30 Under 30: Michael Dodge, Product Specialist


In celebration of LDI’s 30th anniversary—1988-2018—Live Design gives a shout out to 30 Under 30: thirty young movers and shakers who are changing paradigms, looking at things from new angles, and rapidly rising to the forefront of their field. From scenic, lighting, projection, and costume designers to technicians and programmers, as well as those who work for manufacturers, production companies, or rental shops, our 30 Under 30 are the harbingers of tomorrow.

Michael Dodge is a product specialist for Lighting and Network Systems at PRG. He works with designers, technicians, engineers, and students in the creation, training, operations, and advancement of PRG luminaires, Series 400 Power/Data Systems, Fiber Optic Networks, and the GroundControl Followspot System.

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Name: Michael Dodge

Age: 26

City, State of residence: Little Falls, NJ

Position/title: Product Specialist

Employer (if not freelance): Production Resource Group

Current project(s): Fiber Optic Operations Standards, GroundControl Systems Training, New

Fixture R&D (SuperRay), Assisting with the PRG Intern Program, LDI booth, USITT booth.

Most notable achievements:

Best New Product and Engineering Emmy Award-winning, GroundControl™ - Product Development Team

The Marvel Experience - Show Systems Engineer

When I started in this industry: In second grade. I produced a neighborhood talent show after my mother gifted me a Radio Shack Karaoke machine.

How I got into this industry: The support and encouragement from neighbors, friends, family, educators, and fellow artists. My directors Karen Rugerio, Shane Kelly, and Norman Coates gave me the freedom to explore and grow my passion.

I first found myself in front of the limelight, not behind it. I was in youth choir and quickly became far more interested in playing the CD deck rather than actually singing. Once realizing my “tech” passion, starting in TV production evolving to the exciting world of theatre, I inevitably pushed the limits and landed in what I casually call “rouge” event production.

I interned at PRG Orlando, Los Angeles, and Secaucus during summers while also attending DePaul University and then University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Creating and maintaining a healthy relationship with my newfound friends at PRG helped me get into the industry professionally.

Influences: Chris Conti is my most significant influence professionally. (Most would find that deeply concerning!!) While our personalities are rather different, he is one of the kindest, funniest, and most intelligent guys I know. Being introduced to the professional industry alongside him has been an incredibly rewarding four years; and I hope to have many more.

Worst advice I’ve ever heard: “Well, that’s how we’ve always done it.”

The best advice I’ve ever heard: KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).

Ironically. I shouldn’t even explain but…

The tools at our disposal have become incredibly powerful and customizable for the extensive needs of today’s projects. This advancement has supported some incredible productions but has also added a new layer of complications for the technicians on the ground. However, just because all of these tools and configurations are available, doesn’t mean they are always appropriate for every show. While engineering these systems, we must keep in mind all those that will be loading it in and out, troubleshooting it, and possibly even making last minute changes. No one cares how advanced something is if the technicians responsible for making it happen can’t.

My favorite thing about the production industry: Our people. God, we’re a strange bunch, but a bunch I’m proud to be a part of.

Favorite design/programming/technical trick: If the fibers are clean, you’ll get data indeed!

Plans for the future: We are in an incredible time in this industry. As many of these readers know, PRG is going through some exciting changes right now; changes that highlight the reality of a shift in how this industry works. Particularly in the relationship between the designers, production, equipment, and how they need to work together rather than separate from each other.

I love PRG, the culture they strive for, and the tools Jere Harris has set in place to benefit the art we support in creating. We don’t just provide equipment, we provide solutions; doing everything physically possible to make sure the show goes as conceptualized. That being the foundation of how we operate is an incredible way to work with these productions. I am lucky to be able to support and advance technology with an incredible group of designers, technicians, and artists. I plan to continue supporting this group to see how far we can go.

Other interests/side gigs: Food. I love playing with ingredients in my kitchen but I also really love when someone else creates it. A solid dinner service is as rejuvenating for me as a day at the spa. One of my favorite late-night NYC spots is Blue Ribbon Brasserie.

You’ll also definitely find me dancing around the office/showsite.

My main read while traveling is Harvard Business Review. It's incredible to see the connections this industry can have with some of the top companies of the world.

Awards, honors: Engineering Emmy Award, PRG GroundControl™, Product Development Team; 1st place Pinewood Derby.

Organizations, memberships: IATSE Local 635, USITT (PRG)

Website if applicable: http://bit.ly/mdodge_prg

Check out Live Design/LDI's other 30 Under 30:

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