Makeshift Lighting Grid

Keeping lights – especially their stands – out of shot can be a real challenge in some locations. If you’re filming in an office or other type of commercial building, you probably won’t be allowed to screw into the walls or ceilings – but there is another way to hang lamps.

If your location has a false ceiling, the kind where polystyrene tiles sit on a metal grid, you can pop some of the tiles out and use heavy duty wire to attach lamps to the metal. I’ve done this on two shoots now, most recently Get It On for Catcher Media, where we had a tight schedule and the director wanted lots of roving handheld shots.┬áCol very kindly lent us his DIY work-lights, which are ideal for this sort of thing because they’re not too heavy.

The ceiling of our Get It On location - a kitchen in the Performance Hub of Wolverhampton University
The ceiling of our Get It On location – a kitchen in the Performance Hub of Wolverhampton University

I’d advise you to run separate┬ácables from each lamp to whatever point in the room is least likely to be seen on camera, and from there down to a power socket. Make sure you can unplug any given lamp without having to get up on a ladder, because that will slow down shooting.

When you wrap, just untie the wire, unplug the extensions, slide the tiles back into place and no-one will ever know you were there.

Diffuser and a flag (the latter just fell down) hang from gaffer tape between the lights
Diffuser and a flag (the latter just fell down) hang from gaffer tape between the lights
Makeshift Lighting Grid