Bristol Old Vic

Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously-running theatre in the UK, established in 1946 as a breakaway from the Old Vic in London. It is easily the most famous theatre in Bristol and houses a theatre school to encourage new talent alongside all of its current and future productions. It has recently undergone a £12million redevelopment, publicly funded by Arts Council England and Bristol City Council.

The Old Vic theatre prides itself as being “led by artists who see the world with distinctive clarity and whose ability to articulate what they see allows us to understand and engage with our world afresh”. This is a notable company in Bristol and not one I have ever been involved with previously; my extent of the venue was working as a runner for the 2012 RTS Awards in February 2013.

The idea of working in theatre and live events is something I am playing around with. I have always been intent on working in film or television production, but this year I am starting to sway back to my roots as a Media & A/V Technician for North Somerset Council and my experience with Timber Lake Camp. I’m used to live events and love the atmosphere of working in the pressures of them.

In the past I have seen jobs advertised for the venue through Theatre Bristol. At the time of advertising I was not interested in finding a full time job due to university, but it is still food for thought. One of the jobs advertised was looking for someone with skills as a lighting and sound technician.

I get the impression this type of job (or any involved with the crew) would require the common traits of confidence, enthusiasm, and highly social as many jobs in media sector request. However as this is a theatre specific job the emphasis would be on live lighting and sound equipment as opposed to camera and film set operations. Approaching the theatre solely from a film background would see changes by the fact it is a continuously flowing live product rather than several takes and “fix it in post”. You would also have to maintain a broader knowledge of sound and lighting, dabbling in electronics for basic repairs to equipment as a minimum. As every theatre is different it would be the case of learning on the job, often it’s working on a shoestring budget so fixing and maintaing equipment would be key.

Some typical requirements of a technician include:

  • Smooth running of technical aspects of theatre
  • Organise and set equipment rigging
  • Operate sound, lighting, other effects during performances
  • Furnish rehearsals
  • Maintain proper health and safety
  • Carry out PAT tests of equipment
  • Attend production meetings
  • Order new technical equipment

I feel I could walk into this type of job and comfortably undertake the work. I’ve been brought up in this environment, its what spurred my interest in film production, a combination of technical and creative mindsets. The fact I’ve just come out of another contract with Timber Lake Camp for a similar job keeps this field of work as a career prospect. It may be worth seeking additional electrical knowledge to make myself a better candidate for the company, this could be useful for maintenance of equipment.

I would definitely like to get involved with the Old Vic as it is a central hub in live performance. The current contacts for production and operations are: Jason Barnes (Director of Production and Operations), Becky Davies (Assistant to Director of Production and Operations), Aidan Woodburn (Operations Manager), James Lane (House Manager), Tim Streader (Chief Electrician), Ruth Sidery (Company Stage Manager), Jay Costello (Senior Technician Studios), James Molyneux (Head Of Stage), Jon Everett (Senior Technician Sound/AV), Arthur Newton (Technician Stage).

Further Reading

Lighting In The Future

Developing my skills in lighting have made me realise this is what I am ultimately passionate about, nothing to do with how it translates on camera, how you can manipulate it in post production, but the physical choice of light, colour, and design. I love the blend of the technical attributes of lighting with the creative stylisation decisions. Ultimately I want to find a role where I can blend these two approaches to lighting, ideally this is where being a Lighting Designer/Director can become a career focus.

It’s funny how I started off doing live event lighting 8 years ago during my secondary school and education, and despite having explored the world of media production I have found myself going back to where I started. Only this time I now have a whole range of skills to make me a better practitioner than ever. In terms of being a lighting designer I automatically limit myself to studio productions of live events, as the role does not exist outside of these mediums without including additional elements that don’t interest me (i.e. Cinematographer).

I feel I have a strong set of projects that can add to my portfolio and help point me in the director of this career path. Despite coming from a filmmaking background I feel I have built up a variety of skills that compliment the career choice. Now I know exactly where I want to be going with this craft specialism it will become my sole focus, with every other skills purely acting as a compliment to it. This entire pre-production period has been a huge benefit to me as a practitioner and I feel more determined in my mind to go get the career I am truly passionate about, whether it takes me to television, concerts, theatrical performance, or live events.

Producing In The Future

Personally I feel I hold the key traits of a producer; organisation, leadership, problem solving, etc. I saw this year as an opportunity to visit the role one final time to make a verdict as to whether I wanted to take it as a career path. Despite being complimented for my ability at this role I can’t see myself taking it on in the future. It is something I am good at but not where my passion lies.

