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Felix Peralta

Michael S. Eddy • 1000 Words With...January 2019 • January 14, 2019

Felix Peralta

Felix Peralta, principal of Peralta Productions, is lighting designer/lighting director/automated programmer for concert touring, large-scale television projects, and events. He started out in television lighting, working for the then new Univision network out of Miami. Over the course of his career, he has been a part of many different lighting design teams. One of his longest associations is with lighting designer Allen Branton and lighting designer/director, and programmer Kevin Lawson. Some of his many credits include numerous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and concerts, a range of MTV and VH1 productions and awards shows including the Latin Grammy Awards, Comedy Central Celebrity Roasts, Deal or No Deal, Duel, U2 3D concert DVD shoot, CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tributes, and Kevin Hart’s What Now? concert DVD shoot. He’s been nominated for four Emmy Awards as well.

‡‡         How did you get started in the industry?

Well, I originally wanted to be an audio engineer. I was a drummer but after graduating high school, I quickly realized that I didn’t have the skillset to make a career out of being a percussionist. So then I thought that I was going to be a recording engineer and went to the Art Institute. I learned music and the video business, with an emphasis in audio engineering. When I graduated in 1992, I saw that there wasn’t really any work available. Ninety-five percent of the work was being done by five percent of the people. I was taking on all sorts of production jobs just to get some experience. I started doing some theater and stagehand work in Miami, and I was drawn to the world of automated lighting. So even though I came from the audio world, I found a very creative niche on the lighting side.

In 1996, I got a full-time job for the Univision television network in Miami. Univision back then was sort of a small mom-and-pop network. We would learn how to light all types of shows because everything was kept in-house. Some of my early mentors at Univision was Curt Contrada and Carlos Colina. They were an important force in teaching all the lighting television aspects that we were doing at Univision. A soap opera, to a game show, to a new show, to an outdoor exterior, to these variety shows and special events like The Latin Grammys. I got to learn all the different styles. It was a great foundation to learn all of my television skills. They didn’t have any automated systems at the time; it was all conventional studio lighting equipment with 11 Cyberlights and a Status Cue console. I took it upon myself to watch the person who was programming at the time and to learn. Early on, I saw the creative power of being able to program.

I was at Univision for about 10 years when I met Allen Branton. He had come in to consult on some projects. He inquired about having me work with him freelance and help on a couple of projects that he had coming up. So that was when I moved from Univision.

‡‡         Who else were some of your mentors?

Obviously, Allen Branton has been a huge mentor of mine. Other mentors have been Spike Brant and Justin Collie as well, who have invited me on many occasions to help work with them on the Bon Jovi tours; on the Nickelback shows. Spike and I worked on the Smashing Pumpkins. Also, I love Abigail Holmes, one of my favorite people, I have the utmost respect for her. I programmed The Cure for Abby back, I believe, in 2007. She was somebody who could really push me to be the best that I could be; it was an incredible experience.

‡‡         What do you consider some milestones in your career?

Every single thing is as important as the last to me. I always think that you’re only as good as your last project. But shows like the 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concerts — being able to be in a room with all those musical legends for a couple of days at the Garden [NYC’s MSG, in 2009] — that was memorable. I remember Simon and Garfunkel doing the “Sound of Silence,” which for us was a one-look wonder. So, I got into the look and just took my headset off, just listening to some of the most beautiful music you’ve ever heard. I’ll never forget that moment. Then there was The Concert for Valor, in 2014 for HBO [on Veteran’s Day, at the National Mall in Washington, DC]. It was a huge festival show, with some great acts like Metallica, Eminem, and Rihanna. There was maybe a couple hundred thousand people there. Having that large of a crowd was pretty amazing and being in the nation’s capital with such a strong message. I was happy and humbled to be part of all that. And also being part of The Wiz and Hairspray Live and some of the great shows that we’ve been able to do with Allen.

‡‡         What do you enjoy most about your work?

Not many people can say that they’ve worked with U2 and Los Tigres del Norte, both Grammy Award-winning bands with two completely extreme styles of music. Being able to work with that diversity of projects is extremely satisfying; being bilingual has been a big part of that. Being Hispanic, in many ways, opened so many other doors. I do a lot of work in Mexico and in Central and Latin America. I also enjoy all the different challenges. It is lighting based on budget, or venue, or time constraints. And on all these shows, it’s really the people that I work with — it’s the great relationships and experiences that you have with people that I enjoy about my job. I’m humbled to be able to share it with them.

‡‡         What do you like least about your job?

Leaving my family.

‡‡         Is there a piece of advice you got that has guided your career?

You’ve just got to be hungry. You’ve got to be passionate. You’ve got to want it more than the next person. You have to be determined; you have to give it your all. Nothing is going to be handed to you on a silver platter. You have to earn everything. I try to maximize every opportunity that’s given to me, I’ve always given maximum effort. I think that if you stay the course and work hard; have good energy, and good karma, that good things will come.

‡‡         Is there advice that you’d give to someone that’s in the early stage of their career?

To find balance—balance for family, for love, for career. That’s something that I think is important. When I turned 40, I started running, I’ve probably run over 8,000 miles and I’ve done a bunch of marathons in the last nine years. It’s a stressful environment that we work in so I try to start every day with a run, and that balances me, it focuses me for the rest of the day. So, I think find something—find a hobby, whether it’s running or anything else. I think balance is key in life.

‡‡         Summing up, how would you describe your career so far?

You know, it’s been a great ride. I have been doing this now for about 25 years and it’s been very satisfying to find a balance between television and live touring environments, especially being a fan of music. It’s just been a bunch of incredible opportunities with some incredible music and incredible experiences.

Michael S. Eddy, editor-in-chief of Stage Directions magazine, is a frequent PLSN contributor.

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