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Production Mythology: The Legend Of The New Year’s Gig

Is working a gig on New Year’s an accurate indicator of how much we're going to be working in the coming year?

Every time the clock finally makes the last tick over to another year I’m reminded of a common superstition held by many working from the dark side of the room.

For ordinary folks, the holidays – and New Year’s in particular – are a time for celebrations and parties, and a large portion of them will require sound reinforcement.

It adds up to opportunities for crews that are prepared. So rather than dwell on missed opportunities, let’s learn from the past and make some plans to cash in on the next one.

Over many moons working as a freelancer, I heard dozens of crew members tell me that if I wasn’t working a gig on New Year’s, I probably wasn’t going to be working much that year. It’s actually not a complete myth. I found that there’s some truth behind it.

For the majority of us in the production community, work comes in seasons. We tend to pick up a few random off-season gigs during certain months, but during others, we can’t keep up with the workload. After a while, it gets pretty simple to pick out the patterns. We figure out which gigs come during which seasons and learn to plan ahead.

If we’re doing good work, chances are high that we’ll be offered more prestigious shows. Nobody wants to gamble with their bread and butter events, they want the “A-Team” fully on board and engaged. Most New Year’s events count as critical bread-heavy and butter-demanding gigs.

I’m not saying that all those lovely black shirts that stayed clean when the fireworks went off only belong to slackers and troublemakers; but the odds are better for those working in production who have initiative. The ones who take ownership and responsibility for their assignments become assets, and they’ve earned trust and confidence.

Mixing skills fall second to attitude and work ethic in many cases. If your New Year’s moment isn’t spent making money, you may have missed an opportunity.

Making ourselves more valuable by developing sharper skills and a constantly winning attitude is not a bad thing. Quite the opposite, in fact. The process can start by simply deciding which facet of production most excites you. Figure out your market. Develop your skills. Get your feet walking the right ground and jam a foot in the door.

Building a career freelancer is often as easy as introducing yourself to as many people, in person, as possible. Get to know more folks in your chosen field and look for ways to help them. Make yourself available to solve the little problems. Bring solutions to the table and deliver them with grace. Humble, honest, teachable, and hungry for more will bring clients out of the woodwork over the long haul.

Even if you aren’t celebrating the new year this time out with a check, it’s still a great time to make a fresh start.

Decide, right now, to step it up this year. Make new contacts. Get to know them. Look for a problem to solve. Then do it again. Keep your lips sealed unless you have something beneficial to offer, and avoid griping and gossiping. It comes down to behaving as a true professional in as many relevant areas as possible.

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Gigs like New Year’s events are going to happen every year. Working that one particular night is a good indicator that you’re trusted to keep the bread buttered, so keep striving to stay busy that night and as many others as possible.

Oh, by the way, Happy New Year!

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