Lighting New England
Written by Hillary von Schroeter | Posted by: erin
The influx of regional film production has increased the demand for local crews, actors, actresses and equipment — including lighting gear. Kaye Lites, which has provided lighting, grip, and expendables for over 19 years, has responded by expanding its warehouse space, opening the ASAP Supply Store in Woburn, MA, and devoting a unique space for customers to hang out and try new equipment.
One busy morning, I stopped in at Kaye Lites’ new Grip & Electric Lounge (located above the ASAP Supply Store) to become “illuminated” on lighting for film and video. I spoke with the owner, Stephen Kaye. Just in case you’re new to this: “lighting and electrical” on sets includes fixtures, generators, distribution (spreading the power throughout the set while sizing it to meet specific load requirements) and power cords. “Grip” includes stands, flags, sandbags, etc., and “expendables” are materials like rope, tape, roll goods, and gel filters (which adjust color temperature and create effects).
As I ascended the steps to the lounge, I quickly felt at home in the comfortable living room-like atmosphere, complete with couch, chairs, and a Matthews Round-d-Round dolly coffee table. The lounge is open Monday through Friday, 8 am – 5 pm (weekends/after hours by appointment) and invites customers in to relax, demo equipment, and brainstorm with experts before they buy or rent.
The lighting gear is set up facing a white wall to experiment with different designs of fixtures, or “heads” as they are called. Each type of head provides a different light quality (hard, soft, diffused, or focused, for example). Filmmakers can explore the different quality and intensities of light that these fixtures offer. “We let them come and figure things out here,” says Kaye, which is more economical than troubleshooting on set.
Kaye says that it’s common for customers to come in with a really large list of equipment that they think they need. But then they have to peel lights away in order to meet their budgets. Kaye would rather have customers come in with the overarching goals for the project’s lighting, as well as an honest budget, and tailor the lighting to each filmmaker’s situation.
But before bidding a project out, he suggests: “Shop around, look at the quality of the gear the supplier is carrying. Is the supplier trustworthy? Work with your supplier, demo the equipment and ask if it’s in good shape. If your budget is tight, ask for delayed payments or percentage points on your movie. Lastly, make sure you have insurance and that you’ve read the rental contracts.”
And always know what electrical current will be available on location.
Locations often dictate lighting and grip needs. Bigger-budget studio films rent base camp packages from Kaye Lites to distribute power to a parking lot full of trailers, for example. But wardrobes are usually in RVs, explains Kaye, and his clients were struggling to make adaptors. So Kaye purchased and started renting what he calls RV Lunchboxes — compact, customized power boxes with two or three outlets.
“We’ve gotten a good response,” says Kaye to adding Lunchboxes to his inventory. In fact, area electricians asked him if they could demo the new models and learn more about their features. Kaye acknowledges that’s exactly why he created the Grip & Electric Lounge, “Whether you are a set electrician and want to see newest RV Lunchbox or a newbie that wants to know the first light to buy or rent, I’ll do both.”
Not only does Kaye Lites rent and sell the equipment, but it provides crew if needed. Recently his crew has been used in films such as The Other Side of the Truth, The Women and Discovery Channel’s Time Warp.
All of the major lighting and grip manufacturers such as Kino Flo, Arri, Dedo-Tec, and Mole-Richardson keep Kaye Lites supplied with the latest equipment. To keep his inventory fresh and new, he often sells off his used pieces, which is another way for filmmakers to save money.
In the last few months, several low-budget films have used Kaye for their equipment needs including The Taken, which was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard. Kaye stays involved in the day-to-day operations to provide his expertise and pass on the pros and cons of the latest equipment. Kaye says, “A film community that works together is what makes everyone successful.”
Visit Kaye online at www.kayelites.com.