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Production Etiquette

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

Obvious and not-so-obvious common courtesies and best practices for stagehands and event crew.

It's true, like most specialized trades, stagehands and stagecraft professionals have their own unique culture and etiquette associated. We've covered topics about vocabulary, style and even the perspective on the length of a work day. However, when we collect and present all the unique aspects of stagehand life, there is undeniably a code of ethics or general etiquette that we all kind of naturally follow. Those that resist don't seem to last long.

Crew Lead & Scenic Supervisor discussing the build, two stagehands wearing hardhats and PPE

Some of the rules are unspoken and some are clearly communicated. But in total, there exists a set of guidelines and principles that stagehands seem to hold to. It's worth mentioning that stagehand norms and mores do differ according to geographic location and even age group. But we wanted to pull together a general list of expectations and etiquette for new recruits and even veteran review. Not all these instructions may apply to crews everywhere, but they are a group of standards that will set most up for success if understood and practiced. We encourage our readers to comment and add perspective.

General Etiquette

  • Always look busy.

  • Assume every cable is hot.

  • Return spent lamps.

  • Mark bad gear.

  • Tape down cables last.

  • Keep the crew area tidy.

  • Nobody likes a gig jumper.

  • 10 hour day is a short day.

  • If you're late, bring donuts.

  • Always look busy.

  • ​Don't get caught napping.

  • Advise lead if schedule changes cause lunch penalty.

  • Do not engage the end-client directly unless instructed.

  • Do not go into someone’s workbox or road case without permission.

  • Mute your comm unless you’re actively speaking.

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

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

  • Never walk away from a project unless it’s safe.

  • Inform your lead immediately if you break, or find something broken.

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

  • Fill out start docks or new hire paperwork during breaks, before or after shifts.

  • Take off your headphones on the floor.

  • No unnecessary chatter over comm or radio

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

  • Notify someone if you walk off the floor.

  • Take phone calls or texts at the perimeter, not on an active show floor.

  • ​No breaks for show crew during the show.

  • No excuse to drop anything from a lift.

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

  • Plan your bio breaks.

  • Never nap on stage.

  • Always look busy.

  • Label your cables.

  • Set it like its drawn.

  • Slower is faster.

  • Fix the drape behind you.

  • Police your own gaff.

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

  • Smoke in designated areas.

  • Don't argue with the client.

  • Phones are silent.

  • Notify channel when going off comm.

  • Circuit as instructed.

  • Don't run over cables.

  • Bring your own tools.​

  • Call ahead if you're late.

  • Don't miss lobby call.

  • Call out cable swings or drops.

  • Call out when you move your boom or scissor lift.

  • Call out when truss is moving

  • Install for the out.

  • Always look busy.

  • Nobody leaves until the truck is loaded.

  • Show crew eats before the strike team.

  • Client food is not crew food.

  • Producer is always right

  • Park in designated crew areas.

  • Never use an impact wrench on truss.

  • Gaff in 90 degree angles.

  • Reset gear to factory settings.

  • Get approvals for change orders.

  • Don’t side load shackles.

  • ​Bring government issued ID and proof of right to work.

  • Strain relief aerial cables.

  • 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 thru it.

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

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

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

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

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