4 Tips To Achieve Great Lighting For Your Low Budget Film!

By Aditya Savnal. Posted on September 09, 2015

Filmmakers who are obsessed with the film look often find it tough to achieve the same. It's even tougher when you are shooting on a meagre budget. Filmmaker Neil Oseman faced a similar situation while making his fantasy feature Soul Searcher. Admirably, Neil not only shot and directed the film, but also edited and wrote the film besides doing hosts of other things, much like any indie filmmaker. And he managed to achieve all of this in a budget of just 20,000 US$.

Smaller budget didn't mean that Oseman compromised on the look of his film. Using smart lighting techniques he got the film look he wanted. In this video below, Oseman tells us how he achieved that.

These are the key things he talks about;

1) Modify The Three Point Lighting

Oseman played around with the three point lighting principle for lighting the film. For scenes which involved close ups of the protagonists, Oseman and his crew turned off the fill lights and brought the backlight closer. It not only made the scenes more effective but also proved to be economical.

2) Playing With The Key Light

You can play and change the key lighting positions of the camera depending on the tone of the scene. For a scene in which the characters are confronting each other, you can have the key lights focused on a particular side of the actors face. And for scenes that are of romantic nature, putting the key right next to the camera helps to crate a better impact.

3) Cross Backlighting

Similar to the 2 camera setup, this technique is best suited for scenes in which there is a dialogue taking place between 2 characters. For shooting such scenes, one can use 2 lamps to for shooting close ups.

4) Using The Right Colour And Its Combinations For Your Film

Using the right colours is an art and everyone filmmaker needs to accept and understand its importance. For Soul Surfer, Oseman primarily used the colours red and blue very smartly to shoot several scenes. For achieving the colour red, a gelled paper was placed on the camera. While the blue effect was achieved by making some adjustments to camera's white balance.

In the video, Oseman also tells us how playing with scientific principles of lighting helps to light your film effectively. It is indeed remarkable that Oseman achieved all of this in a modest budget. It also sends out a very positive message to Indie filmmakers that one can make a technically good film in a low budget.

Do check out Neil Oseman's YouTube channel that has an amazing compilation of videos that offer amazing tips on cinematography and low budget filmmaking.


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