Film photography is one the best aspects of filmmaking, and as a photographer and videographer of multiple documentaries, short and feature films I can personally attest to you that film photography is definitely the most stressful ways to have the most fun you’ve ever had in your life.
There’s a strong sense of accomplishment that you get after a day’s work on a film set, partly because you’ve most likely been on your feet non-stop for about 12 hours, and partly because it went by so fast that you were scrambling to get everything done in time and in the proper way.
Every film has a budget, and it’s not necessarily all about the allocation of money, because when it comes down to it the most important resource on a film set is time because it’s the one thing that you can’t get back. A really great filmmaker once told me that and it’s stuck with me throughout my career, and time and time again when I’m sets I see people either using their time wisely or not using their time wisely enough, and it can be a huge part, if not the biggest part of the workflow of a film and the overall final result.
When it comes to film photography using your time wisely can not be stressed enough, simply because setting up the lights for each and every shot in a scene can be very time consuming. It’s important to get your key, fill and back lights in the perfect spot for each shot, and that’s not including a moving shot. When the subject moves, your light moves, and depending on the film you might need to keep that light consistent throughout a long take.
It may not necessarily need such intricate measure to be taken, but let’s take for instance a steadicam shot of two people walking on a sidewalk down a street. You can have a good amount of light hitting your two subjects at a certain part of the street, but if the shot takes the two characters down a dark alley or underneath a bridge you might completely lose all of your lighting and the lighting won’t match up at all in the camera. So what you would have to do before hand is set your camera at a certain aperture/settings and then do the full rehearsal shot in the daylight and then into the dark alleyway or under the bridge and then set up the lights so that the camera doesn’t have to make any adjustments and the characters are still properly lit.
That’s a lot easier said than done, especially if this dark alleyway or bridge is in public and you only have a certain amount of time to use it in your film’s budget. It’s a logistical matter, like all parts of filmmaking, but when it comes down to it when you get that great shot and it looks great, it’s really satisfying. It’s an adrenaline rush that not many other types of work can provide.