Oh my goodness it feels like years since I’ve written a new post! I apologize to all of you readers and I thank you for the continued support of comments and views while I was away. And a very merry welcome to new followers!
As you may know, I am a production assistant for Sesame Workshop, meaning I work at Sesame Street helping with a variety of tasks to make creating the show possible. The last few weeks have been crazy busy! We’ve been at the studio creating new pieces for the show. Although I can’t give you any clues as to what we did, I can tell you that I am surrounded by so many creative and talented professionals. The team never seizes to amaze me, the writers especially. The writers are so talented in creating content that is educational and entertaining for children, but also have content for the parents, guardians, babysitters, nannies, teachers or whoever is watching the children.
Since I’ve been away so long, I thought I would share with you the type of work I have been doing while I was away…
Our studio is at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens. The studio has been there from the very beginning! When we are shooting at the studio I have a variety of tasks to complete so everyone else can do their job smoothly. Let me give you a generally run through of my day…
The day before I will usually receive the running order. The running order is basically our shooting schedule for the day. I print and distribute copies to everyone the day before so they know if there have been any changes and what to have ready first. Some people receive timed running orders, which are the same thing but someone has written the actual times of when we should be doing what and how long it should take. This is how the producers, stage manager, director and a few others can see if we’re on time or not.
In the morning I come in and immediately check my email. Even though I handed out the running orders the night before anything can change in a matter of hours… minutes really. Sometimes there are no changes and sometimes I have to start all over again. Either way, in the morning I hand out any running orders to people who weren’t there the day before and put up two extra large printed copies on the studio doors and talent doors. During the day the production stage manager will cross out what we’ve completed so everyone knows where we are. And it’s a real motivator to see how much we’ve done!
In addition to my running around with running orders (see what I did there 😉 ) I set up snacks and waters in the control room, hand out walkie talkies, refill water coolers and make sure the stage manager has waters on set for the talent. You may have seen my quality snack presentation on my Instagram. These tasks are small but I take pride in them. The little things need to get done so the big project can be fully functioning.
At a break before lunch I check in to see who needs lunch orders. There might be a vocal recording or meeting during lunch, these people will need personal lunches ready for them. These people could be talent, producers, directors, clients, international partners… basically there’s a potential I’m getting lunch for someone who is important. I need to coordinate my time to make sure I can get all the lunch orders at a time that is not interrupting their work schedule, order the food with enough time for it to arrive on time, and set it up before the lunch break. Taking these lunch orders gives me an opportunity to meet some pretty amazing people. Taking lunch orders and going on coffee runs is how I first met a lot of people at Sesame who are the reason why I work here.
The rest of the day is a little less planned out. I can get a random phone call to go on a run to pick something up for the director or an email saying we’re making changes that I need to notify people of. Sometimes I have time to observe on set. I learn so much from just observing. It’s also a great time for people to learn more about me by coming over chatting when they have a break.
Studio time can be a little hectic. I can wake up at 5am and not be back in my precious bed until after midnight. Normal call time for me is 7:30am at the studio, but depending on the work load I might come in earlier to set up. A normal wrap time can be from 6pm – 9pm. On long days we work more than twelve hours. I’ve learned how to get into a routine to keep me going for an entire week. You learn to adapt your lifestyle to what work asks of you. There are weeks when I’ll wake up, go to work, go home, have dinner, shower, go to bed and never see my roommates. It can be tiring but studio time is my absolute favorite! I would rather be on set than anywhere else!
I was asked to help the stage manager for our Gala. You may have seen my pictures on Instagram for this as well. I was an assistant stage manager for the Sesame Workshop benefit dinner where we honor people for the extraordinary achievements and raise money for Sesame productions. The Gala is basically a dinner and a show. We have celebrity hosts, Muppet bits and a musical act. This year we had George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth as our hosts and the PS22 Chorus for the musical act. A stage manager’s job is to make sure the show runs smoothly and talent has their cues. This was a one day project so we arrived early for a meeting with the director. When I say “we”, I mean the 3 camera men, the teleprompter, the other assistant stage manager, the stage manager, the assistant director, the director and myself. The director went over the script with all of us to share his vision of when shots and entrances would take place. I was out in charge of all the Muppeteer entrances. I marked up my script to see who had to be where, when and with what.
I loved working the Gala because I had never done it before. It was kind of similar to my theater experience in high school, but I was never actually a stage manager. It gave me new exposure to something that I think I could do one day.
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks but I love the chaos. The constant need of things getting done gets my adrenaline pumping so I can keep going throughout the day. What I’ve learned from my time at Sesame Workshop is to do everything that is asked of you to your best potential and do it with a smile.
If you have a job that at first glance might not look too important, look again. You’ll be surprise how much you would be needed if you weren’t there. Make an impression by taking yourself and your job seriously. Go above and beyond the normal. It’s a great opportunity to show your potential, but most importantly you will be happier at your job.