I’ve just had a large job go south in kind of a spectacular fashion and it’s time to vent a bit.
A few months ago, an Aging Rockstar (let’s call him David St. Hubbins) I do lots of work for calls me up, tells me I’ll be designing the stages for his upcoming world tour, and tells me exactly how I’ll be designing them. I explain to David that while I’ve done stage sets, it’s been in collaboration with stage managers, light designers, etc, and that I’ve got no clue how to do a major world tour set, but I’m happy to do a few Photoshop renders of his idea to pass along to people who know what they’re doing. Sure, he says. So I do so. He loves them. We refine them bit by bit and he tells me the band’s signed off and it’s time to manufacture.
I remind David that I know zero about manufacturing or hanging or engineering stage sets. “Sure you do, it’s fine, get it done,” he tells me. Okay, so I find a manufacturer, work out how it’ll be hung and staged, get a budget, and engineer the thing. Along the way, David mentions that his ‘lighting guy’ wants to chat. So I give his ‘lighting guy’ a call.
Turns out his ‘lighting guy’ is a professional stage designer with 40 (!) years of experience who is on David’s staff, and is rightfully a bit taken aback to find out that a dork with zero knowledge of stage design has been doing his job behind his back. He tells me my designs are a bit challenging but he’ll make them work, just give him a few days.
Two days later I get a call from David. The stage designer told him I was a moron with shit designs. They fired me on the spot, stopped answering my emails and calls, and I have no idea how the upcoming tour will look. But I’m fascinated.
Not a penny. My initial work was all a big lead-up to getting in contact with the stage manager to get a contract signed. But as I was let go before that happened, and none of my work was used, I was offered two tickets to a show as compensation for my time. It was a bit of a gamble for a very large payoff that didn’t work out.
But you’d done lots of work for the guy in the past, so it wasn’t a crazy gamble under the circumstances.
My guess is that he was trying to do it on the cheap for some reason, and because you let the cat out of the bag, the other guy threw a hissy fit and insisted it was him or you, so of course it was you (Last In-First Out).
I think you’re half right. Knowing this guy, I think what happened was that his staff stage designer suggested a pretty boring but easily-built and affordable design, and rather than say no and risk antagonizing him, the client went behind his back and had me draw up his (pretty unrealistic, to be fair) idea, figuring that he could eventually get his two designers to chat and, being Creative Guys, we’d hug and smile and he’d see my brilliant work and be amazed!
Instead, the guy most definitely threw a hissy fit and threatened to quit if they didn’t use his design, so it was him or me.
In fact, I’m already working on a new project for him, or to be specific, for his management (under a contract). As to why I’d use a pseudonym for him, well, I know better than to be a gossip monger, frankly. And besides, how do you know I’m not actually speaking of Spinal Tap?
I read the obit and it said it was thought she was 59. She could have shaved a few years off, but I always thought she was slightly older than Kevin Spacey and John Cusack (even though Cusack is seven years younger than Spacey).