First cameraman, now lighting director, Eddie Reyes has been on the Latin scene in Miami for the past 15 years. Born and raised in Miami, Reyes is an Emmy Award-winning lighting director for the Spanish-language Telemundo network, where he also supervises the lighting department and the stage managers.
"For the Latin look, everything is brighter," says Reyes, who lights a variety of television formats for Telemundo. "I use a bright color palette and add richness with gels." If a set has a teal-blue wall, Reyes adds a light teal filter to help pop the color even more. "The polls show that Latin audiences like bright, happy sets," he says.
The 34-year-old lighting designer started out as a cameraman at the NBC affiliate (now Fox) in Miami in 1982. He quickly moved to CBS (now NBC) and began to dabble in lighting. "I assisted on local shows," he recalls, "then they moved the more experienced people over to the engineering department and I became a lighting director." From there, Reyes moved to the Univision Spanish network and then to Telemundo as a studio supervisor in 1986.
The mix of programming at Telemundo ranges from news and talk shows to sports and concerts. "The first thing I discovered was that studio lighting and stage lighting are different things," Reyes says. To learn about concert lighting, he put himself on the call list for a local labor company. "I had to learn about this equipment from scratch," he admits. "The dimmer configurations were different, too. I had to learn to incorporate what the camera needs, as well as the throws and angles of the theatres where special events are held." Reyes remembers "unloading trucks and pushing cases. Anything just to get familiar with the gear." As he had the chance to do concert lighting, Reyes learned by experimentation. "As I matured and got more experience, I knew what I could get away with."
This experience has paid off. Reyes recently designed the lighting for Nocha de Gala, an awards program for Spanish film, theatre, and music broadcast from The Jackie Gleason Theatre in Miami. "I met with the scenic director from Spain," says Reyes. "He wanted all the battens in the theatre for the scenery and I had to ask him 'where do I hang my lights?'" His rig included 78 Vari*Lite(R) automated fixtures (60 VL5(TM) wash luminaires and 18 VL6(TM) spot luminaires) as well as 24 Studio Colors(R) and six Cyberlights(R) from High End Systems, and 12 Martin PAL 1200s, all supplied by Vanco. Reyes worked with fellow Florida LDs Joe Schweickert (Vari*Lite Artisan(R) console operator) and Jorge Valdez (Case console operator for the Studio Colors and the Martin PALs). "There was a lot of color," Reyes emphasizes. "Latins like to see a lot of color."
As supervisor of three other lighting directors and four stage managers at Telemundo, Reyes works out a weekly schedule according to the various production needs at the network. He calls in freelancers to help hang lights when the schedule is too heavy. "The challenge is to be prepared for last-minute changes," he says. "I try to please the people who hire me, even though they might not see things the same way."
Reyes' work has won him two Emmys: in 1991 for a 35mm-film promotional campaign for the Telemundo network; and in 1992 for a three-hour non-stop Carnival music special. "As a lighting designer, when I see a set, I want to see it really come to life when the talent comes out," he says. "I like to paint with gels and textures." He might mix out-of-focus ellipsoidals with color and a wash luminaire, or really push a set to its limits through the lighting. "I like to give a show the look it deserves," says Reyes. "I have a vision and like to make the final product better."
Last summer, Reyes completed the studio design for a new CBS studio in Miami, located in the same building as Telemundo. He will also serve as lighting director for three local shows to be produced there. His equipment choices include SSRC multi-strip connectors; Sensor dimmers, an Expression console and Source Fours from ETC; Videssence for talent lighting; Strand cyc lights; and a Matthews grip package. "This studio will serve as a newsroom for a CBS worldwide Spanish newscast," Reyes says. CBS will also use the studio for Spanish-language talk shows and a news magazine, America Speaks, with prominent political figures interviewed via satellite.
"Even though it's for the Latin market, I like to push myself. I like the competition," says Reyes. "I never say 'that's good enough.'" He looks at what's happening on ABC, NBC, and CBS. "I like to set my standards to them," he says. "I want to compete with them, not with the cable networks." This is true whether the project is the Miss Hispanidad beauty pageant, the Pan American Games, or Tremendo Sabado, a musical variety program.
Reyes has been at Telemundo since 1986. Is there a move in the future? "I like all aspects of television and am slowly getting into production," he says. "I see myself as a lighting designer, yet I like helping out in other areas, as sort of a consultant. This helps facilitate the lighting as well, and that is my strongest area. Lighting is what I do for a living."