LD: How did some of your equipment choices support your design?
PE: I have to admit that we got a few of PRG Bad Boys in the room. I didn’t actually want to go there, but the cinematographer said that he "wanted it brighter, wanted it brighter, wanted it brighter." When we did camera testing early on, he said, "It’s too bright, too bright, too bright." The Bad Boys gave him brighter. The biggest part of our system was the Philips Vari-Lite VL3500 Spot and Wash units and the VL3000s with irises. We had them silenced—well, as much as they can be. We had tons of striplights and some big Fresnels here and there. The film gaffer provided much of the ambient lighting, but interestingly enough they also called on the theatrical system to provide plenty of additional ambient lighting.
JF: One of the virtues that you have in filmmaking that you don’t have in the theatre: you can customize equipment for that one day. You can have this equipment on Tuesday, and next Thursday have a totally different rig. It won’t show up on the film; the audience does not realize that you changed that Fresnel to a Leko. We could customize the lighting for a specific scene, whereas in a Broadway environment, you have to use the same light, the same backlight pipe, for the whole show.
PE: We did a lot of rehanging, a lot of maneuvering. One of the specialties that we offer is instead of hanging this all at once; we can create a New York parking lot; we can move equipment in and out, which saves the production money. They do not pay for a full package in situ.
LD: Talk a little about the warm tungsten look and how you used a massive amount of R40 striplights on the film.
PE: Steven Antin, the director, wanted a lit frame surrounding many scenes. I brought in all kinds of fixtures for him to look at. He said he liked bare bulbs and wanted them around the proscenium, not only the clear A-lamps that can chase around the proscenium, but for the lights to provide a curtain effect. For one particular number, we went with a frame of R40 striplights. I had originally ordered R40 strips, because I felt like that’s what a club like this would own, but when I chose the lamps, I had them bring in cases of each kind of lamp. Jules and I were on the phone every day about how to select the right source. Then I sent a truck with my lighting director to Beverly Hills where they were shooting a day scene and had them set up in a dark room for the director to choose the lamp that he liked the best. In the proscenium, it was organized with three circuits all the way around. For different musical numbers, they had different gels. It did not require continuity, sometimes it was red, white, and turquoise; sometimes it was red, amber, and orange or pink. The crew had a room full of gel frames.
LD: Who were some of the key vendors and crew that you worked with on the film?
PE: We got our whole package from PRG Los Angeles, Brian Edwards. They procured the Arri Ruby 7s, the strobes. We tested Lightning Strikes, which they got as well. They were a giant support to us and did a great job.
JF: There were other vendors, but they were sub-contractors through PRG. It was pretty terrific working with them.
PE: We had our brilliant electrician, Richard Mortell, who we’ve worked with for over 20 years; we just worked like hand in glove. He is credited as the theatrical gaffer. The chief lighting technician who handled the film lighting was Tony Nakonechnyj.
JF: The same case is with our excellent programmer, Harry Sangmeister, who we’ve worked with for years, We’ve done a lot of projects with Harry, including Dreamgirls.
PE: We had two lighting directors there; one was Harry Sangmeister, who programmed the show and David Davidian from the mainstream music industry lighting design world. These people comprised our team; our rock.