‘The direction of this show was to honour key figures of the Underground Railroad freedom’
USA - Central City Productions recently premiered a new television series entitled Black History Honours. The four-part docuseries honoured heroes of the Underground Railroad and featured musical tributes from gospel music artists with a lighting system provided by Bandit Lites.
Don Jackson, founder of Central City Productions, shared: “The unique perspective of our Black History Honours series honours the lives and legacies of the Underground Railroad freedom activists. As well, in this post-covid season, where African American museums are struggling to maintain and increase attendance, our series underserves the fact that black history and black museums matter”.
Lighting designer Andre’ Petrus sought to create a lighting system that would complement the performances without becoming the focus points.
“The direction of this show was to honour key figures of the Underground Railroad freedom,” explained Petrus. “I wanted to create an environment that wasn’t ‘production forward.’ I wanted a light that would double as a set piece.”
The solution was the Portman Mantis, with its ability to be a multipart fixture in one and its warm and cool options.
“We really got a lot out of it,” said Petrus. “Circling the entire performance area with Xbar 20’s also helped. I love having a linear seamless option. There are countless looks you can achieve just by playing with dimmer curves.”
Bandit Lites supplied around 90 fixtures for the event, including the Portman Mantis, GLP X4 Bar 20, Ayrton Ghiblis and GLP JDC1 LED Strobes for versatility.
“Having a light that can serve multiple purposes is key when it comes to television, small space, and a limited budget,” Petrus shared. “I worked close with the director Michael Johnson on camera shots to fully encompass the lighting moments, and honestly, the show turned into something really nice.”
Bandit’s crew included Andy Knighton, Andrew Ellis and Sam Morgan. Don Lockridge provided additional support as the project manager.
“I always enjoy seeing what Andre’ comes up with when he brings us a design and this time was no different,” said Bandit Lites vice president Mike Golden. “His use of an array of Portman Mantis in conjunction with JDC strobes and XBar 20s resulted in a classic look. Additionally, I always look forward to each time we are able to collaborate with our old friends Michael Johnson and Jennifer Jackson at Central City Productions; they are always a pleasure to work with.”
“I’m thankful for Bandit,” finished Petrus. “I hit them up for a handful of shows throughout the year; a lot of those projects are at the very last minute. Their prep is second to none and they always knock it out of the park.”

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