Producing is one of those roles where physically taking on a project is the best way to understanding and develop the role. The World Of The Willows is a great project to have in my portfolio as it is so ambitious, in terms of producing something with high production value it can only increase my portfolio. I am enjoying having one last go at producing, but I am definitely viewing this project as my last opportunity to take this role on. There is nothing more to add about this, I flourish in the role, but I’m not passionate for it as a career.

Grading In The Future

Ever since discovering colour grading I have thoroughly enjoyed it professional and casually. The ability to manipulate an image so far and distort its original representation is amazing, seeing how far modern technology have developed to enable this. I have seen the role vital in building my understanding of colour; as a technical scientific measure and a creative stylistic tool. This understanding and love of colour is something I pride myself in, and think the blend of understanding is something unique that can happily find its way into the industry.

However despite all this development my role as a Colourist has really shifted. I really do love the process but I don’t think I’d ever really want to take it on as a career. I see it more of a hobby, potential freelance projects, but not sitting in a grading suites for days on end in places such as Films @59 or Evolutions. Due to this opinion I have changed my perspective and am now viewing it as a secondary role, the primary revolving around lighting. Never the less it is still an important skill to know and I feel it continues to develop my understanding of light and colour. I will continue to look into grading and colour space, but I can’t see myself wanting to walk out of university into a grading job.

Pre-Production Summary

This has been the most demanding of all the productions I am working on, mostly due to my prominent role as Producer, not even taking into account my additional role as Colourist. I have always said it was a strong idea and we had an amazing team to see it come to life; I still stand by that statement seeing the quality of development and what we have produced up to this date. Creatively this project has flourished in the pre-production period, and now we are at a point where the story is locked down the logistics for the project are setting in stone.

I feel I have been a strong leader for the project, with many of the crew have congratulated me on this ability, along with queries as to how I managed to actually control such a big project and not show any visible signs of breaking down under the stress of it all! Having a production team so willing and dedicated to the project has made my role as the producer easier. Having produced before I felt confident coming on board and have never had any doubt for the direction of the film.

Research has been scattered all over the place as I try to reign in as many elements that all attribute to the production. I am enjoying the fact I can focus purely on the logistical element and build a strong working relationship with everyone, especially Daniel Morgan (Director/Writer), Nathan White (Director/Writer), and Rashida Noray (1st AD, Transmedia Producer).

My role as colourist has always come second, with some elements of intensive focus. I feel as a producer it has made it difficult for me to develop this role, but the fact I am working as a colourist on other productions I still remain confident when it comes to executing the design. Dan and Nathan have been heavy influences on the visual style, and with such a demand as a producer I have no problem conforming to their directorial vision. I have had opportunities to experiment with the grade and I feel we can all come to an agreement in the grade for a style I can project onto the frame.

Approaching the production period the emphasis is now on securing locations and actors. The entire crew is ready to go, the script is as strong as it can be, and the full budget is in the final stages. All four of us will be working together to secure these two vital elements ready for production at the end of January. It may seem like we are cutting it close, and sometimes I do worry slightly, but with such a strong team I know it will all work in the end and translate to something stunning. Judging from the reaction from the industry panel during pitching I have no doubt expectations are high and we will deliver what we have promised.

Pre-Production Summary

Throughout the pre-production period I have always felt this project lacked vision, clarity, and a clear concept as to why it is being made. The idea was something that instantly appealed to me but it wasn’t until the past few weeks that I have actually had a clear idea of what style I am designing towards. The entire pre-production period has been a great opportunity to develop my ability as a lighting designer in general, and I feel my working knowledge of the Bower Ashton TV Studio has really increased my skill set.

Later With Jools Holland has been a huge influence throughout my research, and I am certain this will reflect in the style and execution of my work. As my department almost works independently from the rest of the studio I feel confident I can execute my designs perfectly without worrying about the crazy studio floor environment. There will be plenty of opportunities between now and the broadcast in April for further development and hopefully a broad understanding from the entire crew as to the creative vision of the project.

Heading towards the production period I can now create precise designs in relation to each band and the set design, all the time taking consideration for the budget I have been assigned. This is a great opportunity for the ability to flourish, if I can walk away from this project with one great performance I will be happy to have that evidence to take into employment and job prospects with me. I am really looking forward to this project as it is the most stylistic for lighting and of all the productions I am currently working on, and I feel it is the most appropriate considering the career path I want to head down.

