How to Light How to be Dead

In September I had the pleasure of working once again with Lara Greenway – star of Soul Searcher, director of Hostile and The Runner, and producer of Hard Boiled Sweets and Danny Dyer vehicle Deviation. This time she was directing a pilot for a comedy web series called How to be Dead, written by Dave Turner. It was released online for Halloween and here it is:

The pub scene is my favourite thing I’ve lit in a long time, so I thought I’d break down what went into it.

The aim was to separate the lead actors from the background as much as possible. This was accomplished through depth of field (shooting at around f2.0), colour contrast (lighting them warmly and the background coolly), backlight and smoke.

Working from the foreground of the shot backwards, we have a crossed pair of Dedos behind camera, each with a half orange gel and each spotted on one of the leads. Hanging from a pair of connected C-stand arms straddling two of the pub’s wooden roof beams is an 800W Arrilite giving the leads a white backlight.

There’s a fireplace off camera to the left (in the master shot). To give the impression of it being lit, I put a reflector in it – gold side facing out – and aimed a 1K Arrilite at this reflector. My trusty gaffer Col wobbles the reflector during takes to create a flickering effect which is visible on some of the closer extras in the left of the frame.

A third Dedo, positioned near the fireplace, is trained on the skeleton hanging in the background.

Outside in the tiny beer garden is a 2.5K HMI that’s blasting through the patio doors. A blue-gelled 1K Arrilite, indoors but in the far background, adds further “moonlight”. Between them these two lamps are illuminating the copious amounts of smoke we pumped in, giving the whole scene a wonderful volume and depth.

Finally, in the far background on the left, there’s a fourth Dedo hidden in the entrance to the ladies’ loo, throwing a little pool of light on a painting on the wall. I also turned on the pub’s existing sconces to create extra contrast.

Hopefully there will be much more of How to be Dead coming soon. Visit and follow Death himself on Twitter.

And if you’re in the Worcestershire area this weekend, don’t forget to come along to the film festival at The Hive where I’ll be screening Video8 and giving a talk about crowd-funding Stop/Eject.

How to Light How to be Dead