The Michael Northen Award


So, what are we looking for? (The Michael Northen Award for Lighting Design only)

-       Process: We’re looking to see YOUR process from initial conception of ideas and how that did or didn’t materialise in the final product. How you collaborated with your director / designer / rest of the team. How you communicated your ideas to them. Did you encounter any problems along the way? If so, how did you discuss them / solve them / get rid of them.

-       Research: We understand not everybody researches their shows in the same way – and that’s okay! Whether you do purely visual research or you like to visit a location; we want to know about it!

-       Originality: Whilst we appreciate that it’s hard to find ideas that haven’t been done before (knowingly or otherwise!), we are looking to see that what you use is appropriate to the piece and demonstrates your particular style and approach to work – not somebody else’s from years gone by!

-       Overall Visual: Nobody can argue that the best way to judge a lighting design is by the overall look! We’re looking for high quality, appropriate choices of colour, angle, intensity, lantern choice, contrast and texture!

What should you include?

1)    High Quality Portfolio

This should be the kind of document you’d be willing to take to a meeting with a director or producer to secure work. It should be based around two to four productions that were realised within the last 3 calendar years. You should include up to six images per production – no more! It goes without saying that this portfolio should demonstrate your imaginative and creative approach to lighting design. Note that all your photos should be in full colour and from an appropriate angle that the audience would have seen.

Ideally, you would have somebody else taking production shots for you – however, we understand this isn’t always possible. Just make sure that the photos you submit accurately represent your work!

Some points of advice:

o   Make sure your photos aren’t all close-ups

o   Be sure to make your portfolio easy to read

o   Clear and concise is the best way!

o   Remember to afford everyone the proper credits

o   Think of this in the way you would a website – show us the work that you think best defines your style and process!

2)    Research

Alongside images of the finished work, you should include your visual inspiration: e.g. images, mood boards, excerpts from poems & novels, story boards, art and/or any web links you found useful.

These are the kind of things you used to explain your design concept to the director and other collaborators.

3)    Cue Synopsis

We’re looking for a clear, well laid out cue sheet that depicts your thoughts and ideas. Something you would use to plot your show from.

You might also include extracts showing the development of your cue structure. Again, we want quality over quantity. We’re particularly interested in the progression and development from your initial pre-plot cue sheet to the finished sheet at the end of the production period.

4)    Plans & Paperwork

You should include a rig plan for each production – clearly labelled with a legend. It is important that these plans, where appropriate, are drawn to scale and conform to standard industry drafting practices. It is acceptable to submit these as individual PDF documents  with your main portfolio document providing they are clearly labelled with the show and are referenced where appropriate. Consider providing additional schematics (sections, front elevations, etc) or paperwork you produced during your process (followspot cue sheets, etc). All of which must be referred to where appropriate.

5)    Process Explanation

You will also need to include a page of writing or audio commentary, of no more than 1000 words or no longer than 2 minutes, outlining your approach to design decisions.

This should be a summary of the main challenges from each production, however, you should aim to let your pictures do most of the work – lighting design is, of course, a visual art form.

Perhaps consider splitting up your word count in order to surround your production images / research with the appropriate text telling us what we’re looking at and why it’s relevant.

6)    Video Footage (Optional)

Video footage of the productions submitted, specific moments within the production, or inspirational footage may also be submitted, to refer to and discuss in order to support your entry. Perhaps you have a very tricky-to-cue musical number which would be well reflected in a short video – or maybe you have a brief moment filmed that the photographer missed.

7)    CV (Essential)

Please include an up-to-date copy of your CV. Be sure that you include the following items as part of the document:

-       Your full name

-       Your education establishment (current or past)

-       The date you graduated (if applicable)

-       Your contact details (including personal email address and phone number to a number with a voicemail service)

-       Appropriate credits (producers/venues/directors/designers)


-       It’s about ease of reading. Please remember that we receive a high level of submissions every year and you want your judges to enjoy looking at your work – not spend hours clicking on lots of different documents. Perhaps consider your portfolio and research as one document, plans as another, etc.


We suggest submitting your portfolio as a PDF document. This single document may include the required supporting documents within the portfolio or may reference the required additional documents which have been submitted as separate files. 

Only PDF, JPEG, MPEG Files will be considered for supporting documents.

Alternatively, you may wish to submit your entry in a different format, such as a video portfolio with a voice over discussing your work.

Your entry can be compressed into any recognised file format, but must be stored online utilising your own storage (via Dropbox, WeTransfer, etc), and must be made accessible to all (so the judges can access it)  via an email link which will not expire.

Please save all your documents with the following formats:

Documents:  Your Name – Document Title – ALPD Award 2023

(e.g John Smith – LX Plan – The Cherry Orchard – ALPD Awards 2024).

Email Subject: Your Name – ALPD Awards Submission 2024 .

Within your email, please include your name and contact details as well as the above link to your items. This should be sent to:

Confirmation of your submission will be made when all the documents have been accessed and downloaded successfully prior to the deadline.

Finally, remember to credit the appropriate members of the team on the shows within your documents (Production Photographer, Director, Designers, Choreographers, Sound Designers, Etc).

Final Advice:

If you have any further questions or require any help and/or advice creating your digital portfolio, please don’t hesitate to get in contact via the email address.

There is also both the “Student ALPD” and “ALPD” Facebook pages which are filled with both young and long-established professionals who will all be able to help with ideas and/or suggestions for your entry.

It is imperative that all submissions strictly conform to the regulations set out above. The judging panel aim to provide feedback on all submissions where possible with a view for unsuccessful applicants to develop your portfolios for future professional use, as well as re-submitting the following year.

Please note that by submitting to the competition, you accept that all relevant personal and contact information may be made accessible to the organisers, The Association for Lighting Production and Design executive and where applicable, the judging panel. This extends to all future press releases and media produced in response to the Michael Northen Awards 2024.

Good Luck!