Lights Control Rigging: Mike Oates

Director, Lights Control Rigging

What first sparked your interest in the world of live events?

“It all started as the best way to skip double German at school. Once I started lighting school shows with the help and guidance of my physics teacher, I was hooked and I knew it was what I wanted to do from then on. After leaving school I went to Oldham College to study Theatre Lighting and Sound. I was drawn in by the spectacle of creating shows and it became my passion rather than just a job. I haven’t looked back since.”

Could you talk about the early stages of Lights Control Rigging (LCR) and how the company first came together?

“LCR was a dream for myself and Ryan Hopkins for some years. All we wanted to do was make a difference and provide an exceptional and unquestionable service with the best gear possible. We didn’t want to be machines that had targets and quotas to fill. The focus remains on our clients and achieving their creative vision. Before 2017, LCR was just Ryan and I around a dining room table offering a sourcing/management service to our clients. We never imagined it would become what it is now. The first item of kit we purchased was an MA Lighting grandMA2 onPC System. Then along came motors and rigging, then control and consoles and, eventually, lights. Of course, I couldn’t talk about our early stages and how the company has grown into what it is now without thanking our wives and families for all their help, support and understanding!”

Over the last two years what have been some of your highlights with LCR?

“This is quite a difficult question as so many amazing things have happened already. But winning the Ed Sheeran Divide world tour has to be one of the biggest highlights for us. It was a turning point for the business and immediately gave LCR a presence on the world stage. We have worked with so many amazing people on many projects over the last three years and have really hit the ground running.”

This year you have been working on the new facility. Could you talk about how progress is coming along?

“We moved into a brand new 20,000 sq ft building back in June. It was amazing to get the opportunity to work with the landlord before foundations were laid to decide on the layout of the warehouse and the yard space. Ryan has been very much the brains behind the building and we settled in quickly and starting operating from the new unit from day one. With the high bay storage and extended prep facilities it means we can turn jobs around a lot quicker and more efficiently and not worry too much about space. We also now have a dedicated technical department for repairs and custom product development, two pre-vis suites with MA Lighting MA 3D and WYSIWYG, and great staff amenities.”

How did it feel to win Favourite Lighting Rental Company at the TPi Awards in February?

“When our name was called out, I had to pinch myself. It was so unexpected! It was made even more special for us as we got to share the moment with all the people who helped us get there sat on the table with us. You often wonder if you’re heading in the right direction and if you really are making a difference. Winning an award like this really confirms that the hard work and determination and all those hours spent making sure the kit is meticulous is worthwhile.”