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Am I doing the right thing for my future in lighting?


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Hi everyone,

Im on a hunt for some advice to see if im going about the right way to get into the professional lighting industry. :P


I first started lighting school shows back in Year 10 after I first found out stage lighting was my passion and since then the lighting bug has gotten stronger and stronger. :)


After year 11 I stayed on at the schools sixth form because they offered me the chance to take the BTEC in performing arts (Technical) at level 3 which sounded perfect for me, I was the only student doing the course and it was all going great for the first year until my tutor moved away last summer, and since then they never bothered to get a replacement, so since last summer I have been on my own and have found it really difficult trying to figure out what evidence I need etc, but in November our local theatre offered me a position as follow spot op for their panto which I jumped at the chance at and It went really well and I loved all 57 performances of it :).


After panto season finished, I explained the situation with the college to them and they offered me an Apprenticeship working with all the Technical side of the theatre, while still being able to use the evidence of theatre shows for my BTEC. I was so happy at the chance to get into the theatre world and I have been doing that since christmas now, I have learnt so much since joining them and have been doing all sorts like Stage managing, sound OPing, Lighting design and operating, its been great and made me a lot happier :P I also decided that im going to extend my BTEC over another year so I can hopefully get a good enough qualification to go onto uni :oneeyedsmiley02:


What im wondering though is if this is the right way to be going about getting into the lighting world? I have read about many people my age having much more experience with moving lights and desks than I have which is why I'm a bit worried about weather I'm doing the right thing or not. Is there anything else I should be doing?


Im also thinking of maybe going on some courses with some lighting companies such as Avo and MA so I can get some basic training on their desks, and learn more about moving lights as the college and theatre dont have any so I haven't had much experience with them, Are these courses a good idea?


I have such a strong drive to get into the professional world of lighting, I just want to find out the best way possible of doing it and what I need to get into it :D


Im sorry for the amount of questions I have managed to squeeze in, and the amount I have written.


Thanks everyone!


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Hi Harryh733


I have to say, it looks to me like you are on a good tack at the moment. You are clearly very passionate about what you are doing, and there isn't really a better way to learn than in a theatre with the people who really know what its all about!


You must be one of very few youngsters who get to do an apprentice in this industry, and if they are able to give you some of the academic knowledge to back up your hands on experience, you should make yourself quite an employable commodity.


I don't know the theatre you are working with, but it may also be worth you trying to get on the casuals list at the Theatre Royal in Norwich. Loads of the shows that come through our theatre space also tour into that venue, so they see lots of one nighters of varying scales, through to properly chunky week long touring musicals. This is a great way to see the industry from lots of different angles and meet many new people, one of whom may just take you on tour with them one day! You'll see everything from shoe-string budget tribute acts who struggle hard to make the best out of what they have, through to the big budget musicals that turn up with 4 or 5 artics worth of stuff. - Over time, I've seen a number of venue technicians disappear off on to interesting tours as a result of being on the local crew!


Equally, don't get too worked up about what you read about all the people your age who have used all the latest super-duper movers and desks. We can all hire a couple of wobbly buckets and a pearl from the local hire company, but that doesn't really guarantee a good show, or that we truly understand them! Equally, anyone can read a spec sheet and sound like they know what they're talking about! Work on a few good shows, see what others do, pick up tips, and when the opportunity arises, go play and make it look pretty!


Good luck!



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You certainly are very lucky, Harry! Sounds like you're having a gerat time too and that's what this game is all about - doing it for the love of it.


In some ways I would actually say it's better that you have no yet been experienced to moving lights. This will mean that when you come to LD a show you can just hire in a load of generics and do a better show than someone who says "sorry mate can't do that colour wash without a load of mac 600's". Whilst moving lights can enhance a show they can also be a right pain and can break a show. I hired them in for the last show I did and whilst I thought they were great and I got some cool looks out of them, I'd have to weigh up whether I would have them again next time round (if I LD again) - although using an Express as the control desk didn't help!


I've also done the Avo Pearl basic course and found it very useful and informative and would highly recommend it; especially as it is such a standard desk for rock and roll tours!


Good luck in your BTEC and keep going with it all!








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As a student myself, I can safely say I'm jealous of the opportunities you have! To be working in a theatre regularly and continuing your education through that is absolutely brilliant. You are in no way disadvantaged compared to the students who have experience with moving lights. I've used movers once, about two years ago, I didn't bother after that; I felt that using generics was developing my designs and my knowledge of colour, dimensions and positioning far better than 'making do' with the angle of a mover which was perched there with the not quite right colour that meant it took twice as long to programme a scene than if it was just generics!


So keep on working hard, but make sure you do finish that BTEC! If you discover in a few years time that there isn't a job for you, or it isn't as enjoyable as you once thought it was having a decent qualification could save you!!


Good luck and enjoy yourself!!



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I felt that using generics was developing my designs and my knowledge of colour, dimensions and positioning far better than 'making do' with the angle of a mover which was perched there with the not quite right colour that meant it took twice as long to programme a scene than if it was just generics!


This quote should be permanently displayed somewhere here on the BR and elsewhere.


To get to the OP, sounds like you have got some opportunities in common with all the guys who have "made it" in the end. Helping in a venue, learning the trade from others and getting more offers to do other gigs. A variety of situations is an important part of the education.


The thing to take away is that, despite the temptation to learn to speak MANet, have your own ArtNet IP and furiously read the technical data of every nodding bucket every made, this kind of knowledge isn't everything when you are working in the business. It certainly isn't going to ensure that you get taken on when you are starting out.


What everyone wants from the newbie they have taken on is someone who turns up on time, learns quickly and does as they are told while showing some initiative. That kind of person is grown in an environment such as the OPs and anyone who is anyone in this business all has a backstory with similar elements.


By all means, go on courses to get a feel consoles or kit - it's time well spent and may well beat the "on the gig" desk training that many of us have done. But don't worry that it seems like everyone else is getting to do more things than you. Nobody needs an 17 year old Grand MA programmer anyway.

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You sound like just the sort of student we'd like at City College Norwich on our porduction arts course, although I can understand not wanting to do another BTEC.


If you ever fancy seeing what we do or want a chat with somebody who was where you are now 15 years ago then drop me a PM.

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