Film photography is obviously one of the most important and biggest aspects of the filmmaking process. When you are hiring your crew for a film you can get a lot of great people to help you out, but the one team of people you really want to get the best out of is your director of photography and their team. Usually a DP will have their own camera and equipment, sometimes in a large truck called a grip truck, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Renting a fully equipped grip truck is a lot simpler than most people would think, and it won’t necessarily ruin your budget on a low-budget independent film.
But no matter what the photography, or the lighting of a film is one of the most intricate parts of making a film look professional and better than any type of home video. The DP’s team will include a group of gaffers and grips, and sometimes a best boy or other electrical workers. There is a ton of electricity going on when it comes to the professional lighting equipments, and you definitely need to plan accordingly with things like generators, a set of long extension cords, a set of C-stands and diffusers to help make everything work smoothly. Usually a grip truck will have all of these things ready to go, but that’s just the beginning. What’s really important is knowing exactly how to get your film photography to be the very best that it can be, and that’s an art in itself that some of the best filmmakers have mastered over the years.
A film’s photography can make or break a scene and entire movie. You can use your lighting to set the mood of a scene and in a way set the tone for a whole film and the reaction that an audience will have to certain shots. It can change dramatically from one shot to the next, and that’s why film photography is probably the most time consuming part of the whole process. It’s one thing to have the actors and camera ready to go and then just do it, which can sometimes be the case, but when you’re setting up a really intricate amount of lighting and re-setting it up for each shot, then you’re going to be doing about five set-up shots per hour. It’s really always that time consuming, especially with the big production lights.
One aspect of film photography that I’d like to discuss that not enough early filmmakers take into consideration is lighting exterior day shots so that you don’t get a bright flare on people’s faces. This can be really difficult, especially in the sunny days that California generally has, but it’s definitely important if you want to get a nice diffused look that seems to be more agreeable to an audience’s eye.
All you have to do is diffuse the light of the sun, easy right? Not so much, but if you have the proper equipment you can do this, if you don’t you can try to figure out an easier way. Even a small, round diffuser lifted up on a C-Stand to be exactly in front of the sun’s rays can make a difference, just watch your shadows!!