Profiles - A Light-Hearted Look at Industry Personalities

Mark Ravenhill

Director of Key Global Players, GL

No. 21 in a continuing series

Mark Ravenhill

Caricatures by

David Lewis

Following experience gained from shifting scenery and hanging lights for the local amateurs, by the time Mark Ravenhill had reached 14 he knew his future was in lighting. He soon made contact with one of his local theatres, the Theatre Royal in Winchester, a 409-seat professional touring venue where the only paid member of the backstage staff was the technical manager. He duly learned with a vengeance from his peers against an atmosphere that he considered fantastic, no matter what the day or hour.

Through contacts with other local stage crew, more work became available at various theatres in the Hampshire area including the new Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, a 2,250 seat number 1 touring venue. After leaving school, he enrolled on a technical theatre course at Highbury College of Technology near Portsmouth, but found he was being taught things he already knew. Then, in 1987, a chief electrician position became available at the Theatre Royal in Winchester and Mark ended up with his first full time job in theatre. Two years on he felt it was time to spread his wings and joined Blazers cabaret club in Windsor as stage manager. Here, all the top cabaret artistes of the day trooped through including Jim Davidson, Lenny Henry, Joe Longthorne and even The Barron Knights!

With the rave scene taking over, a three month refurbishment gave him installation experience as Blazers became ‘Mirage'. Part of this refurbishment involved a new lighting system from Squires which included four Martin Professional 1005 scanners and a dedicated controller. This was in the days before Martin UK was established and the technical manager, Steve Rawlins (now of Intelligent Lighting Design in Singapore) and Mark became highly experienced in the programming of the fixtures. When Martin UK was born, experienced programmers were needed, and the duo were drafted in on a freelance basis.

Finding life at Mirage drifting away from what he wanted to do, Mark found a job at Thorpe Park for a summer season working in its various venues. Then, in 1991, he and Steve Rawlins got the call to produce the Martin lightshow for that year's PLASA Show. This also meant meeting up with then Martin boss Peter Johanssen, who was impressed enough to invite them to LDI in Reno to produce the show there. Whilst there, he persuaded them to produce all the company's shows from Denmark.

By January 1992 Mark was in Denmark - also organising dealer training and lighting larger shows for the Martin distributors around the world. He loved every minute of it and gained experience lighting TV shows, festivals, outdoor spectaculars, concerts, theatre shows and nightclubs - and started friendships with industry people around the world.

In 1993 he teamed up with leading LD Roy Bennett who designed the LDI presentation that year. Roy and Mark sat for almost 48 hours solid programming the show, but it was worth it in the end as it was awarded the light show of the year award at the exhibition. The next year LD Jonathan Smeeton was brought in for PLASA. Another amazing lightshow resulted, but due to space restrictions, it had to be tailored down for LDI. As Smeeton was already committed elsewhere, Mark and Steve Rawlins took the project forward alone and it duly won the best show award at LDI for the second year running.

A period of freelancing on productions worldwide followed before Mark joined A.C. Lighting in 1996 as a member of their technical sales team and it provided him with an excellent opportunity to gain more product knowledge. Amongst other things, he was one of the people responsible for operator training on the Wholehog II console during its formative years. Working with Mike Falconer they manned the telephones between them 24 hours a day so as to give full technical support to the A.C. Lighting product range.

An interlude in the US followed, with Mark looking to get out of the office and his hands ‘dirty' again, but the trip didn't work out as planned, and on his return was approached by A.C. Lighting's David Leggett who asked if he would like to come back after his ‘holiday'. He took up the new position of marketing manager for the company, going through another great learning curve, as he helped increase A.C. Lighting's presence with customers and in the industry. At the time when Mark decided that he wasn't really a marketer, a call came through from Martin Professional.

Martin were going through some major changes in their UK organisation and were looking for someone to head up their touring, theatre and television sales team in the UK, a post he took up in August 2000. It was a vastly different company from the ‘old' Martin he had previously known, since the company was now publicly traded and under new management. After helping to establish the new sales levels in the UK operation, Mark then received the call from head office to move to Denmark at the end of 2001.

So his family upped sticks and moved back to Denmark with Mark taking up the position of Product Manager for the company's range of moving head fixtures. This position ran through a hectic time for Martins product releases, with Mark responsible for a raft of new fixtures including the MAC 2000 Wash, the MAC 250 Wash, Krypton and Entour fixtures and then overseeing the development and introduction of Martin's first tungsten moving head, the MAC TW1, as the company's International Segment Manager for Stage, Studio and Event applications. This was all intertwined with an increased focus on some of the major sporting events around the world, including assisting supplying a major part of the lighting system for the 2004 Athens summer Olympic games, for which Mark was recognised with an Emmy citation from the lighting design team.

More change then arrived at Martin in management of the company as Mark relocated to the company's US facility in Florida, which was also going through some change, to get his fingers more under the skin of the US market and to assist the company's sales and marketing efforts there. It was during this time of new management that a new company structure was introduced and Mark was appointed Vice President for the global television and theatre market segment. Once again, more major sporting events weaved in and out of daily work with projects like the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and the 2006 Asian games in Doha being two of the highlights. Bearing witness to an unheard of amount of rain in the middle of the Doha desert landscape during the day and night of the opening ceremony remains a memory almost too bad to be true and caused everyone to miss a breath as the Emir's son rode a 45 degree angle on horseback to light the flame of the games. It was like a moment from a stunt show to say the least!

After two years in the US, it was time to go east again back to Denmark and Martin's head office, complete with the family's latest addition, Elliott. Assisting in securing delivery to more major events followed including the Beijing summer Olympics in August 2008 and the Singapore National Day Parade which took place just one day later, before Mark chose to leave the company at the end of 2008.

A short break to spend time with his fast growing son and rest of his family, before those precious moments slipped by, ensued before Mark joined GLP - German Light Products in Spring 2009.

Mark has taken up a position of Director of Key Global Players. A swanky title which will see his focus placed firmly on those decision makers within the industry, offering the dedicated support and service that he has become known for. After his introduction with the company, Mark will be picking up his family again as they look to settle in one of the hearts of the worlds lighting industry, Los Angeles, in order to capitalise on GLP's ever growing range of breakthrough and innovative product

Look out for the next subject in our Profile series...

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