The PA Diaries, Refusing Anxiety & Choosing Fuel

My mornings are fuel for the body. They are a chance to start the day the way you want to end it; on a high note.

When my alarm goes off, it means I have the decision to rejuvenate my body, work out, make breakfast I’ll enjoy, or sleep a bit more. More often than not, I choose to put my body to work. It sets a precedent for the effort I will put into the rest of the day.

But, the mornings I’m traveling for shows, out of town, onsite, or simply, not home, I’ve often said ‘adios’ to the part of my day I considered sacred.

The environment of constant change, particularly in production weeks, usually means the looming of anxiety. What will catering be like? How will I cope with the long days? What will I do to stay clear-headed? How will I cope with stress?

In years past, I gave up on routine under the belief it was not attainable.

After a summer of working shows consistently last year, awareness stepped up and pointed out my weaknesses. What sends me down in spiral mentally, what builds me up physically, and where I can find comfort in balance amidst no set routine were no longer this giant mystery.

The answer was to maintain ‘morning time’.

I choose to wake up 30 minutes earlier to work out. I choose to walk to Trader Joe’s and pick up a few snacks catering won’t have to subside the anxiety of eating food that will make me uncomfortable. I choose to be in touch with my thoughts early in the morning and allow myself time to mentally prepare for a day.

My sacred time, despite stares I might get from others, is what keeps me aware of myself and how I’m doing.

Working in production, traveling, adjusting to new environments, it is all still new to me, I’m finding what works for me. 

The PA Diaries Feat. Pen & Paper

Happy Monday!

Pausing during a busy day to recognize how COOL it is to work in a field where I can call my dad, and chat over new ideas, and processes, and learn from his own experience.

It’s easy to lose sight of your mentors offer. We get so wrapped up in ‘knowing it all,’ or coming up with our own way, we forget others did it perfectly well before.

Want to know what worked well before? Pen and paper. Good ole’ fashioned pen and paper. Write it down. Write your notes from your meeting in your notepad. Set aside your laptop in exchange for doodling and notetaking. Pick up your journal instead of a scroll through Instagram. Write IT, whatever IT is, down before you take the chance to hash out the details or over-analyze to perfection (if it even exists).

Ideas come to life over time. They deserve a chance to live on paper for a bit, to live in their own separate world. 

City life has been hectic and crazy, to say the least, so last weekend’s trip home to Boston was much needed. Of course, as it seems to be a repeating pattern, every time I  head home, a snowstorm hits, or three in my case. Boston and New York experienced three glorious days of winter weather which made for well spent time with my family.

More than anything, my time in New York has allowed me to spend more time with my family compared to when I was living in Nashville. And they were missed, more than I realized.

Weekends home, time spent at our kitchen island catching up on life happenings, car rides to and from the bus station, my mother’s home cooked meals (oh my gosh, how I missed those, shout out to you mom), continually remind me how lucky I am.

Lots of reminiscing happening on this sunny Monday afternoon and feeling simply grateful.

xo.

 

 

The PA Diaries Feat. Esplanade

The Key takeaway from the office today; every decision being made is not going to be made at the office. Those decisions will be made at bars, parties, outings, coffee breaks, almost any place but the office.

Creativity fails us when we least expect it, and in my experience, it tends to be when I’m at work when I need that bottled creativity to unleash the magical powers I have imagined it to have in my head.

Creativity knocks on our heads when we are at a show when we are reading the latest edition of The Lenny Letter, listening to our favorite morning podcast on the subway, and the most reoccurring one for me when I’m laying in bed trying not to think.

Being the intern, the production assistant, the entry-level position, is your chance to be a sponge.

Soak it all in.

But, everything has its limits, everything does not mean you overwork yourself. Isolate yourself.

Go to happy hour, talk about the diabolical plans to jumpstart your own company with your like-minded and creative friends, go see a show and forget about the meeting you have in the morning.

The meeting isn’t going anywhere, but you are.

The PA Diaries Feat. Robbie

Your peers are in charge of your future, not your seniors.

Three months ago I started an excel sheet filled with contacts of local and national production assistants I have worked with. Over time, surely and slowly, the list has grown.

So far, I’m at 27 contacts.

I know I know, such a lengthy list.

But in all seriousness, it is.

