ProLightingSpace

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What inspires you at work?

 

I write a blog about outdoor festival, concerts, and general nightclub lighting. So what happens if I’ve reported on every festival, haven’t gone out to a club, or have anything new at the 3 clubs I work at? Well I skipped a week of reporting last week and felt really bad that I couldn’t get my butt of the couch and go explore more downtown clubs. So last Friday I went to downtown Orlando with the full intention of going to 3 new clubs and reporting on them. Here’s the one problem, I don’t go to clubs anymore because my real fun is music festivals. So I decided to catch up with some friends to help aid in the nightly ritual of bar hopping. I downloaded a great app for note taking, got my club wear on, and headed downtown with the intention of bringing some fun facts to you the reader (even if it is only my 1 friend Jordan reading) about some club gear. Here is the second problem with that idea; I forgot how much my friends drink! I forgot how much disposable income my single friends have, and I forgot how much they buy drinks for me. I think you can see were this is going.  Needless to say, yes I got really drunk and enjoyed the pretty lights but made no sense when I was talking to the techs about their club gear. I had a designated driver and my friends proceeded to get me so wasted I couldn’t see my tiny phone scene or touchpad, and with drunk brain I completely thought I could remember everything gear wise, but couldn’t. Are you giggling at me yet, you should because I should have known better to think I could go clubbing AND do a writing assignment.

This all leads back to what should I write about this week? So I decided to go to the basics. What inspires you at work? This is a good topic because techs are weird people. I’m sorry but we are the weirdest people with extreme personalities. So I know that for every tech that honestly answers what inspires them, we will get some great feedback. I will try not to bore you too much with what inspires me by making it a super short story. It goes like this.

            My mom was a super Christian, you know the type that was raised not to watch TV or go to movies. When she gave birth to my sister and I, she did the un-thinkable, she decided to sin and take us kids to see ‘Bambi’. She cried so much and decided right then and there that movies were the best thing that ever happened in her life. So at age 6 I started going to triple features at the dollar movie on Saturdays. Yes I said triple features. We would pack our lunches and snacks in a large bag (back in the mid 70’s the movie workers didn’t care if you brought your own food in) and spent all day enjoying sometimes the same movie over and over again. I watched Empire Strikes Back 17 times. Going to movies left its mark in the best way possible. When I was 21 I decided I would work on movies sets and started volunteering at a local PBS station. Within 1 year I was standing on the set of Steven Segal’s “Under Siege”. I worked on movie sets for 4 years as an electrician and was the happiest person you could have ever met. I went back to TV when my daughter was born and then moved to Orlando. What to do, what to do, movies weren’t an option, and there were only local TV news (yuck) so I started doing club lighting. NOW there is a fun job. Listening to music, interpreting sounds and trying to make shapes or keep the energy of the room going. Anyone can do ‘flash and trash’, but it takes true skill to create moods and excitement. I particularly enjoyed my job at Mannequins Dance Palace because it was Electronic Dance Music 7 nights a week. That is the most perfect music to have different fixtures following specific instruments. Different static light for piano hits, fast rapid strobes for build-ups, beautiful gobo/multi-colored slow lights for the breakdowns, and of course the every important COMPLETE blackout. Anyone who runs lights for a nightclub completely knows what I’m talking about. What if you are a video tech or audio tech? Does everything I just said sound like the teacher from Charlie Brown. Tell me some of the beautiful things you go thru and what you strive for. I know if you submit a response, more people will chime in!!

            What inspires me at work? It is the simplest of things-a new song that blows my mind or a favorite song I can’t get enough of and I have the timing so down I look like a super hero to anyone watching me run lights. I dance while running a console if I like the music. If you have never seen me dance it is something very different and way out there. So imagine a full on dancing lunatic pressing a ton of buttons in time and with a big smile on her face. That’s what inspires me- great music with a descent rig, a good console and I’m there in heart and mind. I’ll work for $11 an hour because it doesn’t matter. I’m not there for the money at that point. There you have it. Music wins over money when it comes to inspiration. Can anyone else say that?

            When I first started in the industry I was so up to date on the newest technologies. I understood my craft from my mentors and no one else. There was no general cutthroat attitude that there is now. I was able to walk into a job with a smile on my face and a ton of sweat to contribute to hard work. I still enjoy some of my jobs now, but have a hard time keeping up with the new technology. I enjoy reporting on it on my blogs because techs are curious what’s out on the road. If I need to build a rig for a club I go to some trusted techs who know my style and know what I need to make a club slamming awesome. Maybe I haven’t been inspired lately and that’s why I don’t keep up on the tech side of it, who knows. I work in Casting Talent now as well and there isn’t a whole lot of tech stuff needed but I seem to be the expert in the lighting category. Basics are the most important thing in our career. The show has to look great even with sub-standard equipment.

            Next week I’ll report on the Identity Festival!!!

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Comment by Brandon Creel on August 24, 2011 at 6:34am

My passion for what I do is my motivation.  As I go through ups and downs there are always reminders of why I love what I do.  An awesome looking show, band/artist/client who personally thanks me for a great job, a completed installation that turned out just as good as you visioned, LDI! :)

Comment by Jason R on August 22, 2011 at 9:36am
Only a very few people understand what it's like to run lighting to music. There is a  LD, I think he's KORN's LD, who rocks out thru the whole show. There are some Youtube videos of him, quite interesting to watch lol.
Comment by Justin Lang on August 22, 2011 at 5:54am
I knew I liked you for a reason Elisa! I totally feel the same way when "working" behind a desk.  They actually PAY us to do this?!?  How can it be considered work if you love what you are doing?
Comment by Kirk Garreans on August 19, 2011 at 1:41pm

I also began my career in the entertainment industry more for the love of being involved with the biz than for the money. Especially at the beginning, the money is usually minimal (if offered at all) and there are so many people that think they want to do this, so a lot of competition for very few openings. But I found right away that a great attitude, a willingness to work hard (even for free!), ability to follow directions and willingness to LEARN from those around you, and showing how much you enjoy being a part of the "scene" makes people around you in the biz ask for you on the next job.

 

I worked in college and afterward as an actor, and would still be doing that today if I could make a living at it... but the next best thing was to be behind the scenes working on movies, in theater, etc. I see the same thing with many people in our business that are also actors or musicians or comedians, etc.

 

Now a huge motivator for me is to learn more on a job - to learn all I can about a video or projection system, to be the very BEST at operating that piece of gear. I do get paid much better than I did 26+ years ago when I started out running truss spots at local concerts, and a decent paycheck is a powerful motivator when you have a family and kids. But I find that the more I emphasize the money aspect of my jobs, the less fulfilled I am at those gigs. You have to have more motivation than just a paycheck to stay in this biz!

 

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