What does a spark do?
Sparks look after all the electrical equipment needed to make a TV show, in particular the lighting. They help plan it. They rig (set it up). They operate it, maintain it and de-rig.
During the planning stage of a programme, sparks assess the kit. They set it up and make sure all electrical equipment is working safely throughout the production. This might involve testing, cleaning and repairing equipment and writing dimmers and circuit boards.
Sparks are in charge of the generators that power the outside broadcast vehicles and location lighting. They also monitor electricity usage during shooting to see if additional power resources are needed. Whether on a live outside broadcast or recorded studio show, they work with the lighting director (LD) and camera operators to position the lights and make sure they achieve the desired effect, softening or sharpening the lighting as required. They may operate lighting consoles on some productions.
Sparks tend to work freelance.
What’s an electrician good at?
- Electrical knowledge: have official electrical qualifications and a thorough knowledge and understanding of circuits, power supplies, motors, cables, fuses, thermal relays, fault current protection switches, heating, air conditioning and more
- Lighting skills: a good eye for colour, able to use all lighting equipment and aware of what can and can’t be achieved at different locations
- Communication: take direction well and work effectively within a team
- Health and safety: know health and safety issues including legal requirements, have strong attention to detail
- Manual dexterity: be able to do a physically demanding, hands-on job, sometimes at heights, and work long hours