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How Do I Become a Lighting Director?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 06 December 2016
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If you want to become a lighting director, then you should have a background in theater or film and television, as well as a sense of art direction and lighting in general. You do not typically need to have professional experience as an electrician, though this is one way to gain experience in working with different lighting hardware. A lighting director must often have a general sense of how lighting can affect a scene and an eye for artistic lighting in particular, which can be gained through a program in television production. Once you have the background and experience you need to become a lighting director, you should look for opportunities to work with different directors or production companies.

To become a lighting director, you should be sure to consider the educational background you may need. A lighting director is typically a person who works on a television crew or with a theatrical production to create the lighting that illuminates a set for shooting or showing a particular scene. This position is often referred to as a lighting designer in the US, while the term “lighting director” is commonly used in the UK. While no particular educational background is necessarily required to become a lighting director, you should consider classes in theater and television production, especially those aimed at lighting and set design.

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There are a number of ways in which you can become a lighting director, though in general you should consider different avenues that may give you the experience you need in working with lights and entertainment. You can, for example, work on lighting for live performances, such as concerts or stage plays. While lighting directors are not necessarily electricians, as electrical wiring is typically done by gaffers on a film or television set, you can use electrical work to help you gain experience in setting up and controlling lighting.

To actually become a lighting director and work professionally, however, can be somewhat difficult. While many lighting directors were once employed directly by studios, most lighting directors now work freelance or with particular production companies. You should look for new projects going into production, as the work of a lighting director often begins during pre-production. Making contacts within the television or theater industry can be crucial in helping you become a lighting director, so you should consider joining any professional associations for those involved in entertainment illumination in your country.

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