Truth in Lighting
Every show you do is important to someone, so it better be important to you.
Let’s be honest. The truth is that you will not necessarily enjoy every show you are running. I would be willing to bet that everyone who reads this at some point has uttered the words “I have messed up way more important shows than this!” All of us have had to sit through everything from insurance conventions to dance recitals and everything in between. Some of these shows are real dogs to sit through or operate, but every show that you will light is really important to someone, or they would not be paying you to be there. In these cases, you really need to be able to put yourself into that other person’s situation. The person speaking at that insurance convention is trying their best to convey an idea to their audience. Chances are really good that they have put a ton of work into the Power Point presentation they are showing and are really passionate about it. That dance recital that you are lighting is some kid’s big day out in front of their family. And that family, as a parent, I can tell you that the pride of seeing your child onstage doing their thing is huge. As a different analogy, Imagine you are watching your favorite sport and it looks like the star on your team is just phoning it in today. The next words out of your mouth will be “for the money he/she is getting paid, they should play their best every time.” And you would be absolutely correct. While we don’t make sports star money, most of the time, we are getting paid to think up looks and push buttons to make them happen.
Not every show is going to be as complex or captivating as this one, but they are all important
It’s easy as a lighting person to look at a seemingly basic show and not put forth your best effort, but that insurance guy, and that kid, and those parents deserve your best efforts every time. Think about how you would feel in their place if the show was not as good as it could have been because the lighting person didn’t care enough to give their all. You would feel slighted for sure. I know that I have sat through enough shows as an audience member and have known that the show could have been better if the lighting person had just cared a little more. Then again, I know that I have lit shows I could have put a little more effort into. I am not saying that you need to build a 10,000 cue show for every event that you do, but I am saying that you need to put in the appropriate cues and looks for the show you are doing.
Truth is that as the show’s photon slinger, it is your job to always do the best you can to make the show as good as it possibly could be. It is an unwritten contract between you and the show you are lighting and the audience you are lighting it for to give your all, and for the talent on stage to give their all, and for the audience to applaud like mad at the end of it. You all owe it to each other to do these things. This is how our industry ultimately survives. The best way for us to uphold our end of the bargain is to walk in with the attitude that “this is the most important show I have ever done!” Sounds completely unrealistic, but the fact is that this is the best way to make sure you give your all on every look and cue you write.
So the next time you have to do that white light only show, make it the best white light show they have ever seen!