A cinematographer should always be looking for ways to enhance the story through camerawork and lighting. 18 months ago I lensed a short film called 3 Blind Mice, which sadly seems permanently mired in no-budget postproduction hell. It comprises a trio of vignettes linked by a common theme. Each vignette featured two characters: one real, one supernatural or imaginary. In preproduction, director KT Roberts told me that she wanted the unreal characters to look somehow artificial, so I decided to give these characters each a perfect halo of backlight, whilst simultaneously eliminating all shadows on their faces. By contrast, the real characters would have no backlight and a grittier look to their faces with light and shade.
The first vignette to go before the camera was an interior scene, so we sat the unreal character (Charlotte Quinney, above right) in front of the window for backlight, and used a 4 bank 4ft kinoflo and a collapsible reflector to evenly light her face. The natural daylight was reinforced by a 1.2K HMI outside the window, gelled pink to match the colour scheme of the set dressing and suggest sunset. The real character (Libby Stewart Power, above left) was strongly lit from the right side by the “daylight”, with only a low level of fill from the reflector off left.
The other two vignettes were daylight exteriors. In both cases the 1.2K was used to halo the unreal character, with a reflector and silver foamcore used to fill in their faces (Will Attenborough, above right – third vignette). The 1.2K was used again when shooting the real characters, this time bouncing it off the reflector onto one side of their face. In the case of the final vignette, the other side of the real character’s face (Jack Mosedale, above left) was filled in by natural light, so we brought in a black drape hung from a flag arm as negative fill to combat this.
How have you used lighting to help tell your stories?