Archive for the ‘Personal Stories’ Category

Lighting Fashion Week!

March 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Being an Electrician for New York City’s Fashion Week.

New York City Fashion Week runs for two straight weeks with non-stop fashion shows. Each show requires a mass amount of equipment, which tends to deplete the local lighting rental shops of their inventory. With fashion shows going on all through Manhattan it is sometimes difficult to get basic equipment. As a crew head it is essential rent for the worst situations, because more often than not they happen. However some of things can not be planned. Such as, visual elements that are sometimes asked for at the last minute. Ex.- finding over hundred florescence lamps in a twenty four hour period. Tasks similar to this happen far to often, but with a great team and some creative ideas it always works out.

A day can start as early as 5am to 8am. One of the first tasks is getting the gear off the truck and finding a location to store This tends to be a challenge at most off site locations (Lincoln Center). Many of the off site shows are i warehouses, art galleries, mansion, or other larger open spaces. These spaces were not intended for shows. The walls are either in a very fragile state or they have been installed for the particular event. In any case when an electrician is carrying around lighting fixture and a bundle of cable, he needs to be particularly careful especially when there are other people trying to pass by and do other tasks. This would include a scenic crew building a set and sound folks placing their gear.

Nothing is ever permanent. As unfortunate as it may be, the design team is constantly evolving the layout of the show. As an electrician it is imperative to be able to adjust to the constant changes in the plan. Though he/she may have put all that labor into making a cable look absolutely amazing, the most important aspect is to fulfill the vision of the client. Making this happen requires at lot of  time, that is never there. Far to often the ten hour call turns into an twenty hour day, filled with many tasks, from building structures to hanging hundreds of units. Depending on how the day unfolds there can be shorten meal breaks, or non at all.

As 1am rolls around and the crew has pushed through the day to get the rig up and working, it is finally time to focus! At this point all the electricians have been going since early morning and they are on their last leg of energy. The end of the day finally comes and the crew gathers their belongs and heads out. However, it is a very short night and the crew has to be back by 7am to do last minute change and show calls.

It is 7am and the venue is full if catering, hair/makeup, and production. As we start to run out of time, each electrician in their show blacks race around the space finishing the last few notes from the night before. With just a few minutes before show time all of the gear is finally where it needs to be.

A room filled with hundreds of people wait around in anticipation. Without warning the house lights and music fades, this is clearly a sign that the show is  about to begin.   Moments later a bank of bright lights illuminates a long runway and a new age electronic sound track is played so loud you can feel the vibrations in your bones. As this happens a fleet of models strut down the very bright runway in designer clothing with hundreds of flashes all around them. The seven minute show flies by and not even fifteen minutes later the set and lights are being struck and packed away.

Throughout Fashion Week an electrician will experience this at least five to six different times. By the end of this very intensive week, people usually take off a fews days to recover. But this experience is not for nothing, each person is well compensated for all the time and energy.


Michael L. Cecchini

VP of National Sales


A Million and One Ways to Use Color Gel

February 4, 2009 7 comments

I’m pretty new to the theatre lighting world. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no spring chicken when it comes to this business called “show.”  But all of those years have been spent as an actress. That’s right. An actress. I’ve always been the girl who gets hit in the face with the light. The girl who crosses in the blues and pinks and thinks about blocking and lines, rather than lighting and moments.  I’ve never really given much thought to the basic concepts and theories behind a mood or a scene. And I’ve never really appreciated the complexity that lighting offers a show. But the “magic” of theatre really is in the lights! Imagine what The Wizard of Oz would be if you had to watch it, beginning to end, in plain, boring, white light. Think of The Wicked Witch without a devious lighting change to announce her arrival in Munchkin City. What would  “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” be without a solitary spot on our lamenting Dorothy? Trust me, you lose almost all of the magic if you take away those pretty pretty lights. Most of the “Oooo and Ahhhh” factor goes out the window, right along with Dorothy, Toto, and the house they flew in on. Working for a company like StageSpot can give a small-minded actress like me some big perspectives to consider and it’s opened my eyes to a world I was just too naive to see. Now I’ve seen the light and I STILL can’t wrap my brain around how much credit those lighting directors really deserve.

With all of that said, I would like to talk to you about something I can relate to: lighting gel. That’s right, plain ol’ gel. I’m a simple girl. I like simple things. I like little sheets of super baked in color goodness that I can use in my home, in my crafts and projects, and in my letters and gifts.  Now, my much smarter StageSpot associates tell me gel is put in front of lighting fixtures, and gives the stage some of that “magic” I mentioned earlier. Blues, pinks, purples, yellows, and the dreaded color green can all be used to set a mood and add an emotional undercurrent to help communicate a theme, a story, etc. But did you know you can use them in your kitchen? Did you know you can make all of your apartment neighbors green with envy at your window cling modern art masterpiece? You can. I did, and I’m just an actress. If I can do it, YOU can do it. Below are are just a few examples of everything you can do with gel. At StageSpot I get calls all day from people wanting to change the mood of their house for a party, people using gel for stained glass windows, for gift wrapping, for drinking glasses, for children with learning disabilities, color therapy experiments, the list goes on and on! So give this material a chance. Add some color to your world. It’s affordable, and it’s fun.

Swatch Book Lighting Cover light1

Supplies Needed: Swatch Book

I hate halogen lighting. It buzzes. It make you look ten years older and ten times more tired than you really are. So when I moved into my apartment, before I could make anymore pancakes, I had to fix the lighting in my kitchen.

