264MC Short Film – Reflection

P.S I Stole Your Car

Steve Dawkins states [i]“Drama is a short piece of moving image which comprises a mixture of video, animation or stills”. When creating a short film it is important to produce it close to industry standard production values, whilst following essential factors, which are:

  • Ideas and the research process
  • Planning and management
  • Process and equipment
  • Refection

I decided to take up the role of the Gaffer because I felt confident that I understood how to achieve specific looks with lights, however, I had not solely controlled the lighting on a production before, so I researched the skill sets in which the Gaffer needed and how to efficiently conduct the role. Creativeskillset.org lists the specific skills in which the Gaffer needs, as well as detailing what they actually do. The most important role I saw was [ii]“Gaffers help to select the best lights and equipment”. The lighting is deemed as one of the most important features of a production. In his book about Cinematography, Brown states, [iii]“there are few elements that are as effective and as powerful as light.” There is no ‘correct’ way to light a scene, meaning that ‘good lighting techniques’ cannot be construed to a simple list. Brown also states, that in order to correctly light a scene we must [iv]“identify what it is we want the lighting to do for us”. With this being said, I revised the script and noted the key elements, such as the colours and mood of the script to identify how the film needed to be lighted.

After receiving the storyboard, I made notes on how the scene should be lighted and what lights would be used. In order to do this I researched what lights we had access to in the Media Loan Shop and researched the equipment through videos on [v]YouTube. I felt that the lights best suited for our production were the ARRI L5/ LoCaster LED Kit. This lighting kit was best suited for our production as it provided a Key light and two LED panels; as well as this I brought the 13.5×8 cm LED panels as back up lights. The lights were also the best suited for our production as they have 6 different presets of colour temperatures, from daylight to 2800 kelvins. I felt that this was really useful as in a rehearsal of the bedroom scene during our Setiquette workshop; I found that trying to create a “sunset spill” in the room with the Mosaic LED panels was difficult to create the evening glow in the room as the lights were not warm enough. P.s-i-stole-your-car-first-story-board:lighting

Working in a professional manner and environment, it allowed me to understand the importance of each role on a production and what it requires. In previous productions, the Cinematographer, Camera Operator and Gaffer were one person, however working in a team of ten made me aware of the difficulties of trying to conduct all the roles by yourself. On set, I worked closely with the Cinematographer to achieve the desired lighting for each scene. Most of our locations were in doors so the use of artificial lights was important. I aimed to use the Three Point Lighting technique for most of the scenes, mostly using the ARRI panels as fill lights to and the L5 light as a key light. However in some day light scenes, natural lighting was the main source of light, for example, the café scene were the actors sit by a large window, I used the ARRI panels as fill lights on the actors faces, to reduce the harsh shadow.

When lighting these scenes I also made sure I kept a note of the settings on the lights, such as the CCT (colour temperature), DIM and the GN (saturation). Moreover, we had to improvise on lighting two scenes in the café, which were the tracking shot of Sean from the bathroom and the conversation between Peter, Sean and the Mark. To light these scenes, I used two small LED panels which were hand held and followed closely behind the camera as we couldn’t mount the lights to the camera and as the camera was tracking the actor in a narrow corridor, we could not set up the lights in a location where it would be out of shot. In the next scene we also had the issue of not being able to set up lights on a tripod because the camera was constantly moving and was close to the actors faces, which would leave a shadow. To resolve this, hand held the small LED panels and moved with the camera to highlight the actors’ faces and fill the shadows.

I am really pleased with the production of PS I Stole Your Car. We received great feedback from the presentation of our rough cut and were praised for our cinematography. Conducting the role of the Gaffer opened my eyes to how important lighting in a film; comparing the shots with and without lighting made me realise that paying less attention to it in previous productions was the reason for a lack of quality. As well as this, working in the form of a hierarchy also made the production run smoother as there wasn’t a chance for heavy conflict in opinions because the decisions were all role specific. Pre-production also proved to be a factor for the success of this production as extensive planning was put together to ensure that our shooting days ran smoothly.

As a team we discussed how our film will be distributed. With many of the short films studied by our team being entered and even winning in film festivals, we felt that this was a strong platform to showcase our work. In order to enter our film in to festivals we will have to create an EPK (Electronic Press Kit), which is [vi]”a digital collection of media resources used to promote your film and a submission requirement for most film festivals”, stated by Daley. However, our chances of showcasing our work is slim as we didn’t develop a good marketing/distribution plan before the production which means that we will have to find festivals that fit our requirements rather than making a production for a specific target market.

[i] Dawkins, S. and Wynd, I. (2010). Video production. 1st ed.

[ii] Creativeskillset.org. (2017). Gaffer | Film | Creative Skillset. [Online] Available at: http://creativeskillset.org/job_roles/3793_gaffer_film [Accessed 25 Mar. 2017].

[iii] Brown, B (2016) Cinematography: Theory and Practice:  for Cinematographers and Directors . 3rd ed.

 [iv] Brown, B. (2012). Motion Picture and Video Lighting. 2nd ed. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

 [v] YouTube. (2017). Bill Holshevnikoff on the ARRI LoCaster LED. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kF_WZBmAbQI [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].

[vi] Daley, A. (2014). The EPK, Epk Breakdown Details. 1st ed. [ebook] Available at: https://www.scribd.com/document/220938138/Epk-Breakdown-Details-Read-Me-First [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].


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