036lighting-technician.jpgUCAS (No Date) ‘Lighting Technician’

In this session we learned all about Lighting Engineers, what they do and how you become one. This session was really eye opening. I have to admit that before this session I knew very little about the job of a Lighting Engineer. As an individual I have worked in my schools theatre doing lighting and follow spot for nearly 3 years but, because I was under 16 at the time, I wasn’t allowed to do a large variety of things that a normal Lighting Director would do. For example I wasn’t able to maintain the lights, as it would have been for me at the time.

What does a Lighting Engineer do?

Design the lighting setup:

A Lighting Engineer designs the lighting setup. By this I mean the Lighting Engineer will design the lights to set up the look of the scene. For example will natural lighting be used? Will the lights all by unnatural light sources? What type of lighting would create the best mood for the scene?

One recent example of how designing the lighting setup can change the whole look and feel of the scene is in the recent ITV eight part Thriller Paranoid ( Mark Tonderai 2016. ) One of the really effective moments in the show is where we see characters coming out of the darkness into the light to make statements. This is really effective as it shows people are living in the dark shadow, and making these statements is helping to bring them out of this darkness, and back into the light again. This is just one example of how the Lighting Designer can clearly change the overall feel of a TV show or Film.


Maintain the lights:

The lighting director is also able to main the lights. By this I mean that they are able to repair a light is it happens to break. They also would have to have the skills to take lights down from a light rig to be able to fix them.

To be honest, at first, I didn’t understand the extent of the importance of being able to do this, as I assumed that lights breaking wouldn’t happen very often. I now realise that this is completely wrong. It is so important for a Lighting Director to be able to fix lights quickly and effectively. This is because if you are on set and one of the lights break, the whole production is held up. The actors wouldn’t be able to perform because, as I said previously, the lighting can change the whole atmosphere of the TV show or Film. This means that if the Lighting Director cannot fix something that is his/her responsibility, it holds up everyone else from being able to complete their tasks.


Setup the lights:

The Lighting Director also has to set up lights to the agreed design. Before doing this the Lighting director will draw up a storyboard of how the lights will be setup. Again, this is such an important part of the job as just a tiny change in the positioning of a light can change the whole atmosphere of the scene.


How to become a Lighting Director – Career Path:

  • Work experience: work experience is an amazing way the gain first hand experience in the industry. When it comes to work experience specifically for Lighting, this can be very hard to find. I found out that the best place to find work experience for this is to look into theatres. For instance you could ask at your local theatre to see if there was a production on that you could volunteer in to be a Lighting Director for.
  • University:  University is a really important step in the journey to become a Lighting Director. Going to university first and foremost helps you to gain valuable knowledge and experience. You will be surrounded by people passionate about what you are, and this means you will be able to receive more contacts, which will really help in the future. Also, university will help you make your own luck. By this I mean university is a way to pick up contacts, learn, and get yourself out there. Finally, universities also provide a provable level or education.
  • from there you can go on to do a variety of different things. The three main things you can go on to do are internships, apprenticeships and freelance work. 


An internship is where you work for free. Although this may seem like something negative, it is actually a really helpful and informative experience, that can not only give you more experience, but can also help you to get other jobs in the future. This is because when applying for jobs employers often look for previous experience. This is why internships can be very helpful when it comes to getting jobs in the future. As well as this it is an amazing memorable experience where you are doing what you love.


An apprenticeship is basically a paid internship. You are payed to study. The good thing about apprenticeships is, firstly you are getting paid, secondly it is amazing work experience that employers will be looking for.
But you also get a certificate after it at the end, meaning the employers will see it as a form of education, suggesting you have lots of experience and knowledge in the field.


Freelance means that you are self employed. You with people who are creating films or TV shows. One example of this is that the BBC often employ freelance people to do things such as Lighting Engineering. This is a great way to work on lots of different things and put your work into action. The only negative thing about being a Freelancer is that you never know where your next job will be, and therefore when your next paycheque will come from.


Harvard Referencing:

UCAS (No Date) ‘Lighting Technician’ Available at: https://www.ucas.com/ucas/after-gcses/find-career-ideas/explore-jobs/job-profile/lighting-technician (Last Accessed: 25th October 2016)