I was chatting with one of my co-workers after work today and we talked about after graduation thoughts, entering the industry, finding freelance jobs, and doing whatever we could to stay afloat in an industry, or in my case often times, a position, so saturated.

Production assistants are everywhere, more important, they are needed in everywhere.

I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s important to bring it up, people can get nasty in this industry. A sense of entitlement overwhelms the younger generation so often as if they did something to deserve the education they are asking for.

Begging for work from the generation thirty years older than us, we forget thirty years from now they won’t be around to assign us tasks. Instead, the people we’re surrounded by, working with at the same level, running the same mundane errands with, they will be the ones recommending our names to companies and show calls.

We are our best advocates, and entitlement will be one’s downfall if they can’t show kindness.

It’s worth it to congratulate the intern who was assigned an incredible task with a certain artist, the co-worker who achieved major recognition after a job well done, or a pat on the back to the production assistant who messed up and needs a helping hand.

It all sounds silly and sounds so basic, but sometimes the basics are forgotten because we’re too busy looking ahead. Look around you instead, and your peers will stand beside you as your advocate.

Thanks for sparking this convo Robbie, you’re the real MVP.

 

Year 6, Manassas

*This past Thursday I took the train to Virginia for Farm Aid’s 31st annual benefit concert. After six years, this show has remained a calendar event for myself and hundreds of other production crew members.* 

A little bit older and only a teensy bit wiser, I made my way to Manassas for year six of Farm Aid. Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

To most, the title ‘assistant’ is scorned with failed coffee-runs and over-worked and under-paid nightmares. The word you hate to say but, your boss loves to use. This summer, it slowly became the opposite for me. The title became less relevant as my worth shifted from association with a name and closer to the work I pour into my career.

I am a product of my boss and his or her teachings. As a by-product of mentors, and experience, I continue to be a work in progress.

In concert production, people can get hungry. Hungry as in, “I’m going to eat all the turkey and you’re not getting any.”

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My boss & Farm Aid’s Production Manager, Charlie

Yes, that is a metaphor for any task thrown at a production assistant’s direction.

Production isn’t something you go to school for, it isn’t something you earn a degree in, it just happens. You learn ‘it’ when you talk with elders when you stop begging for tasks and start asking for stories.

Talk with elders and become a part of their story. Have a lasting impact on their life the same way they had one on yours.

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Working can become a routine so easily, going through the motions of a show can become mundane. One thing that will remain everchanging are the conversations you pour time and thought into.

Your story is a road trip down the East Coast. You boss’s is a collection of photos and unthinkable happenings from around the world.

 

The Production Assistant Diaries: THE Recap

At this moment in my life, silence is a luxury. Forklifts hum their background noise, cases whisper through their wheels, and music resonates all throughout the stadium.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetThree months ago, I hung in this sort of limbo. Drained from classes, yet desperate for a five-year plan. Dazed and in a funk, funk, feeling like I had my shit together was far from my reality.

91 days of investing in what my heart told me to do later, things feel right. Penciling in answers instead of using ink, establishing a tentative map for future goals, and making decisions based on my own happiness made my summer with Live Nation everything I hoped for and what I never anticipated.

8 takeaways from this summer…

1. Trying to be ahead of the game doesn’t always do the trick. I learned the most when I was sitting in on conversations, listening, observing and watching. I was surrounded by a Processed with VSCO with c1 presetcompletely new crowd of people, one where I didn’t have my usual network to turn to. Learning behavioral patterns of people, adjusting to environments, observing my boss handle and resolve small fires- a game changer

2. There is a difference between saying ‘it is what it is’ and living it. Hearing and reciting the phrase is one thing, living it is another. Choosing to accept some circumstances are completely out of my control sometimes means accepting that. Like that time the bus I hired to transport the staff for Coldplay breaking down and arriving two hours late, good times, good times.

3. Veterans are veterans for a reason. They did the work to get to where they were, whether a tour director, stage manager or production manager. Embrace the role of the rookie, and don’t be afraid to strike out. Ask the veterans questions, annoy the crap out of them until they tell you to quiet down, be a reminder that you are the next Processed with VSCO with b1 presetgeneration and are there to learn from them. They remember what it was like.

