Writing this interview in the middle of the summer in a city that is usually bustling with live music but is now resembling more of a ghost town makes me miss last summer and the shows we did as a team at Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles. We had so much fun! It all seems so far away right now but we have to keep up the hope that the show will go on someday.
I worked with Chris as part of the same production team, he as the Lighting Designer and me as the Stage Manager/Production Intern. Just like with Video Technician Joseph Himes, I was in contact with Chris over a walkie talkie on cuing lights during our shows, he at FOH and me backstage or on stage. We also worked together on building and tearing down the stage. I’ve always had interest in concert lighting so I asked him a lot of questions and he patiently shared his knowledge and told me more about what he does.
Chris is one of the friendliest people I’ve worked with, he’s humble and works hard to make the show beautiful with his lighting skills. His story is a great example of how well a production team can work together and how much fun you can have at work when you have the right team dynamics and attitude. Chris and our Assistant Production Manager and Monitor Engineer Andrew Perez were always teasing each other and just having a blast together at work (like you can see below). They even went on tour together after the summer concert series ended at Levitt LA. Always remember to have fun at work, after all this is what you wanted to do all your life, right?!
This is Chris’ story.
Hi Chris! Please tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do at Levitt.
At Levitt Pavilion, I am the Lighting Designer. So, basically what we do is set up the stage plot for the lights, we hang all the lights, program everything for the shows as far as different cues and positions of the lights. Also, making sure that the lights are in good condition so maintaining the equipment. And making cables. Pretty much all the duties of the Lighting Designer at Levitt. I also help out with basic production.
What have you done before and how did you end up working at Levitt?
Before, I was an audio engineer, technically I still am, but I ended up at Levitt actually from covering one of my co-workers. He took a day off and asked me to cover for him. Then from then, I learned how to do lighting there and how their setup was and I got offered the position to do lighting over there. It kind of worked out.
So, you didn’t do lighting before?
I did a little bit of lighting before. I was kind of familiar with the grandMA program but pretty much for the Levitt, my first three years were like really doing lighting.
What’s the best thing about your work?
Working with music and the crew I work with. We all get along and it’s a fun environment, everybody knows everybody. Just making the show run well and also look beautiful.
What’s the biggest challenge in your work?
Probably working with Andrew Perez (joking)… No, probably the biggest challenge…
(Andrew, the Assistant Production Manager and Monitor Engineer, laughing and joking in the background: I feel invaded. You drop my name to make fun of me but the one that got you the gig that you dropped was like “my co-worker”. My hardest difficulty is dealing with Andrew Perez…)
Chris continues (laughing): If you go back in the interview you know that I’m making a second reference to Andrew.
The most difficult part would probably be moving a lot of the equipment that can be kind of stressful on your body. I feel physically that would be the most difficult part. Other than troubleshooting everything, that would pretty much be it.
What would you like to say to a newbie who wants to work as a Lighting Designer?
Research. Do a lot of research, learn the different lighting fixtures, what they can do, and watch a lot of shows to get ideas. Use your imagination. And just have fun!
Feel free to promote yourself and your services, how people can find you on social media, etc.
If you’re interested in my work you can follow me on Instagram @sick_ward.
More interviews with the Levitt crew:
- Interview with Allegra Padilla, Director of Community Relations & Partnerships
- Interview with Blu Valdivia, Security Lead
- Interview with Jenny Nunfio, Maintenance Coordinator
- Interview with Joseph Himes, Video Technician
Wanna read more interviews with live music professionals? Click here