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Director thinks he should get LD credit...

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Stuart R, Apr 12, 2018.

  1. Stuart R

    Stuart R New Member

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    Hello all -

    I've got a fun situation where the stage director at my middle school believes he should get playbill credit as the LD. Here's the situation: I arrived this fall as the new arts program director. There was no budget for an LD, and since I have a reasonably strong background in lighting design, I took responsibility for the lighting this year. Because we have lots of varying events in the space, and little time for complete resets in between, I decided to design a rep plot that we'd use for everything this year, reserving a number of extra instruments for use as specials and so forth. I installed the rep rig with some help from a couple of other people on staff. When our fall/winter musical rolled around in January, I met with the Director to talk about his needs and concept for the show, and tweaked the rep plot accordingly. Based on the director's requirements and my own sensibilities, I created submasters for various types of area lighting, chose the gel colors, got some gobos going, etc. in anticipation of writing the cues.

    At this point there was a collision with past history. It turns out that for the last few years, my predecessor (also a capable lighting person) also took care of the show lighting, but in a strangely passive way, functioning more as an ED than an LD. Basically, he and the director would set up a marathon lighting session, and starting at the top of the show, go through the script page by page, with the director dictating lighting instructions, more or less in the moment. "Ok, for this one, I want some nice blue light coming from over here, and a special light for the soloist right... here," and the (ED) would run up a ladder and hang and cable the instruments.

    One feature of the "design" was a line up of PARs in the first FOH position to serve as general illumination. [My GI is a modified McCandless style approach with Source4s or Fresnels for key/fill, and top/back/side washes for blending and toning.] When I removed the array of FOH PARs in preparation for hanging the rep plot, the director was horrified.

    In any case, the guy before me allowed the director to call the shots, though I'm sure he offered his own advice and ideas along the way. When it was time to put together the playbill for the show, there would be no LD or ED listed.

    Back to this year. I introduced the idea of the rep plot to the director, explaining that we'd have lots of "ingredients" with which to bake our "cake," but would need to use what we already had in the pantry, plus a few special requests. I assured him that the stage could be subdivided into all kinds of areas for isolated lighting, that there was color available from all angles, and so on. I then scheduled a couple of 2-3 hour sessions for cue writing, in lieu of the killer overnight sessions undertaken in the past.

    We got to the cue sessions, and I immediately found that my draft cues were ignored. Rather than calling out "I need you to hang three lights over here pointed in this direction," the director said "what do these look like over here?" and soon after that started dictating the cue placement, timing, and contents directly to the board op. I put in my two cents, but wasn't really heard by the director, who was in his accustomed creative playing-with-lights reverie. I quickly figured out that it was a much better idea for me to sit with the board op and have him tweak what the director had just asked for, rather than trying to challenge the director, um, directly. [Later, I continued to adjust the cues based on what I saw. I didn't make any major or wholesale changes, but generally made what the director had in mind look much better.] When it came time to do the playbill, I listed myself as the LD.

    So now we're going into Musical #2, and I'm about to schedule the cue setting sessions (once again using my rep plot as a starting point, with some extra instruments available as needed). Meanwhile, I just heard from the graphic artist who does the playbill. The director submitted a list of the production staff, and listed himself as LD, and me as (co) TD with the guy who does AV for the non-performing arts events in the space. IClearly, the director thinks that because he takes such an active role at cue writing time, he is the de facto lighting designer. My opinion is that he is no more the LD than he is the set designer or the costumer designer, even though the professionals in those roles are, to a certain extent, responding to his vision in their designs and their execution.

    [Years ago, I witnessed a major blow up between a director and set designer, with the director thinking of (and treating) the set designer as his personal draftsman, rather than a creative professional. The director had all of his staging planned out, and wanted a door here and a window there, and maybe a windmill over there, and could the designer make the backdrop look something like *this* (shows photo of someone else's show) but using more earth tones?]