“Don’t be discouraged and think you aren’t capable, you are. You simply have not learned the job yet,” Frank, our good ole’ accountant

4. Divas will be around. We work to make the artists happy, if there is something they want, they are used to getting it. There is nothing wrong with that, it is their show after all and we are employed partially thanks to them and their talents.

“Sometimes, you have to leapfrog in this business,” Dave Marsden

5. Don’t be quick to judge. I have met some of the smartest and most worldly people over a short period of time. No matter where they came from, what instrument they played or job they honed, I have become fascinated with hearing anyone and everyone’s story. That is the beauty of this world, no one’s story is identical.

“You haven’t failed enough to grow yet,” Ed, BPFS

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6. Remind yourself what it’s like to be a part of a crowd. My favorite part of a show day is during the middle of a show. Centering myself in the middle of the floor, I watch. Watch the show, watch the fireworks, watch the people. Mostly the people. To them, the show is magic. To me, magic is watching their faces.

7. Be humble. Celebrate the fact you are at the bottom of the ladder, because, to most outsiders, you are already at the top.

8. Being nice may not solve the problem, but it will make the problem easier to solve. 

Earlier this morning, before load-in for Barbra Streisand went into full swing, I sat in one of the empty club seats, looking into an almost naked and practically silent Boston TD IMG_8058 (1)Garden. The slightest inclination there was a concert in less than 12 hours was the carpenters measuring the length and width for the stage.

Magic doesn’t happen when we sit around and wait. I watch it unfold after hours being onsite, fostering relationships with co-workers and being an audience member to the professionals I’m surrounded by. Magic unveils itself at the end of the night when I look into the audience knowing I gained something valuable that day; experience.

AND last but certainly not least, my final note from this summer…

It’s true, a summer fully immersed in shows, production days and meeting different personalities will 100%, without a doubt, add more edge to your style.

I now own ripped black skinny jeans. Talk about 180-degree turn.

The Final List

  1. The 1975, Tsongas Arena, May 18th, 2016
  2. Adam Sandler, Agganis Arena, May 26th, 2016
  3. Selena Gomez, TD Garden, May 28th, 2016
  4. Beyoncé, Gillette Stadium, June 3rd, 2016
  5. Ellie Goulding, TD Garden, June 15th, 2016
  6. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, June 17th, 2016
  7. Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, Hatch Memorial Shell July 3rd & 4th, 2016
  8. Luke Bryan, Gillette Stadium, July 15th & 16th, 2016
  9. Guns and Roses, Gillette Stadium, July 19th & 20th, 2016
  10. Coldplay, Gillette Stadium, July 30th, 2016
  11. Drake, TD Garden, August 10th, 2016
  12. Pitbull, TD Garden, August 12th, 2016
  13. Barbara Streisand, TD Garden, August 16th, 2016

 

The Production Assistant Diaries: From The Girl Who Brought You Your Coffee

Thank her for your coffee. Look her in the eye, and appreciate the fuel boost she delivered.

Look her in the eye, and appreciate the sweet caramel iced coffee she lost a breath over when hesitantly ordering. She most likely was nervous the entire time trying to remember if it was 1% or skim milk. When she brings it to you, acknowledge her. Big or small, your appreciation means more to her than the check in the mail.

When you look at him or her, flashback to 15 years ago, 20 years, 30 years, however long ago, and remember when you were in the same boat. Remind yourself of the times you stumbled over your own words when introduced to the booking agent of the company, the stage manager, or anyone who was in a superior position.

The girl who brought you your coffee is just as nervous as you were 15 years ago.

She is still overwhelmed when she is assigned the simplest task, even after 7 years. She’s nervous to ask you questions without coming on as too overbearing or enthusiastic.

She is capable and has a brain full of thoughts ready to share. All she needs is an honest and sincere opportunity to share. Invite her into the conversation. She won’t jump in without being told because she doesn’t want to step on toes, but trust me, in her head she is reciting her ideas to an imaginary crowd that eagerly nods heads with ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’.

She is ready to fail. More than you believe, despite her sensitive demeanor. Her failure will thicken her skin and she knows that. She knows the music industry is tough because she has heard the stories.

She will not learn until she has failed 100 times then 100 times more, she will not become a mentor to the next eager 15-year-old if she herself does not halve someone to look up to.

We never stop learning, we never stop being nervous around those superior to us, and we will never stop needing the coffee some production assistant panicked over getting you.