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RE: [TheCostumersManifesto] Finding work that pays a decent wage

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  • CostumeShopManager
    Supply and demand. There are more designers than jobs. Period. It is true for union as well as freelance. Film and TV is as bad, just pays better. And it
    Message 1 of 8 , Apr 13, 2005
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      Supply and demand. There are more designers than jobs. Period. It is
      true for union as well as freelance. Film and TV is as bad, just pays
      better. And it does so because of larger budgets. Even a big theater
      will only sell 6000 - 8000 tickets in a week, x $75 each = $450,000 -
      600,000. Think of opening weekend for a blockbuster, $50 - 75 million.
      No mystery there.
      In both industries, the key is who you know and how they remember you.
      Go to events and remember the people you meet. Do favors, student film
      projects, whatever will keep you connected. Have standards and
      aggressively seek to maintain them. Know what makes you happy and do
      it. Is it making money or making art?
      You also have to look at the "decent wage" in the location of the job
      offer. If you want the slower pace of a rural area, expect lower wages,
      fewer opportunities and affordable rent. If the city is for you, you
      can have several projects at once that will pay the high rent.
      Do not blame the moms who like to help out. Without them there would be
      no theater in schools, followed by no interest in regional or
      professional theater. Blame a society that does not value art. Society
      wants everything fast, cheap and easy. Theater is none of those things.
    • Sylvia Rognstad
      ... I m not blaming moms who help out at all. But there are a lot of community and professional theatres that don t pay their designers and they always seem
      Message 2 of 8 , Apr 13, 2005
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        On Apr 13, 2005, at 4:42 PM, CostumeShopManager wrote:

        > Do not blame the moms who like to help out.  Without them there would
        > be
        > no theater in schools, followed by no interest in regional or
        > professional theater.  Blame a society that does not value art. 
        > Society
        > wants everything fast, cheap and easy.  Theater is none of those
        > things.

        I'm not blaming moms who help out at all. But there are a lot of
        community and professional theatres that don't pay their designers and
        they always seem to be able to find ones who will work for free. I
        don't actually know if they are moms or married women with time on
        their hands, or students still living at home or what. Yes, I know it
        is a matter of supply and demand which is why it will remain an ongoing
        probably unsolvable dilemma. I have actually been able to find some
        paying design jobs in the past year that either paid enough that I
        could do them full time (summer positions) or I could keep my other
        part time jobs and still have time to do them as well, so I consider
        this a good year, although I'm still having to dip into my savings to
        pay my bills.

        I agree about living in a big city. You will find more jobs there,
        although the rent will be higher, unless you choose a location that is
        not so central to where the action is. I know you can do this in L.A.,
        since I used to live there and L.A. is a good place to choose because
        of the film and tv industry. Also New York and Chicago.

        I still say regional theatre is one fairly lucrative avenue. Not
        compared to film and tv, but compared to other live theatre. I
        interviewed one such costume designer a few years ago and wrote an
        article about him for an alumni newsletter. He seemed to be making a
        decent living with his work going back and forth among several
        theatres who hired him on a consistent basis. He started out assisting
        a big designer and I gather that is how he got his lucky break and
        managed to work his way into the regional theatre circuit. So I highly
        recommend working as a design assistant. That usually means living in
        a big city though where big designers work.

        Are there any regional theatre designers on this list who have
        something to chime in about?

        And yes, contacts are the most important thing! Make as many as
        possible.

        Sylrog
        >
        >
        >


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      • williamson
        How right this is. I worked on the stage for twenty years before taking time out to do costume and design (first love) at the London College of Fashion.
        Message 3 of 8 , Apr 14, 2005
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          How right this is. I worked on the stage for twenty years before taking
          time out to do costume and design (first love) at the London College of
          Fashion. Having graduated at the 'mature' age of 44 I have made a concious
          decision not to try to begin all over again in this costuming field for all
          the reasons already stated. I love 'knowing how' and 'being able to' - but
          mostly I get aproached to do alterations or peoples curtains, now that I
          'know how to sew'. Sigh. I tell people I can't make clothes, but if they
          want a boned, piano-felted, reversible leather doublet with slashing and
          hand detailed finishing, then I'm their gal - but it'll cost 'em!
          jules

          ...
          Society ..
          wants everything fast, cheap and easy. Theater is none of those things.







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        • Randolph Keator
          Catslave ? Any cousin to Felinestoy ? Seriously, I m going to sound unrealistic but the first and most important thing you need to ask yourself is ; Do I love
          Message 4 of 8 , Apr 14, 2005
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            Catslave ? Any cousin to Felinestoy ? Seriously, I'm going to sound
            unrealistic but the first and most important thing you need to ask yourself
            is ;" Do I love what I'm doing enough to be doing it whether I get paid for
            it or not ? " I do what I do because I really do love it. For me it's not
            really a job, it's a passion. The pay is a fringe benefit. I gave up the
            "big" money and high stress shows ( some of you know exactly what I'm
            talking about ) to do community theatre. I still do special effects makeup
            and some pretty fancy and elaborate costumes, but I don't have the headaches
            associated with "the big leagues". If what you really want is " THE BIG
            MONEY " then you will have to go where it is . If that means moving to a
            different location, then that's what you may need to do, at least for a
            while until you can get your work noticed by the "right" people. The biggest
            question is ; What are you willing to sacrifice ? Sounds harsh I know, but
            reality often is. Wish you all the good fortune possible.(~:
          • Cynthia Spilsted
            Hello all: I just had this very same discussion with my kids! I live in a small town and do costuming primarily for dance with the odd theatre stuff thrown
            Message 5 of 8 , Apr 17, 2005
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              Hello all:
              I just had this very same discussion with my kids! I live in a small town and do costuming primarily for dance with the odd theatre stuff thrown in. I make more than the $500 quoted by one lady per show, but not enough to live on. However, to live where the money is would mean to give up the lifestyle I enjoy and the people I love. I still consider my biggest paycheque is to see my costumes on stage (sometimes six years after its original performance!) and on performers I know as people.
              Cynthia

              Randolph Keator <rkeator@...> wrote:
              Catslave ? Any cousin to Felinestoy ? Seriously, I'm going to sound
              unrealistic but the first and most important thing you need to ask yourself
              is ;" Do I love what I'm doing enough to be doing it whether I get paid for
              it or not ? " I do what I do because I really do love it. For me it's not
              really a job, it's a passion. The pay is a fringe benefit. I gave up the
              "big" money and high stress shows ( some of you know exactly what I'm
              talking about ) to do community theatre. I still do special effects makeup
              and some pretty fancy and elaborate costumes, but I don't have the headaches
              associated with "the big leagues". If what you really want is " THE BIG
              MONEY " then you will have to go where it is . If that means moving to a
              different location, then that's what you may need to do, at least for a
              while until you can get your work noticed by the "right" people. The biggest
              question is ; What are you willing to sacrifice ? Sounds harsh I know, but
              reality often is. Wish you all the good fortune possible.(~:




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