Power Picks

My top three, in no particular order:

Steve Terry, ETC: One of the founding fathers of lighting systems integration, now working for the biggest dimming companies on the planet — when Steve T talks, people listen. His tenure at Production Arts rode the wave of systems integration and themed lighting environments to the forefront of our industry, and his move to ETC put him in a heavyweight lineup alongside Fred Foster and Mike Griffith as a hat trick of power players.

Jonathan Resnick, Barbizon: Carrying on the family tradition of putting the business into show business, Resnick has continued a half-century-long tradition of having the right expendables at the right price when you've absolutely gotta have it right now. Add in a large systems integration division and 13 offices worldwide, and his family-owned company looks like a decent little empire

Jeff Ravitz, Visual Terrain: Be good at what you do, then surround yourself with other people who are good at what they do. With decades of concert lighting experience, Ravitz would have plenty of stroke in this business on his merits as the Boss' LD alone, but add in project work like the LAX pillars and tons o' themed restaurants and environments, and you've got a load of potent influence in one guy.

Just my thoughts — fun list!
John Hartness
Charlotte, NC

Back In My Day…

I want to apologize for the loud popping noise that undoubtedly interrupted everyone's workday on July 12th at 12:32pm PST. It was the sound of my head exploding upon finally reading Chris Parry's article in the June issue of ED entitled “The Price is Not Always Right.”

I don't know Mr. Parry, and I sincerely don't mean this personally, but could it be that he is just a tad spoiled? At the risk of being one of those annoying people who had to walk to school in the snow, barefoot, both ways…I remember when we didn't even have Film FX machines. We had to make rain with plain old gobos and a chase function. Sometimes we couldn't even afford a board with a chase function and had to teach the board op how to dance the bump buttons. If we couldn't afford gobos, we cut slits in pie tins. We had to draw whole light plots with pencils, and the audience didn't even know!

Don't get me wrong. I love the Film FX! I use it all the time. But if the budget doesn't allow for them, there is still good old-fashioned creativity and ingenuity to fall back upon. I am certain that Mr. Parry possesses these skills in abundance. So often, I see designers turn to technology for the sake of technology. They turn to it because it is easier, or groovier, or what they think the audience expects in terms of production value. I make my living selling and renting technology. And I really, really want to keep doing that. But, while selling and renting gear is my life, I wonder if that attitude is not of some detriment to the current theatre ecology.

Recently, Peter Maradudin wrote an article about how little designers are paid and how it is impossible for a LORT designer to make a decent living. These two articles together beg the question — “Where is the value: in the technology or the artist?” Where should the theatre be putting its incredibly hard-to-raise funds? As a society, do we value special effects more than we value the creative spirit? Perhaps a designer could make do with only 12 Film FX units if it meant his crew was to be paid a living wage.

If I were the rental house who was encouraged to purchase equipment for my rental stock by a manufacturer and then undercut on a rental bid by that manufacturer, I would have to seriously reevaluate that relationship.

And is there really a manufacturer out there trying to tell rental houses what price to attach to their rental gear! At 1% one would have to rent an item 100 times before it was paid for. Not to mention the time spent checking the gear coming and going and doing regular maintenance and replacing expendable parts like gel strings and film loops!!

Okay. I feel better now. Sorry. Please, carry on.
Dinna Myers
Musson Theatrical, Inc.
Santa Clara, CA