Interview with Leandro Calonge

A few years ago we interviewed the highly respected professional and educator for entertainment lighting, Leandro  Calonge. As his opinion is, without any doubt, an  important reference to consider, we got back to him to speak about the current situation in Argentina: a quarantine still in force after 5 months, without the possibility to make live performances with a real audience. Although some shows began via streaming, everyone agrees that it is not enough to approach the level of previous activity. With this reference we re-established the contact with Leandro to ask his opinion regarding the current situation of show production and his vision for the immediate future and also to talk about distance training options in careers related to show business.

leandro calonge ma

Leandro Calonge In what working context did the pandemic take you?

Leandro  Calonge: For a long time, I have been working exclusively on improving the coordination of the IFOE institute; this position occupies all my time. The institute has been growing exponentially for 8 years and requires more and more management and a team focused on improving the student experience.
My position in the organization is a bit strange … if you ask me to define it I would say “Development and Futurology” (laughs). My work is to oversee and understand what is going to happen, what are the trends and new technologies. I am also in charge of developing and incorporating new management tools. Finally, I care about maintaining the standard of the institute internationally. If you were part of an advisory group that analyzes the return of shows, what proposals would you make?

Leandro  Calonge: I think the question is not when, but how, or what we can improve. The mistake is thinking to get back to work as quickly as possible the way we did before.
My proposal would be to solve first the economic situation and then the underlying problems that arose from the pandemic.
I certainly believe that a lot of options are open, that can complement the services that companies provide in the entertainment industry. Could you give some examples of that options?

Leandro  Calonge: For example, logistics, online marketing, computer systems, computer security, streaming and audiovisual coverage, among many others. Being in contact with many colleagues from Argentina and the rest of the world, you surely have an extremely broad panorama of the current context. What visions or positions could you identify for the work methods to come in the future?

Leandro  Calonge: The comments are truly diverse. I try to take the most positive ones. I think most chose to reinvent themselves, and many did it successfully. At least in Latin America the light is not yet seen at the end of the tunnel. Thinking about the return of the shows as we knew them is difficult for now, but we can work with what we have and with the certainty that the industry will come back and then it will grow very fast. Paying attention to touring, what elements should be incorporated into contracts between artists and touring staff that wasn’t considered previously?

Leandro  Calonge: When you tour with large productions, everything is very well stipulated; rarely a company does have to make large claims. The problem is with small productions, because many times these tours are not economically viable and are done in questionable conditions. Over time and with experience, one can mend some conditions on essential things: transportation, hospitality and fees, among other things. Can you imagine new types of shows? What do you envision for the near future?

Leandro  Calonge: The future is already past. I regularly attend concerts in Virtual Reality, Gaming and streaming. I always enjoy concerts and shows on DVD or online; I think it is a form of enjoying a show that we already had, and it just reinvented itself. Do you think lighting designs are going to change? If so, where do you see the changes, and for what reason?

Leandro  Calonge: I think the design is not going to change, what is going to change is the support, and if the lighting design for video games and shows are created within this type of support. I think this is going to add more work and a new sub-item in the industry. The traditional will continue. Could you tell us what the IFOE is and what it offers?

Leandro  Calonge: The Institute of training for entertainment trades (IFOE, by its acronym in Spanish) is a face-to-face and online school with more than 10 years of experience in the field. Our commitment is to create educational content for new trades and perfect the trades already known in the entertainment industry.
IFOE’s challenge is to integrate and train new figures in the show business. For example, a new job is the Show Automation Manager. There is still no curriculum where this activity is included and how it should be done. Other trades are in the same situation, such as lighting programmers and operators, pixel mappers, video mappers, among many others.
We are studying and developing new educational proposals, training our teachers and creating new instances so that students can become experts in their area of interest. Did the pandemic cause changes in teaching programs? Did it generate new opportunities?
We went through several instances, at the beginning of the pandemic the state was very uncertain, but over time the students turned to online programs and the demand grew, the supply too, some worked incredibly good.
Our academic program expanded a lot in offer, but it is the method that we have been using for a long time.

Leandro  Calonge: What is your personal experience to the situation we are going through you?
Personally, family bonds and real contacts were greatly strengthened. Perhaps at the speed in which we live, it is sometimes difficult to really connect, and more than ever we are establishing lasting relationships with our students, knowing their interests in detail and allowing them to know us more as colleagues or friends than as institutions.

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