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About working in NYC


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#1 Brandon J Barron

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 03:49 PM

Hello all,
I am a young(read strong and abuse-able) electric currently living and working in Austin, TX. I have 4 years of experience lighting for printing photography as well as about 2.5 lighting on smaller projects and whatnot. Anyhow, y'all know how it works. My question is this:
What's it like working in NYC. Is paid work around? All I really see anywhere is free/deferred. Which is fine if you're into that but I like paying rent and whatnot. Also, how necessary is a car for working in/around the city? How likely is it that a person would be able to find non-union work during the 18-months before you can join IA-L52?
Really, I am just trying to get some first hand anecdotal information so anything helps. Hope y'all are keeping warm up there, take care.

_brandon barron
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#2 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 02:33 AM

Well, I'm a camera geek so things are different for me. Local 600 is like the Community Athletics of unions: everybody plays. I could elaborate on that sentence in a few creative ways, but I put myself on sarcasm probation. :-D

...I digress. 52 is a lot more...old skool? Hardball. Like you take the test, then they decide if they like you, and if they don't, you're S.O.L. Bonus points if you have family in the industry. No, seriously.

Right now, it is cold and slow. Every winter here, is cold and slow. Then, things "are supposed to pick up" by March, but they don't, usually, until about May, at which point you can bust out the Bermudas and stop hibernating, until approximately Thanksgiving; after that, everything comes to a screeching halt again.

I would not say that a car is hugely necessary, but if you own a lot of gear or live further out in any of the outer boroughs, it might be helpful. Good luck with parking though! :-P

The non-union work is generally low-pay or no-pay, like you said. It is possible to scrape by, but sometimes you have to really do your time on the little gigs in order to make it add up.

I'm trying to tell you this in a way that is realistic because I'm a New Yorker and we don't blow smoke up people's asses...but I'm also trying to be somewhat impartial because I don't want this to sound too negative. I mean, I have a friend who's a grip/occasional gaffer, she's not in 52, and she works A LOT, on pretty good jobs too. So it can be done. Most of the union work round these parts, is commercials and a few shows. (Oh wow, it's 2:30 am and I totally almost wrote "a few shoes". Yes, union shoes.)

It sounds like you're the kind of person who would fit in pretty well here and be successful though...because you've been doing it for long enough that you won't get pushed around, but you're tuned in to how smaller projects run. As important as it is to know how to act on a union set, you can't always bring the union act to the indie jobs, or they'll think you're a snob...so it works both ways!

What's Austin like for work? I have never been there....
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 02:42 AM

If you do bring a car into the city (as i have to from down here in Philadelphia) I highly recommend something small with good cargo space. I normally car-share a prius to get up there and the one company I do a lot of work for in NYC pays the bill. NYC also has Zip-cars, I think? So you can get on that if you'd like and need a car for whatever reason.

P.S. Annie, get some sleep.
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#4 Brandon J Barron

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 05:42 PM

Hey, thanks for the replies. I appreciate the honest advice, no need to candy coat any of it, getting work in a new town is tough. Sounds about like what I expected. Austin is a great place to work, when you get it. Things can dry up here in a hurry, the weather and the work. But the people are great and there is usually something shooting somewhere in town. Take Care, hopefully I'll see y'all on set one of these days.

_brandon
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#5 Ira Ratner

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 08:13 PM

Brandon, I lived there my entire life before moving to FL. Go for it:

It will be a life experience for you, and regardless of the amount of work you get, you'll have the time of your life.

And you'll hopefully wash your brain of those conservative Bush philosophies FOREVER.

They actually believe in stem cell research there! Capable of curing hundreds of horrible diseases!
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#6 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 09:41 PM

Sell your car when you arrive. Having a car here is a total pain in the ass.

There is work in NY. Starting out, much of it will be totally shitty, but you can say the same for moving to LA. It's very busy in the union world right now, but there's no way to project what it will be like in 18 months when you can get on the permit list. Your only hope of joining L52 is to work, hope you hook up with some people who get called to do "permit work," have them hook you up with permit work, and then fit in with the union guys who hire you, and hope they like you enough to help you get in. It's a long shot, but you're at the age when you should be taking long shots.
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