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Event Production Etiquette


As the industry starts to show signs of life, we're finding that much of our former crew was not able to hold out during the pandemic's original shut down and left the industry to take other jobs. This is forcing us to hire and train some new recruits to bolster the strength of our remaining veterans. As we continue to teach these ambitious and eager techs, we thought it might be useful to post our progress and share this with others that may be considering a career in event services.

The Stagecraft Life

It's true, like most specialized trades, stagehands and stagecraft professionals are members of their own unique culture, and like their vocabulary, an etiquette evolved. When we collect and present all the unique aspects of stagehand life, there is undeniably a code of ethics that we instinctively follow, or that is picked up through experience. Those recruits that resist adapting to the lifestyle don't seem to last long.

Some of the rules are unspoken and some are clearly communicated. But in total, there exists a set of guidelines and principles that most production crews have instinctively adopted and standards we all seem to hold. It's worth mentioning that stagehand norms do differ based on geographic location and department specialization. But we pulled together a list of expectations and general etiquette for new recruits and good for veteran review.

They may not all apply to all production crews, but they are some standards that will set you up for success, if understood and practiced. Since this is an arbitrary list, and based on only a small sampling of experience, we welcome and encourage all to comment below with anything we missed or haven’t experienced.

General Expectations

  • Stagehand's place is in the shadows.

  • Nobody leaves until the truck is loaded.

  • Show crew eats before strike crew.

  • Client food is not crew food.

  • Assume every cable is hot.

  • Always mark your cables.

  • Return spent lamps.

  • Mark bad gear.

  • Tape down cables last.

  • Keep crew area tidy.

  • Respond to availability checks quickly.

  • Nobody likes a gig jumper.

  • For freelancers, Invoices are due immediately after the show.

  • A 10 hour day is a short day.

  • If you're late, bring donuts.

  • Gloves are mandatory.

  • ​Don't get caught napping.]

  • Advise lead if schedule will cause lunch penalty.

  • Do not engage end-client directly unless instructed.

  • Do not go into anyone's workbox or road case without permission.

  • Mute your comm in the bathroom.

  • The shift isn't over unless your lead says we're done.

  • Don't walk away from a project until it's done.

  • Don't talk about other jobs or clients on the job.

  • Don't speak negatively about other stagehands.

  • Inform your lead immediately if you break something.

  • Empty pockets and secure tools before walking out onto a catwalk.

  • Fill out crew paperwork before or after your shift, or during breaks or lunch.

  • Take off your headphones while on the show floor.

  • No unnecessary chatter over comm or radios

  • Avoid hanging around FOH during the show, unless you're required to.

  • Notify someone if you walk off the show floor.

  • Take phone calls or texts at the perimeter.

  • ​No breaks for the show crew during the show.

  • There’s no excuse when you drop anything from a lift.

  • Charge your lift when you're not using it and at EOD.

  • Turn off your lift when you're done, secure the key and/or controls.

  • Plan your bio breaks.

  • Never nap on the stage.

  • Label your cables.

  • Set it like the drawing.

  • Don't assume what's next.

  • Slower is faster.

  • Fix the drape behind you.

  • Safety over convenience.

  • Police your own gaff.

  • If it's hard, you're doing it wrong.

  • Bring back wayward gear.

  • Stow empties under deads in the boneyard.

  • Only smoke in designated areas.

  • Don't argue with the client.

  • Set your cell phone on “silent.”

  • Notify crew when going off comm.

  • Circuit exactly as instructed.

  • Don't run or drive over cables.

  • Attached ground, then neutral before hots

  • Bring your own tools.​

  • Call ahead if you're late (late guy brings donuts)

  • Don't miss your lobby call.

  • Call out if you have to let a cable swing.

  • Call out before you move a lift.

  • Think about your install, load in for the out.

  • Always look busy.

  • Producer is always right (even if they aren’t)

Additional Best Practices

  • Park in designated crew areas.​

  • Never use an impact wrench on truss.

  • Gaff in 90 degree angles.

  • Reset to factory settings for fresh installs

  • Get approvals for change orders.

  • Do not side load shackles.

  • Do not use unrated rigging hardware.

  • ​Bring government issued identification

  • Bring proof of legal right-to-work.

  • Strain relief aerial cables.

  • Only smoke in designated smoking areas.

  • Latch the safety chain on your scissor lift.

  • ​Get overtime approved in advance.

  • Get lunch penalties approved in advance.

  • Bring a copy of your certifications

  • Keep fingers away from motor chains.

  • Arrive early enough to prep and stow your gear before your call starts.

  • Run cables over the top of truss and behind uprights, never through it.

  • Run cables around the back of Fast Fold legs, not through them.

  • A Shackle's pin is opposite side from the spanset, away from the fabric

  • Notify your lead immediately if there is an injury or near-miss.

  • Wear steel toe boots, especially when unloading a truck.

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