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Confused as to my next steps in the industry...

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Hi All,


I guess this is just really a post to see people opinions on the best options for I based on my circumstances so I'll try to keep it short...


Basically, I'm an 18 year old student, just finished my A2 level exams and waiting for my results to come out in August... My predicted grades are:


-Design and Technology - A/B

-Physics - B/C

-Maths - B/C


I also have an AS in Business Studies, which I achieved a B in.


After applying for a product design course, and receiving 3 rejections and 2 offers I realised that I don't really want to be taking a product design course as a backup option, and it would be much wiser to (if I go to university/drama school) to undertake an industry related course. Therefore, because I cannot apply for university again until September, I am going to undertake a gap year and aim to get as much work and work experience as possible to set myself in a good position for next year whether I go to university or not.


So, in regards to my experience... I have been heavily involved throughout my school life in the technical side of the shows and I probably have experience in pretty much every part of theatre production... However, I understand that school shows are often looked down on in the industry so I leave that off my CV...


I have also been invited back to the school for next year’s big musical to take a lead role in the technical aspects of the show... Would this be worth putting in my CV? Also just to put the scale of the show into perspective, these shows are typically very well produced and we have had external reviews that our shows are good enough to go semi-pro...


I am also a member of the National Youth Theatre, and spent 5 weeks in London last summer working with theatre professionals in a variety of small venues.


I work as casual crew at one of my local venues, Cambridge Corn Exchange, a large receiving house for a many different styles of shows.


I am also going to start work as casual crew at a local school who again puts on very high standard shows.


I have also undertaken a few small bits of freelance work with a fairly local sound company and hopefully that will continue.


And finally I have worked as a sound engineer for a local dance company and I am going to be working as an engineer with a fairly well known band at a local gig they are doing.



Well that briefly covers my experience and hopefully more work will come my way from September onwards as I make contacts with other local crew and other people working in the industry. However, I am really stuck as to where I want to go next... I'm not sure as to what I want to specialise in later on in life... And as I understand it, pretty much everyone in the industry has specialised in one particular thing, with a general knowledge in the other aspects of the industry... I'll just briefly outline the job possibility's I've considered and my reasoning behind them and hopefully you can all help me specialise!


Production Electrician - I've always been much more interested in the technicalities behind a Lighting design rather than the design itself. So I'd be more interested in making it all work rather than making it look pretty... (And yes I understand there's more to a lighting design than making it look pretty :))


FOH engineer - For all the sound work I have done I've loved mixing for FOH, as a fairly high standard musician it's always been something that I've been drawn to...


Rigger - Having been a climber for the last 6 or so years of my life I've always been drawn to working at heights, working on ropes and I've always been drawn to getting rigs in the air safely and efficiently.


To add to that, ideally in the long term I would love to specialise in live music, and preferably at least do a little bit of touring work before it's time to settle down with a family!


Anyway, now you know my life-story, I was wondering whether anyone would be able to give me any advice whether big or small as to where to go next! I've got a completely open mind on where I want to go so any suggestions would be much appreciated!


Many thanks in advance,


James Coghlan


P.S. If you have any other questions about me then feel free to ask and I'll try to reply A.S.A.P.

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Hi James:


Firstly, I'm not a noise boy, so it may be a little different for the Audio side of things, but I doubt it.


1. Put the school shows on your CV! You may think that they are looked down upon, and to a certain extent they probably are, however they do show potential employers that you have taken on assorted roles in a theatrical environment and that you have therefore commited serious time and effort to doing something industry related (however tenuous you may feel that link is).


2. Apply to one of the larger Sound Rental companies if that's where your interest lies. Start in the warehouse and learn the kit, prep the kit, sweep the floors, make the tea, etc. There will come a day when they are short of crew and you get asked to go out and make the numbers up. You will also get a chance to meet some great contacts (if it's a bigger name company) that will be useful for you as your career progresses.


3. For gods sake go to university at the first opportunity! The industry will still be here when you are done, and at Uni you can still get involved in the tech side of things with the student union and so on (a LOT of very well known industry 'names' started their careers at the Student Union!)


Hope that addresses some of your points, and good luck! :rolleyes:





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Real work experience is valued more than school experience, am dram comes in between.


If you can get any real world work before you go to uni treaure it getting real experience will assist you in the work place or at uni, or will tell you that uni is not for you -the career is.


As a value rating a school show in your final year is worth about 1/4 of a pro show, an amdram is prob worth 1/2 of a pro show. BUT when you have no other experience that school show is all the prospective employer has to confirm even interest in the theatre. School shows more than 18 months ago are not worth mentioning.

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I think you have to take a broadened view towards experience. School/amdram stuff shows more a willingness to learn and is less a representation of your knowledge; as I'm sure you will experience, like I, the two worlds (amdram/pro) are just so far apart. What seemed like a big responsibility, operating 8 par cans for a local amdram (that was my experience, btw, I'm not presuming yours), makes you think you're the bee's nees but in reality you're small fry. Guys on this forum will tell you that, in hope that it will aid you in the future. So, from an employer's point of view, your experience to date will show them that you're keen and have an assured interest in technical theatre.


Definitely include it in your CV.


With regard to your gap year, don't be picky about where you go. Do everything and anything. If one week you're asked to mic up an Ottmar Liebert tribute and his guitar in some unknown pub, and the week after you're involved in a big-scale production e.g. a musical, turn down neither. I've found that you learn something from each individual experience, even if one requires more skill and aptitude than another.


Edit: Extended response

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Put everything on your CV, it shows commitment to the industry if nothing else :)

Also, have you tried ringing local PA companies? They may take you on (even if just for free) and train you up. Things may even get to the stage where you have enough work coming in to put off university for a little while longer.

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