"I've been gone for a minute now I'm back with the jump off. " Forgive me, I've been creating art, so you know I have A LOT to say… enjoy.
I don't believe in Luck.
Luck does not live in my vocabulary. In fact I am only bringing it up because someone mentioned how "lucky" I am to be working in the field that I first went to school for. Forgive me person who shall remain nameless, but that is nonsense. I have worked my behind off to get where I am. And I don't plan on leaving anytime soon. ;-)
Now with that out of the way, let's look at this from the business standpoint.
Actors take classes, get coaches, and spend years upon years perfecting a craft that is constantly in flux. Until that day if they are…"Lucky" (Okay one more dig. I digress.) when they get a role aka "Dream Job" that brands them and validates all of that money and time they have put into honing their craft.
This is valid for just about everyone in EVERY industry. Work hard, reap the rewards... right? Well to some extent yes. Sure I've heard "right place right time" or "it's about who you know". Those are both very real possibilities for furthering your career, but what about….say taking a chance?
When I started out in Entertainment Management I had to convince people that an 18 year old could hold his (or her, I'm talking about myself, but ladies this applies to you as well…) own weight. Would you believe that at 18 I was having to instruct people twice my age (or older) as to what needed to be done. Yes, I lost a job or two because I was "too young" or didn't have enough "experience," but "Look at me now." (I digress again.)
Let's look at working your donk off and taking chances.
I have lived almost every imaginable scenario in my short 14 year career, but the time I still look back to is a time where I lived in a garage apartment counting pennies to eat off of the 99 cent menu. Sure I had friends and family with whom I could have lived with/borrowed money from, but I was "Proud." It was also one of the happiest times in my life. I was an artist.
I worked for free. Worked... (LMBO More like volunteered.) I owed creditors and the government. Couldn't pay my student loans and lost a brand new paid for vehicle because I couldn't afford insurance, but I was an artist.
I took chances that happened to pay off. The free jobs led way to paid jobs. I was able to create a world for myself where I am completely debt free. The friends and connections I made throughout the years will last me a lifetime. Now I'm not necessarily saying that my path was the "right" way or the "wrong" way, but it was MY way. Do what you have to do for YOU, but don't sit on the sidelines wishing you had the "Luck" of someone else. Create your own "Luck" and MAKE IT HAPPEN.
Until next time.
The hardest thing that I've ever had to do was figure out how much to charge for my services.
In the realm of management there really is no established set of guidelines of how much to actually charge for what it is you do.
In an ideal world I would just do it for free for the love of the art.
However, you try and pay your local power company with love and art and see if your lights will still be on when you get home. (Take it from me. I've done it. It does not work. (Oh to be young and ignorant again...I digress.)
There's always the fear of "Am I overcharging a client?"or "Am I undercharging a client?" " What if someone undercuts my bid?" Blah blah blah.
The simplest technique that I have found works the best is the price quote.
Add up the hours you estimate to be working on the project. Figure out how much money you need to actually live and SAVE (more on that in the future) times that by 25 percent for Uncle Sam (remember him?) Divide the money by the hours, times that by 100 and then quote that price.
Chances are if you think the number is too high or too low it probably is, but hey, that's why it's A QUOTE not the final invoice.
At the end of the day if you live in your greatness, and are a person of integrity, how much you charge will be the least of your concerns.
You've heard the saying before NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK. Sure we all have, but what is it? With whom am I to do it with? What if I don't like it? Sounds like dating right?! Well networking sounds like dating because in a way, it is. You're enrolling people you've never met in what you have to say. The most important thing about networking is do it on a daily basis with as many people as you have the opportunity to.
How does this apply to me? I'm an artist?
You never know where your next gig or potential client could come from. Think I'm joking, ask the former pizza delivery guy who is now a millionaire.
I was fortunate enough to take one of my shows to the Tony awards this year. The show was already closed so there was no pressure to have to have voters in for the days and weeks leading up to the awards. We went- we performed- we drop the mic(Not literally, I hate when artist drop the mic on stage. It is so disrespectful to the people hustling around the country and can't even afford a microphone. But I digress) and we left the building. The next day it was back to looking for the next project.
Later that day I got a call from one of the backstage crew turning me on to another client. I would've never gotten a call the next day had I not been willing to talk to everyone I came in touch with the day before.
Remember no one is too big or too small to NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK.
There are many concepts in the field of lighting that designers can choose when illuminating an event or production. From theater to television the technology is finally catching up to the designer’s imagination. Though the spectrum of tools has increased exponentially several things remain constant. #1 Light still travels in a straight line. And #2 the methodology behind the design is remembering the artistic canvas for lighting designers always begins with “darkness”.
Lighting designers start the process with darkness. To be clear, we do not turn on all of the lights and subtract one instrument at a time. Designers carve texture and burn shadows with color and intensity starting from a blank canvas. Zero light. Darkness.
Darkness, shadow, and lack of light happen naturally in the real world. It is very challenging mimicking the sun or controlling artificial light and its reflections and refractions. One of the greatest challenges is battling shadows. One dark spot or obstructed position can be more distracting than a cell phone during a monologue.
Artistically, I am not afraid of shadows or feel as though I need to light all of the recesses. To that end, as a designer, I cannot leave to chance what I “should have” designed and planned for. I study the set drawings and set model and venue specs to understand how to artificially create what happens naturally. Some directors I have worked with proclaim that they do not “like shadows” which I interpret as “make my show aesthetically pleasing”. To be clear, there will always be “shadow” when using artificial light. And the more lights you use the more shadows there are. You can, however, master the effects of shadows on a subject. Using higher angles and lighting from several different positions can give the illusion of eliminating shadows by softening the edges and flattening the perception of the subject.
But this is not a clinic on the elimination or creation of shadows. It is a call to seek the shade and value the dimness. The corners of your home and the lack of light in certain areas of your daily life are common and extensive. Imagine a world with no shade. How flat and unimpressive would that be? While it is true that certain shadows are not wanted because they are not aesthetically pleasing, harsh, and unruly, other deliberately designed shadows can provide sublime images that tell a marvelous story with light… or the lack thereof.
As to not rank you on the top of the list of designers not to call, I encourage you to examine the shadows and how they fall and why. Understand how to manipulate the eye to affect emotion with dimness and shade. Embrace the darkness. Shadows add dimension and quality. There is value in creating shadows on sets and actors. Some of the best design work in theater happens when the designer’s approach is fearless and bold.
Don’t be afraid of the dark!
For the past 10 years, I have used Genesis Chapter 1 verse 3 or "Gen. 1:3" as my email signature. Some people have replied to my emails and asked me "what does that mean?" Then it strikes them and another email immediately follows asking me to "forget the last email".
For me this passage represents the first light cue of the "Play of our Universe". The biblical account of creation is the foundation for how we as artists work our process and build our craft. Regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, the concept of "and God said let there be light" is the first move in taking the formless and shaping it.
First there is a creative spark that drives you to completion. Then there is the process, the layers, the research, "the work"... The process continues until "the work" is done and then you rest and reflect on your creation until the next spark.
When the artist in any medium chooses to create, the process for the refinement of the art encompasses the same manner that God used to create our world. Are you a "Creative"? What is your process? This blog space will serve as our formless void where arts lovers can visit and share their thoughts in an open creative forum.
Here's to the Creator in all of us!