    Just because the director got the last guy to roll over and be his b%$&#, doesn't mean that I'm going to do the same. The last time around, I was brand new, and let him assert control a little more than I should have, but things will be different this time. I will insist that we use my draft cues as a starting point, and will also establish a rule where I am the only one communicating programming instructions to the board op. It could be ugly. We'll see. I

    In any case, I'm just curious if any of you have encountered this sort of phenomenon/situation. What do you think?
     
  2. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Is this the same place where you're the Arts Program Chair?
     
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  3. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    If you are the head of the program, it would seem to me that you are the one with the control. You should have final approval of the program, who is in what position, and what the job description of each position is. If you are the authority, be the authority.
     
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  4. TheaterEd

    TheaterEd Renaissance Man Fight Leukemia

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    I work with one director that functions in a very similar manner. I set the plot to achieve the vision he describes to me and then we go through the script and put cues where he wants them. He knows exactly what he wants, just has no idea how to make that actually happen. That's what makes me the LD, and him the Director. My ability to translate what he is saying and then give him what he actually wanted is what makes me valuable. For me, I'm getting paid the same either way, but he does a lot of the work for me. It's definitely a more collaborative process, but at the end of the day, he is the director and I am the LD. You are 100% correct in equating it to set and costumes, he has the vision, but your the one actually making it happen.

    If he wants to be the LD, then feel free to take down your lighting design and let him start from scratch.
     
  5. JChenault

    JChenault Well-Known Member

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    Something I try to teach my students ( not theatre - Software)
    What is the business problem you are trying to solve.

    In this case it sounds like you have a marginal situation - but does it really matter who gets the program credit? I would opine that your efforts might be better placed in figuring out how to work with this (possibly power mad) director to bring him into a place where collaboration is possible.

    Instead of dealing with the question of 'who gets billing' have a discussion with him about how you might have a better, more efficient way of getting to what he wants. You mentioned your draft cues were ignored - did you talk with him about your ideas for cueing early on? You might try "I want to get the show hung before we cue so that we can be more efficient. To do this we need to talk about what cues you are envisioning two weeks before we start writing anything".

    IE try to get him using a better process - and gratefully accept baby steps in the right direction.

    Just a thought.
     
  6. soundofsparks

    soundofsparks Member

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    I agree with JC. I think this is all a teachable moment in collaboration. On the next project, you should make him sit down with all the designers for a lengthy design meeting so everyone can express their ideas. Explain that it is important that all members of the team work together as peers. I think it is important to set a base line status. Then instead of a cueing session, do a paper tech. Tell him where you plan to have cues and what they will do. You guys can hash it out at a table and then you make the cues on your own.
     
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  7. Doug Lowthian

    Doug Lowthian Active Member

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    Wait...you have a director with an over-inflated ego and an under-inflated sense of technical application?

    How unusual......

    /Snark......:)
     
  8. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Unless this credit is crucial to your resume, I'd let it go.
     
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  9. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @SteveB Sometimes it's just the principal of the thing. If you're paying me well, keep your phuquing credit. If I'm volunteering 120 hours out of the 168 in a week, then I'd at least like my credit, even more so if I've been creating pure magic for you with your collection of beat up old fixtures, four 6-pack dimmers and analog, pre-DMX board that you can never trouble yourself to put the dust cover over after you've been getting your rocks off and chewing potato chips over it.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  10. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Seems if you’re volunteering your time is too precious to bother with petty stuff like this. Maybe an age attitude as I could care if I get credit now. If you are younger and starting out, maybe more important.
     
  11. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Agree with Steve.... who cares. Also, if its his cues do you really want to attach your name to it? Let him go nuts. Its a middle school show. Go get a nice coffee beverage while cueing is happening, go to your office, kick your feet up, and watch some youtube. No one cares about production credits in the program anyway. Does your check clear? Good... you got what you needed.
     
