Cinematography, budgets and locations

Theory and reality, how different they are! During the first presentation, I promised a lot because it was a dream, it was all theory and creativity. But as always I was struck with reality with the cost of creativity. No matter that you get all the equipment from uni, you won’t get everything you want – boiling down to as simple as having the right gels to put on the lights or the particular lense you wanted or the ND filter you love so much. Then there is locations, no budget equals not much choice with locations. And of course, when you don’t pay your crew and actors, you work on days everyone can make it on the set, which means there isn’t a choice, rain or hail, you’re shooting on a day chosen for you.

Who can afford costumes? Work with what you have. Oooh, no one has blue eye shadow – work with what you have. And just like that compromises are made with the vision, the creativity you had spent weeks dreaming of.

In my presentation I spoke of three things – Using natural lighting to create beautiful halo like effects and use the camera to set the right balances and look. I wanted to shoot half the video with a tungsten white balance and the rest, warmer. Then I spoke about the blue to red arc, to flow with the healing theme we had using gels, lighting, white balance and of course grades in editing. Keeping the same idea in mind, I mixed it with the third point I made, about production design, make up and wardrobe.

On a fine sunny day, in rolled Alex to my house, to take me to see the agreed upon locations that I would have to work with. There was my house for one video and the surrounding park, gym and street. Now these locations all had an abundance of natural light and I was pretty excited and confident about them. Then we went to his house and the park near there. The first park we decided was sloped and shadows might irritate us, so we went to another park which was perfect. Now the main problem came to be Alex’s house. No natural light what so ever. As beautiful as his house was, I knew we needed not one but tons of light to make it look like the way I had pictured it.

I asked him to borrow 2 LED panels and 1 dido kit. The dido kit was for safety, but we ended up using it a lot, so thank god for contingency planning. We were also lucky, because for some scenes the three didos and the 2 panels were just not enough, we also used the few lamps Alex has lying around and they were the best! So good rule to have here I learnt, always have more than you think you need and always think of the ways you can use items you have lying around. Lamps go a long way, but you could also bounce light of a mirror or a television screen!

This brings me to the next problem. The days we were shooting at Alex’s place, it stormed and stormed. Storm = Rain and Wind = No natural light = Fuck my life! We managed, we got beautiful shots, I am very happy with what we could do. When the first day started, I was absolutely drowning, but Alex’s friend – Harrison stood by me, teaching me more tricks than I could remember and together we pulled it off!

The wardrobes of all team members were mixed, enough blues and reds turned up and this wasn’t as hard as anticipated earlier. I had asked everyone to message me photos of theie wardrobes and hadn’t gotten any till the day before shoot when people were like OOPS, No reds love! But a beautiful team comes together and makes sure everyone’s vision is seen through and our team was the most wonderful!

My Lesson: Don’t be put down by budgets and locations and stuff, just power on and keep looking for ways around everything. Nothing in the world can really stop you from achieving your vision!



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