I'm currently a junior studying at NYU. I will be graduating around January 2015 and I am trying to plan for my future afterward. Long term, I'd like to become a cinematographer but I'd like to get there through gaffing because I genuinely enjoy working with lighting. I figure I gotta start getting grip and electric jobs. I am pretty skilled working with most basic to intermediate grip equipment and lights and am able to run power from breaker boxes to distro boxes to lights while adhering to the ring of fire.
I'd prefer to join a union as soon as possible in order to get consistent work rather than freelancing too long.
I'd love to stay in NYC if possible but it seems pretty difficult to get paying work for legit productions and impossible to get union gripping jobs without being in the union. From what I hear and can tell it is extremely difficult to join Local 52 the NYC gripping union.
Alternatively, I could move to LA. Joining Local 728 seems decidedly easier than 52 with lower union dues. Also, from what I hear, it seems much easier to get legitimate production work in LA.
Does anyone have advice on how to start gripping in NYC and joining the union? How much easier is it to get work in LA and how difficult is it to join 728? How plausible is it to join 728 soon after film school?