Updated: Jul 25, 2018
Does the idea of being backstage while your favorite band is playing excite you? Why not make a career out of it? You are going to spend a good part of your life working. You have a choice. You can decide right now how you are going to spend that time. Take a minute to think about what excites you the most. Whatever it is that you dream about there are people out there doing it for a living. If showbusiness is your thing then you are in luck! There are literally thousands of opportunities awaiting passionate candidates like you.
Don’t be fooled by the classic picture of a backstage technician wearing torn and dirty black shorts and t-shirt complete with long hair, tattoos, piercings and driving a beaten up '97 toyota tercel. There are plenty of those people but by no means does this imply that they are underpaid. It is a personal choice in life. I have over 600 facebook friends and most of them have a job that is in one way or another related to live shows, movies, television productions and other events. All of them are making a decent living and doing something they love.
However; unless you have friends or relatives working in the business, you might find this domain obscure and hard to access. The truth is: The industry needs you. In any city, on any given day there are multitudes of live performances, tv shows, movie shootings, festivals and corporate events going on. At all of these events you will find people just like you working as technicians, light designers and operators, riggers, carpenters, electricians, sound engineers, video editors, drivers, ushers, cooks, runners and the list goes on and on. You might have heard that the industry is in a tight spot and work is hard to find? Actually, if you are a passionate and hard worker, you will always be in demand. Whatever toll the industry might take due to the economic situation, the show must go on.
There is a popular saying in the business that goes like this; ``if you want to work in the backstage industry, you better get good at loading and unloading trucks’’ (there is some truth to that) (chuckle). Here is the deal: You could get hired today by a production or rental company as a general hand pushing cases, loading trucks, coiling cables and so on. That will get you into the system. You don't need to be very knowledgeable to get hired, just have a great attitude and show up on time. Everything else is learnable. Once through the door, spot the guy or girl who is doing what you dream of doing. Talk to them Ask questions. See if there is anything you can do to help them out and get them to talk about their job. Once in a while, you will be up against an arrogant selfish rockstar who will look down at you as if you were no more than a piece of electric tape stuck to his shoe. But more often than not, you will find a passionate and hard-working person just like you who is dying to share his or her knowledge. This will give you a real feel of the job and the challenges that await you. You will be in a much better position to decide whether you wish to embark on this adventure or would rather do something else. You will also understand what you need to learn in order to excel in your particular domain and how to obtain that knowledge.
Not sure which door to knock on to get hired or how to find out more about the job? Why not drop us an email right here at backstagecowboys.com? Tell us what your aspirations are and in what region you live. We love to hear from our readers and help them out in any way we can. You can also sign up for our newsletter which is packed with valuable information about who does what in the industry and what training sessions are going on in your area. While you're at it, go ahead and subscribe to the backstage cowboy’s podcast and listen to the people who have been there and done that tell their amazing stories and anecdotes. We are all happy to help and advise to those starting out in this special business.
Written by Claude Viens
Light product specialist
AVL Media Group, Montreal, Qc.
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