1st Edition

The Assistant Lighting Designer's Toolkit

ISBN 9780415711210
Published June 2, 2014 by Routledge
454 Pages

USD $46.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

What are the do’s and don’ts of being a good assistant lighting designer?

What are focus tapes, and how do I use them?

What is the best method for creating a magic sheet?

What should be found in every assistant’s kit?

How do I make that first important leap into this professional career?


Answer these questions and many more with The Assistant Lighting Designer’s Toolkit. This definitive guide unlocks the insider-secrets used to succeed as a professional assistant lighting designer (ALD) – whether choosing assisting as a career or while transitioning to another. This book outlines, step-by-step, the challenges the ALD faces during every phase of production. Never before has a resource existed that views the design process through the eyes of the assistant.


Intermingled among the nuts and bolts of the paperwork and essential procedures, top industry professionals reveal tips for personal survival in this challenging career – both domestically and abroad as well as in other careers in lighting. Within these pages are the industry secrets rarely taught in school!


The author's website can be found at http://www.aldtoolkit.com/.

Table of Contents



Common Theatrical Abbreviations

PART 1: The Profession

Chapter 1 – Understanding Assisting

Chapter 2 – The Tools Required

Chapter 3 – Production Personnel

Chapter 4 – Unions

PART 2: The Process

Chapter 5 – Design Prep

Chapter 6 – Load-in

Chapter 7 – Tech

Chapter 8 – Previews & Performances

PART 3: The Paperwork

Chapter 9 – Pre-production Paperwork

Chapter 10 – Tech Process Paperwork

PART 4: The Industry

Chapter 11 – U.S.-based Employment Opportunities

Chapter 12 – Working Outside the United States

Chapter 13 – Working in Industries Outside of Theatre

PART 5: The Life

Chapter 14 – Working as an Independent Contractor



Appendix A: Step-by-Step Assistant’s Checklist

Appendix B: Design Package Checklist

Appendix C: Assistant’s Kit Checklist

Appendix D: Electronic Folder Organization

Appendix E: Site Survey Measurements

Appendix F: Sample Shop Order

Appendix G: Sample Cover Letter and Resume

Appendix H: Contributing Designers and Associates

Appendix I: Product Websites

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Anne E. McMills’ career extends across the vast landscape of the lighting world – from theatre (including Broadway and the West End) to television and theme parks to architecture, industrials, concerts, awards shows, dance, and opera. In addition to designing her own work, Anne works as an associate lighting designer assisting award-winning Broadway designers such as Brian MacDevitt, Howell Binkley, Peter Kaczorowski, Jason Lyons, David Lander, Brian Monahan, and Ken Billington. Anne is the Head of Design at California State University, Los Angeles, and a member of United Scenic Artists, Local 829. In the Fall of 2014, Anne will join the faculty of San Diego State University, leading the MFA in Lighting Design.


"The Assistant Lighting Designer's Toolkit is a book the lighting world needs and should be required reading for all new – and not so new – lighting designers."

– Ken Billington

"The Assistant Lighting Designer's Toolkit sets out to fill a big gap in the market of lighting books -- a huge help to so many aspiring ALD's and teaches us 'mature' designers how to better behave! This book is marvelous."

– Richard Pilbrow, internationally known Author and Lighting Designer; voted "one of the 50 most powerful people in the entertainment technology industry" (Live Design 2010)

"The Assistant Lighting Designer's Toolkit is a great addition to just about everyone's lighting library. Lots of how-to info from the tech table battle front."

– Scott Parker, Lighting Designer, Columbus State University

"This unique, impressive book has the detail of a Broadway lighting show “bible” with each element of a lighting design clearly prepared, presented and documented...It is vital reading for a designer or student going to work or study in the US."

- Paul Davies, Focus Magazine

"The Assistant Lighting Designer’s Toolkit is...chock-full of information and insights. Whatever your experience level, it is a worthy addition to your theatre library. For those making the transition from life as a lighting design student to the professional market, it is an invaluable resource."

- Ellen E. Jones, Lighting & Sound America

"The Assistant Lighting Designer's Toolkit is now on my short list of the two or three most important books for aspiring professional lighting designers. She [Anne E. McMills] has completed a task that began twenty-five years ago with a brief magazine article by Craig Miller. As he would have said, "A Plus, Gold Star!""

- Michael Lincoln, Threatre Design & Technology