We’ve all done it, we’re all still doing it, and at some point working in this industry you’ll end up filling out that W-9 and working at a community theatre, trade show or other job.
Working for TLS has been an amazing experience for me, but as a designer I have to “scratch that itch” and get out in the regional theatre world to not only satisfy the need to be creative, but to keep my chops up in the industry and stay up-to-speed with different design techniques and systems.
For this month I wanted to jump into my world of being a freelance designer in the Michigan Theatre scene, and what I’ve learned in the last decade.
Since the summer of 2009, starting with The 8th Wonder Theatre Company, I have worked on at least 2 or more freelance theatrical productions a year.
I was very lucky to have attended a school like Eastern Michigan University that allows students to work on professional shows while taking classes.
My early beginnings into the freelance world was met with a lot of “firsts” including the fact that as a new freelancer, people will always tty and squeeze as much work out of you as possible, regardless of what you “signed up for” upfront.
Being a student and wanting to learn as much as possible, I tried my best to use these experiences as teachable moments and further my education in the field.
That being said, I was still tired all the time, over-worked and definitely under-paid, but I loved what I was doing.
Flash forward 5 or so years and I got my job here at TLS Productions…where I quickly learned I wouldn’t be doing much design work for stage, trade shows or otherwise.
EMU, utilizing the fact I didn’t move out of town, began hiring me to design for one show a year for them.
This lead to me keep in contact with current students and soon-to-be-graduates to get them into the freelance field, and hopefully help them on the path of success in the field as well.
Recently I’ve worked with The Encore Musical Theatre, Penny Seats Theatre Company, Theatre Nova & Williamston Theatre.
Each experience has been amazing in their own ways, and with the EMTC, I was nominated for BroadwayWorld Detroit’s 2018 Regional Theatre Award for Best Lighting Design.
With Williamston I have dove further into the Technical Direction field, and I have learned so much about construction, budgeting and above all else, collaboration amongst those who are very fresh to the industry.
Over all I love being able to freelance in the area, and the local theatre scene has been very generous to me through the years and I can’t wait for the next opportunity is offers me!
Please feel free to Contact Dustin D. Miller and send over your questions for next month’s entry, comments on this month’s entry and any and all follows ups on my reviews, tutorials and other content.
Design & Conquer My Friends!