This topic has 3 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 6 years, 8 months ago by Former Member Content Archive.

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     Scott Gerwitz
      • Experience: 20+ years
      • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

      Partner Member


      I am on the committee to interview a new technical director for the university I am the charge artist.

      I am having trouble coming up with questions to nicely ask if they are a painter-hater TD. I am sure you guys have worked with carpenters who do not like painters.

      The last TD was an amazing person! But he has retired. I am hoping to be able to continue to have this job be an enjoyable place to work.

      Any thoughts would be appreciated!


      Scott Gerwitz

       Tina Yager
        • Experience: 15-20 years
        • Scenic Status: Full Time Freelance

        Tricky. I have been lucky enough to be on similar committees and even if you can’t think of the right questions you might be able to pick up on personality styles that compliment your own at the very least.

        The only questions I can think of are the conflict resolution style standards. Or, maybe asking about their experience working in a one person or small shop? I’ve yet to meet a TD who hasn’t been the props/paint/carp all in one or at least in a role wearing multiple hats in their early career. Maybe asking them about how they balanced that work load or what they appreciated the most about having that extra role filled in a future project.

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         Angelique Powers
          • Experience: 20+ years
          • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

          Member Member

          I would ask about their process for setting up the build schedules and how they collaborate with the Scenic Charge.

          The TD’s I love working with, will work with me in terms of giving me the set pieces somewhat un-assembled so that I don’t have to spend as much time masking and can work faster (ex giving me a big pile of trim to paint on saw horses before the carps attach, tall walls broken apart and on a floor verses having to do it all on a ladder)

          -They will work with me on substrate choices – ie a would plywood or a mdf be better for the effect I have to paint, and understand how that would effect my budget for time and labor and product costs.

          The TD’s I have lousy relationships are the “My Highway” types – they want to tell me what products to use and when to just “spray it all” even if its a nasty product that you don’t want airborne. They also will build it all together and then pass it off to to me making it that much harder and less efficient for me to paint.

          A good TD will often say that his first hire would be a Charge Artist before a Master Carpenter because they recognize its a skill they don’t have and how damn important it is.


          We hired a new T.D. last year, and I second a lot of the questions that were already addressed.

          Some of the questions that tend to be the most important to me are:

          1) How do you address or go about making your build schedule?

          (I try to ask about things like; how often they expect the charge to paint things vertical, and how they go about planning to try and avoid that. What kinds of things they plan to be pre-painted before install, like trim, etc.? How often they communicate with the charge in terms of build process and priorities, etc. If they talk to the charge before making the schedule, so that they can anticipate which paint techniques take longer (i.e. need to be started sooner) so that the process can be as efficient as possible for everyone involved)

          2) When you’re bidding a show, how do you involved the scenic charge in that process?

          (I’ve had T.D.’s in the past that just bid for the materials that they know and then expect the charge to make it work. I find it’s a much easier process to have those conversations earlier, because sometimes I’ve worked with a material that they haven’t (and vice versa), and we can actually save money (and time) with a different technique…If we’re both included in the process).

          3) How they prefer to delegate certain projects?

          (Do scenic artists do all the carving, or does carpentry do a rough cut and then scenic finishes it off? Do they make sure to finish everything with sanding/joint compound before handing it off to me, or am I expected to do it? (that’s something that I’ve had go both ways, but it really adds a lot of time that has to be accounted for somewhere, etc.)

          But, I think the most important part is getting to know their personality as much as you can to see how they deal with conflict/their sense of humor/adaptability,etc.

          I’ve been fortunate the last few years to have mostly lovely T.D.’s, and I think our ability to work well together all stemmed from open communication and ability to compromise early on, so that we set boundaries and figured out how to best support one another!

          This became a little more long-winded than expected, but I hope it helps! Good luck!

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