Today we meet with a true GearHead, Elisa Goad. Elisa has been in the production and lighting industry for as long as I can remember, from being a technical writer to now working directly for Disney’s World of Color. Today, we find out a bit more about her life and that it takes perseverance to be a woman in the LD industry.
Elisa quietly disclosed her favorite console was the MA 1, she said, “I know that’s blasphemy in today’s world but it was a trooper of a console and was perfect for EDM’ music 7 nights a week when I worked at Mannequins Dance Palace at Pleasure Island many moons ago. Some of my favorite shows where on small rigs for DJs that have been close to my heart. I ran lights for Avicii before he blew up and I also ran lights for an Afrojack show. Big rigs were like the ones at MDP and whenever I was honored, I would run lights for a Make a Wish foundation.”
Elisa told us that Disney has been very different for her over the time spent there…17 years to be exact. When she worked at Pleasure Island, she had different consoles and different music genres to light. Elisa went to Atlantic Dance Hall after Pleasure Island closed and focused on more conventions and wedding lighting. Now that she is at California adventure in California, she has had the pleasure to work on the World of Color at Disney and has picked up the new skill set of fixing fountains with LEDs.
Elisa outside work includes club rehabs and installs. Her favorite job was being electrical help on movie sets before she started working with Disney. She dreams of getting back on set but at this time she is focusing on family instead of running from location to location. Just like any good parent, Elisa has one more kid who is 14 that she is waiting to graduate high school and then she will be able to tour again. She says after the kids are gone, just like any parent asks, “who knows where I’ll be in 4 years, nothing is limited!”
Elisa’s career started with an offhanded comment from a retail coworker that she should just go work in movies because she can’t stop taking about them. So Elisa called the local theater and local PBS station with a request to volunteer and PBS called her back the next day. She learned how to run the big tube cameras, ENG style camera, lighting for television, floor manager for telethons, basic master control for on air programming, and basic audio. Elisa’s two years at WSRE were an open place to learn as much as she wanted. She then started to figure out how to track down movie locations. At that time Elisa lived in Pensacola and there was no Internet yet or cell phones (“at that time, only rich people had them and they were HUGE”, said Elisa). She was able to get on the set of ‘Under Siege’ as an extra – it was a new low budget movie being filmed in Mobile. Being the “go-getter” that she is, Elisa considered herself lucky enough to track the director down and got hired as a PA immediately. The movie was very short staffed so the gaffer asked her to start being with the electrics and that’s how she got into lighting at the age of 21. She said that, Under Siege got her into every movie after that because she was the one of the only female electrician in the south. This is 1991 we are taking about, she had to work faster, harder, and smarter than every guy on the crew, but it gave her the rep that kept her working for 4 years straight.
Elisa then took a break after Candyman 2 and worked on having her first child. She went back to TV and was the floor manager/ assistant producer of a morning show until she moved to Orlando in 99 to work at Walt Disney World’ s Pleasure Island. In addition to working for the mouse, she worked (still technically employed) at House of Blues, Best Productions, and multiple amounts of production companies. She opened, installed, ran, and hired all gear and lighting techs for the Beacham in downtown Orlando. She also wrote for Prolighting Space and their flagship magazine PLSN.
Elisa also got to jump back on set as an electrician for just a few days in 2010 on Transformers: Dark side of the Moon. Movies are Elisa’s real passion and the casting of movies is why she talked so much about film. Elisa also spent about 6 years (during her days, nightclubs are all nights) working for a great casting director in Orlando. This led to her being able to cast a few low budget movies herself so she has casting director credits. Now, she has landed in California and she did get to work on a short film with friends that has been doing great. It’s called Smiling Man and Elisa felt it was great to be on set again as an electrician. She is also currently rehabbing a club in long beach – Hamburger Mary’s. Elisa’s heart throughout her life has been in production and that is where it will stay. It takes a strong woman to move around in the industry but with an open mind and a strong heart…life can take you anywhere.