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#1 Matt Workman

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 11:14 PM

Hi,

I am interested in how one might start as a film electrician/spark/lamp operator?

- Work at a Grip/Electric house?
- Non-union shows

Is the Lighting Technician Union the 728 in NYC? http://www.iatse728.org/

What are the requirements to join and how do you apply? Is it lamp operators, best boys, and gaffers?

Thanks,

Matt
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#2 Robert Aldrich

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 02:22 AM

Hi,

I am interested in how one might start as a film electrician/spark/lamp operator?

- Work at a Grip/Electric house?
- Non-union shows

Is the Lighting Technician Union the 728 in NYC? http://www.iatse728.org/

What are the requirements to join and how do you apply? Is it lamp operators, best boys, and gaffers?

Thanks,

Matt


Call them up!
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#3 Frank Barrera

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 01:26 PM

Local 728 is L.A. Local 52 is NY.

There are two ways to get into 52:

#1-You get "walked in" by a union represenative. This is not very common but I know several people who have been walked in. This has happened because the union wanted to organise a non-union feature or cable-tv show. The details of how or why they actually organise the show are a bit hazy to me but it happens from time to time. It happened a lot in the late 1990's when the local essentially tripled it's membership in just a few years. I haven't heard of it happening in a while though.

I have a friend who was seen by the local rep working on the back of a grip truck many times on many different non-union shows, mostly commercials. After about two years of this the rep walked up to my friend and said,"Come on down to the hall next week and you can join up if you want." He did and now is very busy on big features as a grip.

#2-You do it the official way. You give them $750 (this may have increased lately) and apply for an application. If you fullfill the requirements for application they take $250 out of the $750 and put it towards your testing fee. You then take a written and practical test. For some odd reason the electricians test is very simple (I took it a few years ago) but the grip test is very difficult. No one seems to know why this is. If you pass the test then you must sign up for the next vote. There are two votes every year where the general membership gathers to vote on new members and other union business. I have many friends in the union and no body knows how the vote works. All that is known publicly is that the members are given a list of names and they are to vote up or down on each prospective name. Beyond that it is not known the rules for how many votes one needs to get in etc. Many people just call it a 'unanimous vote' because it might as well be. If you are notified that you have been voted in then the remaining $500 goes towards your $2500 initiation fee and then presto- you are eligible for union work.

If you are not voted in you may sign up for the next vote for free. But after that you must pay $200 per every subsequent 2 votes.

In 2000 when my wife and I decided to start a family I thought it would be a good idea to join. I have lots of friends in the union and I certainly am qualified. I passed the test and went up for three different votes over two years. I made every effort to get in. I called up union officers who I knew, I lobbied out side of the voting meeting (this is a very comon practice), I even got offered two union jobs as a gaffer (a tv show and a feature) and the union still refused my membership so I couldn't take the job. I finally gave up and just focused on shooting.

Why did I not get in? I don't know. I have a good friend who is the best set electrician I have ever worked with who has many years of experience and many contacts in the membership and he has been up for 7 votes. They just won't let him in. Don't get me wrong, they do let people in. My point is that the path to membership is not transparent.

So, if you want to get into the union and I think it is a smart move for most G and E, you should call up 52 and start the process of getting in becasue it may take a few years. Meanwhile, just get as much work as you can on low budget features etc. The rental house idea is a good one if you need to learn about the equipment but if you already know that stuff you won't get much out of it. It's not like the camera dept where rental house folks also do location work.
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#4 Matt Workman

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 12:20 AM

Thank you Frank. That is tremendously helpful. The fact that you need to voted in makes it seem unlikely that I'd be anywhere elligible to join anytime soon. I have only worked with one or two union electricians/gaffers.

Also thanks for the tip on the G/E houses. I have never been present at a G/E checkout, I'm usually in the camera dept.

Hopefully others have learned something also. Thanks again.

Cheers,

Matt
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rebotnix Technologies

Technodolly

Rig Wheels Passport

Aerial Filmworks

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Tai Audio

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