Pre-Production Summary

My role on this extremely ambitious project has really been clarified and refined over the pre-production period. When I was first presented with the scale of the idea I was taken back by it, but now I have almost formed my own mini-production team concerning lighting I am ready to tackle this head on. Working closely with Daniel Minty (Producer) and Lewys Webber (Set Design) I think we have a strong working bond that is vital for the execution of the style for both projects.

I have thrived on the opportunity to do studio based lighting work and as a result I am seriously considering it as a future career path. My research has seen me explore studio productions and note the fine details despite being presented as a general studio wash from soft boxes. I feel my lighting design work will really come into play in terms of the actual set construction. This is where I can enhance the build and create stylistic elements, whereas the studio lighting will come across very basic and generic.

Approaching the production period I will continue to keep close contact with Lewys as we combine both our skills to build some amazing sets. I am ready for Bower Ashton based work, but feel I could do with looking into the Frenchay venue further as production approaches. I am loving that this is going back to my theatrical roots and will continue to take an active approach into the roles of lighting direction for studio and live event productions. As we get really close to the production period I anticipate everything stepping into overdrive for these departments as we set out to execute the ideas that we will continue to develop over the coming months to this point. I already have a small team of lighting assistants and know that the preparation that has happened and will continue to, will be key for making this a quick and efficient process.

Pre-Production Summary

From day one I think I have alway known the way I wanted to approach the grading for this documentary, and Liz Penny (Director) has enabled me to follow this concept sharing the same perspective on the visual style. It is based on a reflection of Billy’s psychology and I feel something so simple can have such a dramatic effect on the presentation of the subject matter.

This style of grading I feel confident about, and due to the unpredictable nature of the genre I really have no idea what footage I am going to be presented with to grade. I feel confident in myself, and I feel our team is strong and can capture the vital moments of this story to present on screen.

Approaching production I feel prepared for my input on the project. Billy has approved my style of grading and I think the subtly stylised image will enhance the story. As this is documentary I will make sure to keep in the loop with the production so I can develop my colour palette to reflect the changes in the narrative. My treatment for grading is perfect for the ideal narrative of the subject matter, but obviously as this is documentary it can all change in a single moment. I will be grading towards the end of April on DaVinci Resolve 11.

Lost In A Supermarket

Despite joining this project at a later date I feel like I found the perfect time to jump on board. Since I’ve come on board it seems like the production has vastly developed, mostly due to the confirmation of the location. This is the most exciting element of the production, filming in the SkyOne Trollied set at Bottleyard Studios in Bristol, taking place towards the beginning of February.

My development to lighting in this project hasn’t been needed massively as it is purely relying upon realism. I am fully confident with this style of light, complementing my work on some other projects, especially studio based productions. If we get confirmation of using the lighting rig already built into the studio it will make my job so much easier, and personally it would be an amazing opportunity to get to use this professional equipment.

I am still being considerate to not having access to the rig, being prepared to throw 2K lights for a similar effect. As a result Joe Cavaciuti and I (Director of Photography) are holding back on developing the shot list too much until we have confirmation on this rig as it will effect the presentation of the film. This is one of the elements that will be developed approaching the production period.

In terms of lighting I am pretty much ready to film, this rig can completely change that state of mind if unable to acquire. Never the less I am prepared for the worse. This is another project that can benefit to my build of an LED softbox which I will look into producing as the production period approaches.

Pre-Production Summary

My role as Colourist hasn’t always seen me to most involved in the development of the entire production, but whenever I have been I have seen great leadership and team skills. This is the earliest project that is going into production and everything seems to be in place. My pure focus has been on the use of colour in the film, everything I’ve read I am confident I can execute on screen in the post-production period.

Despite my pre-production process starting off slowly with this project as it developed further my involvement as the grader became more and more prominent. Jack Hayter (Director of Photography), Tom Barton (Director) and I are all aware how important the visual story is for the project and have constantly kept in contact to ensure this will be executed perfectly. I have full confidence in Jack Hayter in capturing me great image to work with. The fact the project is shot in RAW on the Red One makes the grading process really promising, I personally love having this expanded palette to edit with. I have already identified various based palettes and know I can enhance the story to Tom’s suggestions.

Approaching the production period I may take the opportunity to experience with these identified palettes, but it is really the case of receiving the footage and enhancing it. Tom has requested that I get down on the shoot as a form of ‘Colour Consultant’ in order to considering the filming in relation to the grade. I’m not sure if I can make the production period, but I will produce some documents addressing considering to make when filming (i.e. pushing colours of items to accommodate to pulling them back in the grade). I will be grading this project in late February.