profiles - a light-hearted look at industry personalities
No. 26 in a continuing series
Paul de Ville
Managing Director, Lightfactor
Born in East London, within the sound of Bow Bells, and a true Cockney, theatre work was not an obvious choice for Paul, but towards the end of his time at school, as a means of encouraging him attend he was asked to join the lighting and stage management team for the school play. Soon he was also helping local amateur theatre groups back stage and on lighting. In fact, when asked by one of the teachers if he thought rigging the lights for a production that week was more important long term that revising for an exam the following week he left the classroom to rig the lights, and his life's pattern was set.
To the surprise of his school and the dismay of his family, he opted to go to college to continue his interest in the technical side of theatre and completed a two-year stage management and technical theatre course at Middlesex Polytechnic. The course was largely practical and gave a full grounding in all aspects of the technical side of the arts from working in wardrobe to video and film editing. With the encouragement of the College, he soon joined the crews of several London theatres.
After the course had finished, he continued to work in the West End, eventually joining Theatre Projects, at that time one of the country's leading entertainment technology suppliers. It gave him the opportunity to learn, not just about the wide range of activities and products the company was involved with but also from the wide array of people at TP, their customers and suppliers.
After leaving Theatre Projects, and while at the Shaftsbury Theatre he had a call from Bob Peach of Action Lighting (who had also worked at Theatre Projects). Bob asked him if he could help in the sales office for two weeks whilst someone was on holiday. This lead him to agree a more full-time contract with David Morgan, managing director of Action Lighting, but still allowed him time to work on theatre productions.
At this time in the late 80's, Action Lighting was a small but very successful lamp wholesaler that had just started to trade in other products. This new area of activity was Paul's responsibility, and he decided to commit his time fully to the company. After a couple of years, Action Lighting changed its name to Lighting Technology Group and grew to be one of the most successful companies in the industry.
During this period, Paul oversaw the expansion of the products handled as well as the services offered by the group. He was made Business Development Director and says that his success in developing the products the Group sold was because he understood their application. His 'hands-on' experience working in the theatre had given him an invaluable knowledge and understanding.
After 15 years working with Action Lighting/Lighting Technology Paul decided the time was right to seek fresh challenges, and he left the company in August 2000 with the intention of taking a few months off. During a chance conversation with Mick Hannaford about what he was going to do next, Mick asked him to take over the day-to-day running of Lightfactor so that he could concentrate on his company Light Processor. After a long cup of tea, an agreement was made and Paul took over as Managing Director of Lightfactor, just in time for the 2000 PLASA trade show.
Lightfactor, a leading company in the supply of intelligent lighting, is looking to diversify, and with almost 20 yeas experience behind him, Paul is taking up this new challenge. It remains the primary source for High End equipment with the additions of leading brands like SGM, LDR and Light Processor. Coupled with the expansion of consumable products and audio equipment, Lightfactor is positioning itself for the future.
For many years Paul has been a vocal supporter of PLASA and two years ago stood for election to the Executive Committee. He is excited to be involved at a time when PLASA is continuing to establish itself as the leading trade association for the entertainment technology sector.
He is happily married and lives in north London with his wife Julia who he met at college, and their three children Emma (12) Thomas (10) and Hannah (8). His hobbies are cricket, monopoly, golf and more cricket, with the odd Mars bar and a banana in between. And our hero's only real claim to fame is that the only job he ever applied for was for a day-man technician at the Windmill Theatre (Paul Raymond Review). He didn't get it, because he was too young at 16. But as he says: "You have to try!"
Look out for the next subject in our Profile series...
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