Y-16a: The Production Sound/Video Trainee
We don’t hear a lot about Local 695’s Y-16a Production Sound/Video Trainee but it’s a position that has been finding its way onto a wider range of film and television productions as it becomes more useful to both Producers and 695 production crews.
WHAT IS THE Y-16a?
Local 695’s Y-16a Production Sound/Video Trainee can be hired to work alongside any video crew or production sound crew. As the name suggests, this is a Trainee position, but these aren’t newbies. In fact, virtually all Y-16a’s come to the set with solid experience in the responsibilities and job tasks they’re expected to perform. Most of our Y-16a’s have extensive history in production sound and/or video and bring considerable talent to the job. For example, on a production sound crew, Y-16a’s can set up the carts, jam slates, swing an extra fishpole, lay out sound dampening carpets, set up the red lights and bell, service Comteks, prep the wireless mics, operate music playback equipment, secure gear for safe travel and lots more. Y-16a’s can provide support for video crews in all aspects of setup and video engineering.
One important thing to note is that the Trainee doesn’t replace an existing journeyman position on the crew but can be used as an additional hire to increase the efficiency of a standard-sized crew when the production company can benefit from extra help. Within one year as a Trainee, the Y-16a upgrades their status to a journeyman classification.
HOW PRODUCTIONS SAVE MONEY WITH A Y-16a
We’re very aware of the cost constraints that Producers face in every aspect of production. While one might assume that an extra hire represents additional expense, we have enough experience at this to assert with confidence that adding an extra person to the crew at the Trainee rate will consistently SAVE the company money in the form of improved production efficiency. There are many ways to pick up a few minutes on production. Our crews use Y-16a’s so the company doesn’t experience delays when multiple video monitors need to be relocated quickly or when there’s a large number of actors waiting to get wired and when the shooting schedule calls for challenging company moves.
Producers and some of our own members have told us that they didn’t know this option existed, but once they hired a Y-16a, it was easy to see the cost benefits when sound and video crews are able to complete the work with greater efficiency on heavily loaded days.
WHAT ABOUT THE INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE ROSTER?
The unique thing about the Y-16a is that, as a Trainee, although they must meet all of our expectations before even being considered for the job, it’s not necessary for a Y-16a to have previously completed all the requirements of placement on the Industry Experience Roster. In fact for many, it’s the days worked as a Y-16a that satisfy the Roster Placement requirements. The big bonus is that 695 members in this job classification have access to first-class apprenticeship training that would be completely unavailable anywhere else.
DIVERSITY IS OUR FUTURE
The film and television industry has long been known for attracting creative and energetic young people and yet for reasons we are all aware of, many of them face a variety of hurdles that can sometimes block entry into the industry. Given those obstacles, we’re excited when we have the chance to work with studios and production companies who share our commitment to implementing diversity initiatives that extend job opportunities for underrepresented members of our community. For that reason we want to be sure that Producers know that the Y-16a job classification can be used to offer employment opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach. Industry Roster Placement can be a significant impediment for many who seek entry into the motion picture business, but since Roster Placement is not a requirement for the Y-16a, this path opens doors for women and men who struggle for a way into our industry. Local 695 welcomes the chance to partner with Producers who share the desire to build a more diverse and inclusive production community.
Production Mixer George Flores uses Y-16a’s whenever he can, including Iris Von Hase and Daniel Quintana on FX’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He says, “On this fast-paced ensemble TV show, I believe the Producers were very happy with the Y-16a’s I brought in. One of my reasons to have had a Trainee in the Sound Department is to save time and ultimately save money and that always proves to be true.”
Y-16a Kendra Bates joined Production Mixer Scott Stolz and his crew, Alex Burstein and Cara Kovach, on The Affair for Showtime. Scott says, “Kendra was great to work with and a huge help to us and there’s no doubt that production benefited greatly from having her there.” Just a few months after wrapping, Kendra has already moved up to working as a Utility Sound Technician on Season 15 of Grey’s Anatomy.
Production Mixer Scott Harber gave Set PA Erik Altstadt a chance as a Y-16a on ABC’s Castle Season 7. Scott and the rest of his crew, Chris Walmer, Howie Erikson, and John Agalsoff, were able to share decades of production experience with Erik. And Scott says the Producers at ABC were quick to see the cost benefit in having the extra hand.
SUGGESTIONS TO VIDEO ENGINEERS AND SOUND MIXERS
Pay it forward. Use the Y-16a when you can. Help educate Producers to understand how this extra hire can save them money and open doors for young people who work so hard to get into this business. Make ours an industry of inclusivity and opportunity. And pass on your extensive knowledge and vast experience to an eager Y-16a who shares the energy, excitement, and enthusiasm that first brought you to Local 695.