I want to be a lighting designer

gafftaper

Senior Team
Senior Team
Fight Leukemia
What a great old thread with some interesting new discussion keeping it alive.

In case there are any new people who find CB for the first time because of this thread, I want to link to my favorite article ever on CB: Getting a Job in the Industry. Read it several times and give a copy of it to a parent or trusted adult to read and discuss with you.
 

Amishplumber

Active Member
Hi all,

I'm a lighting tech/ designer/ projections guy currently splitting my time between Boston and NYC. I've got a good thing going with various overhire lists doing corporate gigs in both cities. I LD at a nightclub (LPR in NYC) and do some theater design work in Boston. I also get occasional gaffing and projection design gigs in both cities.

Things are going well in the cash flow department and as a recent college grad, I really can't complain, but I don't want to be focusing pinspots and auras at gala tables for the rest of my life. I'd like to get out on the road.

My dream is to design concerts. I'd love to LD a touring music act. In an extra special world, I'd love to design an entire touring concert (lighting, video, set) but now I'm just getting greedy. :)

How do I get there from here?

All the contacts I've been building are in the corporate and theater lighting worlds. I've gotten my foot in the door pretty well in these 2 industries and have a decent grasp of them. The touring world though, not so much. Who actually hires touring LDs? Does the record label hire a production company and then they just assign one of their full time guys to it? Do bands ever hire LDs directly? Should I try and approach bands directly, or get in as a tech at a bigger company and try to work my way up to designing?

I know everything is about who knows who, but where do I get my foot in the door to begin with?

I don't need a lot of gear to play with. I'd just love to give a concert the attention to detail I can give a 2 act play. Are there smaller touring production companies where I could get my foot in the door instead of trying to knock at the huge doors of PRG, Christie or Bandit?

Any advice on how to transition from the corporate world to touring would be super appreciated!
 

Judge

Active Member
Or you could go the Tharon Musser approach with your contract. Story goes that when she designed lights for A Chorus Line, she knew it'd be a hit so she agreed to work for next to nothing, but negotiated that'd she'd receive x% of royalties. Had the show bombed, she would've barely been paid anything. Her gamble paid off when the show was an incredible hit and she accumulated a small fortune over the years in royalties.

So the story goes, that is...
I heard a very similar story about the guy who was LD for Dire Straits. They were about to go out on a long, but low key tour to promote their new album "Brothers In Arms" Bear in mind that they were by far from being global megastars at this point. They had no money to pay LD so he said he would do it for $100 a week - plus points on the album. And he got the deal. And that album went platinum and is probably still a seller.
Nice work if you can get it!
 

soundman

Well-Known Member
Hi all,
All the contacts I've been building are in the corporate and theater lighting worlds. I've gotten my foot in the door pretty well in these 2 industries and have a decent grasp of them. The touring world though, not so much. Who actually hires touring LDs? Does the record label hire a production company and then they just assign one of their full time guys to it? Do bands ever hire LDs directly? Should I try and approach bands directly, or get in as a tech at a bigger company and try to work my way up to designing?

I know everything is about who knows who, but where do I get my foot in the door to begin with?

I don't need a lot of gear to play with. I'd just love to give a concert the attention to detail I can give a 2 act play. Are there smaller touring production companies where I could get my foot in the door instead of trying to knock at the huge doors of PRG, Christie or Bandit?

Any advice on how to transition from the corporate world to touring would be super appreciated!

LDs can be brought in by anyone. From the bands management company, the show designer, the lighting vendor, the production manager to the singers girlfriend can all have input into who gets the gig. There are smaller companies, looking at the Event Production Directory for your area will help with that. Likely they will have shop staff that have been coiling cable for years that want the gigs too and the shop will likely staff from within before hiring from the outside. But if it is a busy time you might get lucky.

Get on a music tour as a lighting tech or dimmer guy. Don't let the person hiring know you want to be a designer until after you have proven yourself as a tech. The last thing a company wants is the 6th lighting guy running his mouth off about how he could do a better job and pissing of the real LD who might have brought them the account. Offer to run lights for the opening act for $50-$100 a show. Get used to calling spots, dealing with house lights and artist interactions. Someone else will have designed the rig but it will be up to you to cue it and program it. Most often with little time early on because the head line and middle act will need time to make their changes. Better to have a simple show and nail the timing than try and stretch it thin. After a few tours either an act you worked with will call you know that they are carrying lighting or the company you are working for will send you out for bands that need an op/LD but don't have one.
 

lwinters630

Well-Known Member
...I am wondering what I need to know, become most familiar with to be a lighting designer?
Besides reading everything, figuring out when to use the rules and when to break them. I have also found learning how colors works extremely helpful. Mixing paint and mixing light are different, however a thorough understandings of both is needed. Find time on a stage or black box, lay out fabric, painted boards, props, etc and play with colors. There's a lot more than meets the eye (pun intended). It's a lot of fun to have an audience see colors that are not there or make other things change, move or even disappear by changing a color.
Best wishes to you.
 

derekleffew

Resident Curmudgeon
Senior Team
Premium Member
One of the Hot Topics on The View this morning was something about changing career aspirations, and this relevant tweet appeared onscreen:
theview_ld.jpg

I wonder what dear Jennifer G. is doing instead?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Van

Van

CBMod
CB Mods
Premium Member
One of the Hot Topics on The View this morning was something about changing career aspirations, and this relevant tweet appeared onscreen:
View attachment 14431
I wonder what dear Jennifer G. is doing instead?
I don't know what is the most interesting: The Fact that this tweet appeared on 'The View' or the fact that I just learned that Derek watches 'The View'...
 

Pie4Weebl

Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
Broadway designers maker 12K a year and are offered a full time job?
 

TNasty

Active Member
Broadway designers maker 12K a year and are offered a full time job?
Something just doesn't sound quite right there.
I know for a fact that when we've had lighting designers come in for a day or few, we spent in the $500-2000 range.

It's one of those pretty lucrative jobs, just like IT. People are oddly "afraid" of doing stuff that they see professionals doing, so people pay more money than the worker expects. One instance would be how I was given $40 for some tech support stuff that was really just an hour of sitting around while the thing just ran scans and stuff- Even $20 is more than I would have expected.
 

Users who are viewing this thread