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Old Settler
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TimelineIn-Depth InterviewsKey ScenesProduction RolesAbout the Show
Working With the Director
The Look
The Job of Lighting
Hi-Def Video
The Shoot

DP Role & Bio

The Director In-Depth

The Production Designer In-Depth

Printable Version

John Simmons: The Director of Photography In-Depth


The Job of Lighting

Leading the Lighting Crew

John Simmons 
"The essential people that work close to me in order to get my job done are my gaffer, Edwin Schiernecker, who's in charge of the lighting.

I basically describe to him what it is I'm looking for. He brings the elements in and we paint the picture.

On this show, a man named Dave Terry is my key grip. He's in charge of the shadow and all the rigging. So I have Edwin who brings in the light, Dave who brings in the shadows. Edwin takes care of all the electrical stuff, Dave takes care of all the rigging, all the flags. Jim Bandy works the dimmer board. He takes care of the intensity of the light, working closely with Edwin."


Gaffer Edwin Schiernecker
Gaffer Edwin Schiernecker examines the lighting he created for the Savoy Ballroom scene


Lighting the Scene

Debbie Allen by a window
The DP and gaffer use light to make a scene from The Old Settler look like a painting


John Simmons 
"I have a gaffer, Edwin Schiernecker, who I've been working with for a very long time.

Edwin and I can get on the same page rather quickly because we both like paintings.

I can say a painter's name and because we've spent late nights looking at different artists we can basically say we want this restaurant to feel like Caravaggio or we want the kitchen to be like Vermeer in the morning. Or okay, it's late afternoon, let's make this feel like Hopper and make the shadows very definite."


Chopping the Light Up

John Simmons 
"[A big part of the job is] 'chopping' the light up. Once we put the light in we chop the light away.

Because the name of the game is to put the light where you want people to see and put the shadow where you don't want them to see.

And those two things together create the mood of the picture."


Gaffer's crew positions a light
A member of the gaffer's crew positions a light with a cloth 'flag'in front of it


The Dimmer Board

Jim Bandy
Jim Bandy works the dimmer board


John Simmons 
"We have everything on a dimmer board because being on this schedule we don't have time to re-light anything. We do all our lighting plots in pre-production, and for the most part we try to do as much lighting as we can in advance during the rehearsal. And situations that we can't anticipate we have to light as the situation arises. If we do close-ups we have to tweak them and make them look nice.

The guy in charge of the dimmer board can turn those lights off and on as we need them or bring them down, or change a window from daytime to nighttime."


The Look   |   The Job of Lighting   |   High-Definition Video



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