  12. spenserh

    spenserh Member

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    I disagree, have the carps mark up a ring and fight to the death. Winner gets to have both LD and Director credits.

    But for real, I agree that it's not a big deal. If you had spent hours designing the most beautiful lighting design it would obviously be a different story.
     
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  13. TimMc

    TimMc Well-Known Member

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    It's about picking your battles wisely. Is this egomaniac worth engaging over *this* ?

    I will say though, that this personality type will steam-roller you over other things and if you see this as a "nip it in the bud" situation it may be better to challenge him now rather than later. Ultimately this is a toxic person who will drive you crazy. Either find some passive-aggressive way to shoo him away or be prepared to deal with the escalation of his issues with every show.

    I'd be updating my resume, just in case.
     
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  14. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @TimMc As you wrote: "It's about picking your battles wisely." Have you ever noticed my photo in a thread here on CB entitled something like 'Putting a face to the name?' The custom T-Shirt I'm wearing was my response to a rather annoying beligerent Personal Service Worker (PSW) we had here at the time and, as you wisely pointed out, I chose my battle wisely by using my computer and phone to support a local custom T-Shirt company by ordering four identical T-Shirts in four bright colors. I live in them 24 / 7. After more than a year of steady use and the rigors of our nursing home's laundry, I ordered 7 more for a total of 11 in 7 different colors. My shirts have even attended at least two funerals serving as undershirts under suitable dress shirts. 21 meals per week, every week, my shirts make my point in our communal dining room. No fisticuffs, no bloodshed, and no words necessary. My T-shirts speak for me and clearly made, and continue to make, my point.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  15. kicknargel

    kicknargel Well-Known Member

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    Much good advice here. A director is ultimately in charge of all creative elements of a show, and can collaborate in a wide range of styles. Some will have almost no input, some will have a very clear vision for you to execute, some will say "show me something," and then give notes. And on. To be a pro you have to adapt to (and collaboratively improve the process of) every different team, or quit ones that are too toxic.

    On a technical level, unless the director is deciding which instruments go where, and what levels in each cue, you're the LD and should be credited as such. Whether that's a battle worth fighting is up to you.
     
  16. kendal69

    kendal69 Active Member

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    This is simple - Change your title to "LIGHTING FACILITATOR" ," LIGHTING COORDINATOR" ,"LIGHTING MASTER" , "HEAD LIGHTING GURU", etc etc. He gets his title, and you get your title on a separate line. The general public does not know what a LD is anyway. Problem Solved.
     
  17. Dawn

    Dawn Member

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    As a middle school director, I'd be so grateful to have someone helping me with anything that I'd give them God status in the Playbill if they wanted it.
     
  18. Chroma

    Chroma Member

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    "but we've always done it this way..." yech.

    As a leader in a school setting, your influencing what these kids are seeing. I'm a professional and academic (so this may a little heavy for middle-schoolers) I have a mission to teach the professional model, even if its a little watered down for younger kids. If your goal is to get butts in seats and make a little ticket money, then that's the mission. Just survive it. (we've all been there...) I'm looking at your long game here, because this sitch isn't going to change. If there is an educational element to this, then there needs to be solid job descriptions and reasonable expectations based on the professional industry. This is a major shake up. This guy will resist of course, so this is where you get help from higher in the food chain. Make this student centered, and THAT will get good attention and SUPPORT (hopefully). Establishing new student activities, clubs and involvement is never easy, but it a good way to lay down boundaries, AND protection. This could be more then you bargained for, so I'll leave it at that.
    As far as program credit, as long as you have someone in your references who will stand up for whats on your resume and vita, let the little guy have his cookie. I know that some places need someone who will do everything, but the one who feels that they MUST do everything, is doing a disservice to students who could find a place for themselves.
     
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  19. dolphinmother

    dolphinmother Member

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    I'm with you Dawn. As a former high school director, I can't imagine having that problem.
     
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