Thinking About The Entertainment Industry?

music & arts: the realities of production


Think the entertainment industry is like the 3 hour awards shows we see four to five times a year on TV?  I sure hope not, because even though certain rockstars, moviestars, and broadway stars are constantly being taken care of, those who work in this industry are actually “working” and working, “a lot.”  And take it from me, it’s not always pretty.


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Let’s flashback 3 years to the winter of 2006.  I was a freshmen in college. I was taking my first real business class learning about types of competitive markets, vertical integration and contribution margin (what was that again?…{p-v} that’s right!), I was working for the University of Pittsburgh Theatre Arts department as a Scene Shop work study and was on their mailing list for departmental emails.  I received an email that Carnegie Mellon was looking for people with production experience to work on an independent film produced by CMU and other notable City of Pittsburgh Theatre Arts leaders.  I went and did a short interview, my experience in sound (from high school) was a little rusty at the time, but it was enough to get on the crew. I WAS WORKING ON A MOVIE…THIS IS GOING TO BE AMAZING!!!


In case anyone doesn’t know, even for some of the professional shots done in a movie today, days, weeks, and months are put into what ultimately comes out to be 30 seconds on the Big screen.  The realities of this industry were starting to sink in.  There were days sitting in an office building (our set) where I sat for 8 hours, held a microphone boom for maybe 2, and ultimately, there was about 3 minutes of movie time on tape.  For me, coming from musical theatre, and live pressure, this was probably the most boring experience of my life.  It was after this experience I realized, movies…not for me.


Flash forward now to the winter of 2007, I walk into the front door of Raven Sound and happen to run into the owner Phil Papotnik. I handed him a resume, and he said, “you contact me when you are out of school in the spring. You are going to have to keep contact with me if you really want this. We always need some more muscle around here to push gear around.” I re-contacted him in the spring and he put me on a load-in, first load- in for me as a sound professional…the Warner Theatre.  We back the truck up and there are a bunch of very big intimidating guys, and they start moving gear off the truck faster than you can turn your head.  Getting thrown into this craziness, THAT WASN’T EVEN THE SHOW YET…THIS WAS JUST THE LOAD-IN… another eye-opening experience.

Luckily for me, my personality type requires chaos, lack of planning, impromptu thinking, and a creative solution for my problems…the music industry is DEFINITELY the place for me.


Thousands at an 8 Great Tuesday's ConcertThis is what we “live” for.
click to enlarge

If you are thinking about starting out in the movie, music, or theatre business you have to ask yourself a few questions.
1. Can I work up to 90 hours in a week?
2. Can I be content with waiting for hours?
3. Can I be content of doing the work of 4 hours in 1?
4. Can I give up nights, weekends, and holidays?
5. Do I want to meet some of the craziest, meanest,cockiest, and demeaning people on earth?
6. Can I either push around heavy gear or be really good at taking coffee orders?…to start
7. Can I stand up the pressure when eyes are on me to run the show?
8. Can I accept failure and learn?
9. Am I okay with having a “thank-less” position in the entertainment world?


10. Can I work with some of the sharpest and insightful people I will ever meet? Those guys who love this stuff as much as I do and are willing to go through and sacrifice in the name of art and what we love doing?


If I could only fit all the crazy, scary, hilarious, stressful and enlightening stories of my experience in this blog post.  The bottom line is, regardless of the hard times in the industry…

Every techie will tell you…it’s that point in the performance when everything is working, the crowd is into it, and you know you have done your job…these MOMENTS…make it all worth it…

I can only speak from the technical aspect, rather than performance and talent.  I do know multiple people who have embarked on a career in performance, whether acting or music, and the beginning is just as rough and grueling as that of a techie.  But the bottomline is….we all love it and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Sick huh?

Over the course of his work at Raven, Nick has seen 90 hour weeks, heard stories of 36 hour days…Ask Phil Papotnik, Raven’s Owner, about it sometime.  The summer season is the craziest and sleep deprivation is just part of it.  But its all worth it when the show goes up and you are working with a team as dedicated as you are.  There is a lot to be said about working with same guys for 20 hours straight and then still hanging out with them when its all over.  You’d think we’d be sick of each other…

Work Hard, Take It Easy

Nick Corsi

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