To make your kitchen a better place for pancakes:

1. Remove the plastic box cover from your halogen lighting fixture (you may need a screwdriver for this, depending on the fixture).

2. Cover the inside surface of this box with the individual colors from a Roscolux Swatch book.

3. Place the box back on the halogen light.

4. Your done! Your kitchen now has softer beautiful light, and you can finally make yourself some pancakes in peace.

Use any color you like, any pattern you like, and any swatch book you like. StageSpot has all of them: Lee, Gam, E-Color, Cinegel and Roscolux. The best part of this project is that no glue, tape or other adhesive is needed. The gel lays flat inside you halogen light cover and sticks with the power of static cling. It’s cheap, fun, and very pretty. I did a simple rainbow, but you can do any pretty pattern you choose!

Window Cling Modern Art MasterpieceStained Glass Color Gel

Supplies Needed: Sheets of Gel, Spray Bottle (with “mist” setting”),  Paper Towel or Sponge.

You can purchase sheets of gel from StageSpot for $6.25 each. They come is 20″ x 24″ sheets. I used Roscolux, because it’s thin and easy to work with. But I also suggest E-Color, It’s a bit thicker, but its bit cheaper at  $5.79 each.

1. First off, clean your window. The cleaner, the better.

2. Cut your gel into different sized squares. I used about four different colors in my project.

3. To make your gel stick to your window (i.e. “window cling”) spray a light mist of water on the spot you need you gel to stick to your window, and place your sheet gently on top.

4. Take your sponge of paper towel and press down on your sheet of gel. Spread out all the water under your gel, and soak up the remained that may be dripping out of it.

Ta Da! Window Cling! This will stay up for quite awhile. I placed mine about 4 months ago, and only one or two sheets have fallen. To fix that problem, just re-apply them! If you want the “official” instructions, you can click – How to Apply Filters to Windows. It get’s a bit more specific concerning “whole window coverings”.

Once again, the sky is the limit with this project. You can cut out shapes, make patterns, seasonal greetings, anything you can imagine!

Fun with Photographypenguin2

Supplies Needed: Camera with Flash, Swatch book

This is a pretty simple little experiment for all you shutter bugs out there:

1. Get a Rosco (or Lee, E-Color, Cinegel etc) Swatch book.

2. Pick a color and place it over the flash of your camera.

3. Take pictures.

You’re going to see some pretty neat results. You can make it look like you have a filter studio at your finger tips, and all you did was use a little swatch book and a little creativity!

Well, that’s about it for this actress. I hope you enjoyed reading about how cool gel is. Stay tuned next time to rambling about gaff tape. We here at StageSpot LOVE gaff tape.


Sarah Tuffs

“Your friend in the entertainment business!”

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Categories: Personal Stories

What is it like to be on a tour?

February 4, 2009 Leave a comment

When people find out you have been on  National and  International tours they always seem to want to know and ask with a smile… What is it Like? It seems this is a common question that gets asked from aspiring technicians and students looking at their choices of what and where to take their new careers in theater.

Well,  being on tour can be great! However, it can also be miserable.  Depending on how it is for you. It mainly depends on the type of person you are.  You have to be the type of person that is easy to get along with and not easily irritated by others , as you will be sleeping, eating, traveling, and working with the same people all the time. Now, before I get started I know someone who tours will read this and say this is nothing what its like.  Well every tour is different.  It depends on the company you have been hired with, if you are traveling around in a van, or in a bus and truck doing one nighters, or maybe you get lucky if you are on a full pink working 4 weeks stops.

Traveling, it’s kind of a given you will be traveling all the time.  Some people see the idea of this job traveling all over and getting paid to do it, nothing could be better. This doesn’t mean you will be visiting the Alamo when your in San Antonio.  It means you will be inside a theater all day. I have been to so many cities all across the united states, and when I can revisit them for a second time and not know it until I walk into the theater, then it all comes back. You will get to see the outside of the venue for about 45 minutes while you scurry out to find that random place to eat, that is in walkable distance.  No getting in your car after work and decompressing.   You will be walking to your tour bus or hotel with smelly socks, waking up at 7am to do it all over again.

Local crews, these guys can make or break a city for you.  You know your in trouble when your locals have been pulled out of the homeless shelter, or even more fun prison.  There is nothing that makes me laugh more than sending the guy on your electrics crew to go help audio, because your pretty sure he pooed himself. Especially when you hear the call on radio 5 min later, “Carpentry I have an extra person I’m sending him over to help you”  There is also something really uncomfortable about telling prisoners what to do when there guard standing ready with riffle. But you get used to it. The best local crews usually are professionals working in major cities, any military outfit, then college students if your playing a campus. You get to learn a lot about people, managing new crews everyday.

You can make a lot money while on tour, while having very little out of pocket expenses.  But realize the money isn’t so great hourly.  Weekly you can make anywhere from the low end of $35o a week to the high end of $3000 a week. Just remember,  realize that you work 80 hours a week and you never get to go home.

I know this sounds like a lot of negative things about touring. In reality I loved it. It does get tiring after a while but, I have built some of my best friendships from tour, I even have friends that have met their wives on tour. It’s a great experience, and there is nothing like it. Just make sure you are one of the poeple that can hadle it. It’s hard work, and remember no one wants to work with someone who is complaining.

Gary Weintraub – Member IATSE ACT
Vice President
“Your friend in the entertainment business!”
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Categories: Personal Stories