30 Under 30: Sam Paine, Lighting Director

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.

Next on our list is lighting director, programmer, and designer Sam Paine, who has worked with artists such as Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, ZHU, and Third Eye Blind. "It has been amazing to see so many great friends and colleagues listed as a part of the 30 under 30 list," Paine says. "As someone who has often been the youngest in many positions, I truly appreciate what Live Design has done to highlight the hard-working, younger generation of our industry. I think it’s important to continue to inspire and teach those quickly coming up within the ranks, as this industry continues to evolve."

Looking for some inspiration? Get to know Sam Paine:


Name: Sam Paine

Age: 25

City, State of residence: Boston, MA / Los Angeles, CA

Position/title: Lighting director, programmer, and designer

Employer: Various including Earlybird Visual and Silent House Productions

Current project(s): Taylor Swift Reputation Tour 

Most notable achievements:

  • Taylor Swift Reputation Tour - Lighting director and operator (Current)
  • Kendrick Lamar The Damn. Tour - Lighting director and associate programmer (2017 - July 2018)
  • ZHU Neon City Tour - Lighting director (2016-2017)
  • Third Eye Blind Dopamine Tour - Lighting director and associate programmer (2015-2016)
  • Port Lighting Systems - Senior lighting designer and project manager (2012-2015)
  • Carnival Cruise Lines - Lighting and Special Effects technician (2012)

When I started in this industry: As early as 16, I started taking overhire calls for companies such as Opera Boston. From there, I have always preferred to learn by doing.

How I got into this industry: Growing up, I always found myself toying with technology. I had this small two channel audio mixer, that I loved playing around with. The same would be true for years to come with different pieces of technology.

Fast forward to high school, I found myself enrolling in the Drama program following a sports injury. At the same time, our theatre happened to be undergoing a lighting renovation as the 40-year-old Kleigl system was quickly fading. Over the next four years, I was allowed a large amount of freedom to discover my creativity and true interest in the production industry.

Influences: Cory FitzGerald of Silent House Productions; Eric Marchwinski and Kirk J Miller of Earlybird Visual; Todd Gerrish and the entire team from my time at Port Lighting Systems; Judy Hamer, Bob Lewis, and everyone at Nauset Regional High School; and always, my mother, Janice Paine.

Worst advice I’ve ever heard: “That’s Impossible.” Everything is possible.

Best advice I’ve ever heard: When I turned 14, I began working in what I thought would turn into a lifetime career, working in hospitality. A local chef passed on some of the greatest wisdom and career advice, that I have tried to apply every day.

“Always check your attitude at the door.”

  • With every job you take, put in everything you have, and then some. Learn everything you can, while always pushing the limit on what’s possible.
  • Once you feel you can no longer learn in a certain position, it is time to move on.
  • Never feel as if you have to ask for a raise. When you do, it’s time for a change.
  • Always know your audience.

My favorite thing about the production industry: The combination of people, creativity, technology, and art combined into one. This industry encompasses so many different types of skillsets. I am always fascinated to watch a show go up, day to day. Although it is so normal to us, it is still an impressive feat to be admired.

Favorite design/programming/technical trick: Communication…But in all reality, I fear that as technology grows, we tend to grow farther apart than closer together. A well-planned production includes clear lines of communication, whether it’s email, clear com, radio, text message, phone calls. The more we can be on the same page about the expected end result, the better off we all can be.

Programming-wise,  maintaining a clean, well-labeled, and organized showfile is key. It's always worth an extra few keystrokes, knowing you, or someone else, will inevitably have to look back at something.

Plans for the future: Continuing to learn, grow, and collaborate. Bringing different groups of people to support continued and varied forms of art.

Other interests/side gigs: Architecture, photography, and time spent wandering amongst nature.

Awards, honors: Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild (METG): Sound Design - Polaroid Stories 2009, Lighting Design - Dog See’s God 2011.

Other: I appreciate the opportunity to be considered for this list among a well-respected group of people in our industry. It has been a pleasure to grow into a world of people that are always looking to teach the younger generation. I think it is important that we are always conscious of each other, always willing to learn when it is time to learn, willing to teach when it is time to teach, and willing to collaborate, knowing that a mutual end result is always greater than individual.

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