Lighting By the Book; Ed Warren’s Coffee Break; LDs Give Back; Quick Cues

by Debi Moen
in Designer Watch
LD Paul Dexter promotes his new book at PLSN’s LDI booth. Photos: Debi Moen
LD Paul Dexter promotes his new book at PLSN’s LDI booth. Photos: Debi Moen

Author and LD Paul Dexter made an LDI appearance to autograph Concert Lighting: The Art and Business of Entertainment Lighting 4th Edition, co-written with James Moody. Dexter says the previous editions are text books on college campuses, and this edition provides even more valuable tips that future lighting designers may need, notably diverse accounts by some of our industry’s most renowned designers.

Meanwhile, Dexter continues as LD for REO Speedwagon, supporting Status Quo in the UK this winter. While REO supported Def Leppard’s summer tour, Def’s production manager, Phay MacMahon, discovered Paul’s dexterity on live video shoots, so the LD did double-duty preparing and executing the lighting for their DVD shoot in the DTE Energy Music Theatre in Detroit. The video will air as an AXS TV special.

Brad Schiller chats with LD Trevor Ahlstrand at LDI.

It’s a mystery how Brad Schiller found time to update The Automated Programmers Handbook, 3rd Edition, but he also held court at PLSN’s LDI booth to sign copies. Along with programming principles, the book includes entertaining “war stories” from some prominent lighting designers. Besides his full-time gig with a major lighting manufacturer, Schiller manages to program shows here and there and also writes PLSN’s “Feeding the Machines” column without fail, month after month (see page 73 this issue). Both books are available at plsnbookshelf.com.

Ed Warren’s Coffee Break

LD Ed Warren, who just finished Mumford & Sons’ tour, has literally taken a long coffee break — by buying his own coffee/record shop in his hometown of Margate, an English seaside town. Beans roast on site, while second-hand vinyl tunes spin on a turntable. They’ll even buy your vintage record collection — but please “no rubbish old pop music you see in every charity shop: Paul Young, Simply Red...”

Though Warren is off the road, he’s still creating looks for tours and commercials. He recently designed for a hometown music festival, for a Bang & Olufsen commercial, a Vogue magazine party, and an Instagram photo shoot with Paris Saint-Germain Football Club. He’s also directing music videos. As well as this, a manufacturer has taken on his lighting creation, the “Halo” fixture, which he designed in conjunction with Light Initiative for Mumford & Sons’ tour. It makes its way into the market beginning Nov. 1, 2016 from a worldwide manufacturer who will spread the word soon.

LDs Give Back

Some influential lighting designers have found ways to “give back” to the industry by sharing their expertise with upcoming young talent.

Many know of LD Chris Lisle’s Touring Career Workshop, now in its sixth year. The recent gathering Nov. 9 in Nashville brought in professionals to cover everything from part-time parenting, tax information, retirement options, freelance opportunities and contracts, to staying fit on the road and other topics. Sharing advice were production manager Erik Leighty (Paramore, Miranda Lambert, Alice In Chains), promoter rep Mark Miles, (Miranda Lambert, IEBA and Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp), tour manager Jim Runge (The Black Keys, Major Lazer, Empire of the Sun) and production manager Randy Fletcher (Keith Urban).

Meanwhile, over in Finland, LD and stage designer Mikki Kuntu was busy dancing through designs with ballet companies galore including the Finnish National Ballet, the National Dance Company of Korea, The Royal Danish Ballet and the Boston Ballet. But in October, he found time to hold a “Master Class Junior,” a two-day free workshop for young talents in Finland. It was followed by a “Master Class Senior,” a two-day session for professionals in video, lighting and set design.

The idea originated as Kuntu reached out to find two assistants for the next five years. “Within the applicants, I could see the urge, the hunger to get in touch and to learn, to ‘be in the game,’ “ he says. “This took me back to my own early days, when a direct contact with the designers and industry professionals was the thing I appreciated the most. At the same time, it was the hardest thing to reach. Anyway, this process surfaced an idea of giving the youth a direct contact with no strings attached. No business involved whatsoever.”

The first day of Master Class Junior follows the main theme: Path. “I’m talking about everything, from first waking up to the power of imagination as a kid to what led me where. I’m also paying attention to wrong turns along the way and why those are equally important. And I’m talking about key collaborators related to my career, and how we’ve grown together,” Kuntu notes.

The second day, Kuntu concentrated on the creative side and on the process of the productions — not so much about technical bells and whistles. The junior class finishes the first day with a relaxed dinner with technical directors of theatres and owners and managers of rental companies. “The idea is that the young get to meet their potential bosses face to face. Who knows, maybe someone finds a job as well!”

Quick Cues

LD Dan Schultz of 44 Designs designed and is running the fall tour for California rock band Young the Giant.

LD Ben Stanton prepared a promo tour with Regina Spektor in the U.S. and Europe. “We won’t be rolling out the full production design for the new album until 2017,” he notes.

Designers at Lightswitch are designing Nissan, Infiniti and Subaru exhibits and events at the Los Angeles Auto Show in
November.

LD Brett Lorins is touring with EDM band, Classixx. “I’ll be LD’ing and helping with video for them, we’ll be on the road for two months coast to coast. I’ll also be breaking off from tour to do two one-off shows for Akon in Dominica and in Shanghai.”

LD Matthew Greer shifts his focus from Dr. Dog and Primus over the past few years to The Head and the Heart’s Signs of Light U.S. tour Oct. 3-Nov. 7.

Production designer Robert Sondergaard of Electric Aura is again working with Canadian CFL Grey Cup festivities. One-Republic headlines the 104th Grey Cup halftime show on Nov. 27 at Toronto’s newly-renovated BMO Field.

Debi is gratefully receiving news of your upcoming Thanksgiving and other holiday gigs this month. Reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..