Sometimes you just get a hand who wants to be a jerk on the jobsite because of whatever reason there is — but just as many times as that’s happened, I’ve been able to smile at somebody who wanted to be a Summer’s Eve in at crew call, tell a few jokes, and get that man or woman to get on board with the work that needed to be done that day. It’s amazing what can be done when you inject a bit of happiness and compassion into people’s daily existence. If that doesn’t work, you always have the crew chief to help them get motivated, or to get someone who wants to work on your crew.
All of this is just as applicable to stage hands, too — if every day that you work is another day in hell, maybe you should get yourself into another line of work. We’ve all got more to do in the short amount of hours in the day without having to put up with your shit attitude. Seriously. The large majority of us treat you all with the utmost respect and admiration because you make our days easier. There’s no reason to act like a jerk when we’re only trying to do OUR jobs, too.
Industry pros, ask yourself:
“Do I think it’s OK to scream at my local crews in order to get the work done?”
If your answer is anything other than NO, maybe you ought to look into working with another industry’s people. We don’t want you in our business. You screw it up for every one of us every single time you take your personal problems out on a local stagehand. I know the service industry is hiring, it might be a good idea to lose your God complex and see how it feels to be in service for a while. That’s more of a humbling experience than death.
As for the talent? Well… as long as they keep paying, karma will sort that out on its own.