Share Your Knowledge, Help 17-Year-Old AV Guy

Teenager Will Flavin talks about the challenges, rewards of balancing life as high schooler and lighting programmer.

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Editor’s note: Will Flavin, 17, is a lighting programmer for Flavin Lighting Design and junior at Caddo Magnet High School in Shreveport, La. See examples of his work on his YouTube channel.

The lighting industry is an exciting world in which to build a career. There are challenges to be faced. That being said, there is also great reward. I have already had many great experiences and worked with talented professionals. There are so many opportunities in this business.

This can be a very competitive industry. We work with equipment that can end up costing millions of dollars when put together in an integrated system. Because of this, production managers tend to think with age comes responsibility. I would say that is not always the case.

I think we have this idea that to be a professional, you have to be a part of the biggest show in the country or run the biggest lighting console. I believe what makes a professional is someone who is striving to learn about his or her industry, can see his or her mistakes and strives to be better.

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Age is a deal breaker for many jobs and high quality work can be looked over because of it. I have worked with people who love to teach everything they know as well with those who do not share the same professional courtesy. I think we should set a new standard of teaching the younger generation. Everyone has to start somewhere, and when people are willing to teach it becomes much easier to learn and get better.

Even though being young in this industry may not always be ideal, it can be very rewarding. One of the reasons I really enjoy my job is I get to meet and work with a wide variety of people. For me, it is great to work on a show for weeks or even months and finally see it come together. I enjoy sharing ideas with other members of the crew, whether it is hitting the same cue at the right time or having video backgrounds match the lighting design.

I believe making mistakes is essential in this business. The live event industry is one with little room for error. Making mistakes as soon as possible and learning from them is very important. When you make a mistake, you will learn very quickly not to make it again. I think being a young person in the industry, I have an advantage because people I work with teach me how not to make mistakes.

When you lock on with what the band is doing and you can feel the response of the crowd, it can be really powerful. As the lighting designer, it is my job to use all the lighting instruments to enhance what the band is doing on stage and create an environment allowing for a greater audience experience. With the fast-paced growth of technology, it is challenging to continually find ways to impress an audience. These are challenges I have to face on every show. One of my goals is to design something pleasing for the audience to see.

Photos: Check out Flavin’s portfolio