Magazine article Stage Directions

When Do You Finally Climb Down from the Ladder?

Magazine article Stage Directions

When Do You Finally Climb Down from the Ladder?

Article excerpt

There was a time that, even as a TD or production coordinator, I refused to simply stand idly by while my crew slaved away to get a show or event ready. Even if I had to wear a tie, I still had my Gerber at my side and usually a crescent somewhere on my person. At the time, I thought that this was a good thing; it showed my crew that the only separation between them and me was in our job titles, not in my head.

But I came to a dark realization one day - to paraphrase Dazed and Confused - I got older, but my techs stayed the same age. As my body began to give me hints that my time working at height was drawing to a close, I had to come to terms with the fact that I would have to resign myself to the office or to what I used to refer to as "stupid-vising' my crews. It taught me a couple of important lessons, though, on how to manage a crew instead of simply work among them.

Trust

The hardest lesson I had to learn was trust, a lesson which got harder to take to heart with just a few burns here and there (see my August 2007 column for just one example), but the fact is that when (not if) the day comes that you find yourself having to slow down a bit, you'll have two choices: Either trust your techs to know their jobs, or stock up on pain relievers. I personally recommend making sure your techs are knowledgeable and to trust them, but stock the aspirin just in case.

Trust, however, does have other fringe benefits for the in-house TD. My stepfather used to tell me that two things in life motivate people: the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Period. Of course, in my youth I dismissed this as the rantings of an old man who was completely ignorant of the world around him. Guess who turned out to be right?

When I was a young tech, I worked with a number of TDs and crew chiefs who could be divided into three categories: parental, tyrannical and apathetic. …

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