Normally, the gaffer is the head of the lighting department, but on shows with anything more than a passing resemblance to theater (operas, concerts, ice shows, ballroom dancing), there will also be a lighting designer, who is responsible for the theatrical lighting.
Anything that’s part of what would be the theater rig falls under the authority of the lighting designer, so since I was working a follow spot today, I was on the channel with the LD, and not the gaffer.
Normally, the LD sits in a sound proof booth and during the performance, will call out directions to the spotlight operators. The spotlights are given numbers to simplify things, so instead of having to remember names, the LD can just call out “spot 3, pick up downstage left”, or “spot 4, pan up to get the drummer”.
Which is great, when it works.
For this particular show, there was no booth for the LD, so he was sitting next to the monitor, and when they turned on the playback, all we heard over the walkies was something like a radio not quite on the right channel.
Since the venue in which we were shooting is not known for stellar acoustics, none of us could even hear what we were thinking.
The LD, once we explained that we couldn’t hear him during playback, sighed and just gave us direction in between takes.
Lucky for all of us there wasn’t too much movement on stage.
The main problem was that our spotlights were on a catwalk that required steep stairs and a ladder to reach – which was fine, except for the lack of a loo.
At this point, I’m sure someone is going to suggest I just pee in the chain bag.
Second, I have my period, because of course I do. And trust me, no one wants to find that in the chain bag.
I got lucky today that the periods of inactivity coincided with when I needed to slip away, but tomorrow I might be fucked because the call sheet has performance numbers all day.
I’ll have to double up (tampon and a giant pad), and bring up a plastic bag and some wet wipes.
Good thing this show is requiring we all wear black clothes.
I’m back tomorrow and Friday.