"It was both the best and worst project of my career," Deke Hazirjian claims of his lighting design for Bannerman Castle, a 19th-century warehouse whose facade, modeled after Scottish edifices, adds beauty to the Hudson Valley, NY, community where he lives. The illumination (pictured) was part of Riverfest, a celebration held in June that was dedicated to local efforts to rediscover the historic waterfront.
The LD is the president of New York City Lites (NYCL), whose credits include the lighting of the Fox News Channel in Manhattan. NYCL joined forces with Roy Sears of Scenic Technologies to fund the event, in the planning stages since midwinter. Riverfest eventually included smoke machines, synchronized music provided by local radio stations, and a bagpipe player. It also required the services of the local yacht club, a barge, two generators, and manpower drawn from NYCL and the Production Resource Group, parent company of Scenic Technologies and Bash Lighting Services, which provided "miles of cabling," the LD says.
"I didn't want to get involved with this project unless I could do it right," Hazirjian explains, "even if that meant costing me money. The local community [which also co-sponsored the event, and contributed volunteer assistance] originally had no idea what the scope of the project could be. It represented a civic duty. And of course, when you first look at a project, you don't always think about the logistics."
The most difficult problems stemmed from the location: The island that houses the castle is only accessible during high tide. "We needed to be able to change pattern, color, and focus, all with limited power. And we couldn't get the army to helicopter our equipment in," Hazirjian jokes. Instead, the crew used a barge, which, aside from instruments supplied by Vari-Lite ("the company gave us a really generous price"), included Bash's cabling and two generators, one of which ran out of power and had to be refueled by hand only hours before the event. The island is also covered with poison ivy, which forced the crew to be on their toes.
They also spent many rain-drenched hours in the dark, protecting lights and building platforms to keep equipment from sinking in the mud. Despite this, Hazirjian "would love to have another shot at lighting it. Now that we know our limitations, I want to try it differently. I want to do something that will make jaws drop."