I thought I'd take a minute to talk about the Tilt spot I recently shot for Director, Jeff McCarthy of King Manatee. It was a fun shoot to say the least. It's hard to not have a good time shooting people partying. The aim of this spot was to keep it fresh and young, as it was geared towards a college aged audience. The challenge here was doing all this on a limited budget and a small time. I think my crew and I did a good job getting this accomplished. We knew we had to get a lot of shots off to make this party seem huge. We didn't have a giant lighting package, or a ton of background talent, and on top of this we had a tight schedule. So to get the maximum amount of coverage, my crew and I went with mantra I usually subscribe to of KISS… KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. Basically this means don’t overcomplicate things.
Most of our lighting setups consisted of one well-placed light source. I often use large book lights inside, but for this time around I used a lot of direct lighting from outside windows. We tried to keep everything down to one or two sources. Most setups used an M18 through a window with multiple soft cuts to make the most of one light. For instance I would cut the light with two to three 4x4 frames of diffusion. Often a frame of full grid would be introduced for faces, cutting off at the body; an additional frame of opal would be floated in to help slightly soften direct light. Occasionally I’d introduce a 44 Kino wrapped in Lt. Grid to add some additional wrapped fill on faces, then introduce negative fill opposite of key. It was a good strategy to light with a single broad source almost completely from outside our shooting space. Not only did this keep us fast, it also kept our set clear of the normal forest of stands and flags littering the space. This allowed us to move quickly and freely throughout the set. We could easily reframe and move our limited amount of background talent around quickly to fill our frame, without having to move a ton of stands. The added benefit came in the form of heat savings. We were shooting in the middle of a heat wave in the Valley, with 20 background talent; it was nice knowing we were adding to the heat by having a bunch of hot lights on the set.
Overall we had a fun and mellow time on set. My gaffer, Mike DiRicco, and enjoyed trying to adhere to this simplified process, while still keeping up our usual standards. We’ll definitely use this strategy more in the future. It’s nice to change things up occasionally when you get stuck in a “normal” way of doing things. It keeps you on your toes.