!nsp!re – THE ASSISTANT LIGHTING DESIGNER’S TOOLKIT by Anne E. McMills

The Assistant Lighting Designer's Toolkit
The Assistant Lighting Designer’s Toolkit

I just finished reading Anne E. McMills new book, THE ASSISTANT LIGHTING DESIGNER’S TOOLKIT, and I found it to be a comprehensive guide to a profession that is often, sadly, overlooked in the entertainment industry.

The book is set into four main parts: The Profession, The Process, The Paperwork, and The Industry. Within each area, Anne dives deeper, proffering concrete information about her subject. Calling this book a toolkit is a perfect description. Peppered throughout are tips, tricks, and insight, drawing not only from Anne’s extensive experience across a broad spectrum of entertainment, but from other design professionals as well.

Her detailed descriptions of the expectations of an assistant and their role in each of the four areas is comprehensive and thoughtful; especially during “The Process”, where she steps through, in great detail, design prep, loading in, and tech rehearsals. Also included are descriptions of each of the “players”  in addition to advice on how to work with some of the different personalities one might encounter.

In Part 4, “The Industry”, she does a great service to her readers by touching on areas of employment for lighting personnel. From the obvious, like Broadway and the West End to other areas that might not typically be considered; like architectural, industrials, and themed entertainment. Many people in this field are driven to work only in the theater, so its great to see someone discussing the many areas of employment open to those who are interested.

Anne features all manner of charts, photos, and diagrams to illustrate her points; with examples from notable designers like Ken Billington, Don Holder, Andrew Bridge and many, many others.

Notably, in the final part, she doesn’t shy away from discussing the challenges in making a living in this predominantly free-lance industry. Here again, she offers advice and practical tips on how to make things work for you, while pursuing your passion.

The book wraps up with a comprehensive appendix, full of checklists and samples that are invaluable.

Whether you’re looking to be an assistant or a designer or both; there is a wealth of pertinent information provided for you in this book. Anne’s writing style is easy and personable, and she lays out her information so that its accessible and easy to digest.

From Focal Press, the book can be purchased through numerous outlets like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

You can also checkout ALDToolkit to learn more about the book and the author.