ThomasMcNaught

When Alexandria initially contacted me regarding shooting her short film, she made it clear that, due to its student attributes, there would be little-to-no budget. The script interested me, and I’m no stranger to limited resources, so I accepted the job and we immediately made the decision to focus our attention on obtaining lighting, since I would be able to provide basic camera equipment myself.

At the time, my personal equipment consisted of:

I hadn’t had a reason to update my personal equipment for a while since I am typically on shoots where kit is provided, however it never hurts to grow your inventory for when projects like this emerge.

Firstly, I wanted to update my Canon lenses to the Samyang equivalents in order to gain the geared rings and smooth manual iris.

Having all of my lenses share a similar body type would then allow me to connect a follow focus system without having to fiddle around with adapters. I spent a while searching for a low-cost solution with an impressive build quality. The search was tedious; most products I found used flimsy plastic as their main material, and the mechanics were awkward to operate.

Eventually, I stumbled upon Fotga. I couldn’t find any official information for who they were, which was slightly concerning, but after receiving the items and trialling them for a few days, I was extremely satisfied.

I’m new to cinematography, and only recently learned of filters. In the past when my shot was over-exposed, I would stop down to reduce the amount of light entering the iris, which of course increased my depth of field and resulted in shots not matching.

I’ve been told that Tiffen manufacture the best ND filters, however the cost for a set is quite high, so I compromised and ordered a Tiffen 77mm Variable ND which mounts at the end of the lens -- a set of XCSOURCE Step-Up Rings was required for the 85mm because of its 72mm diameter -- however, I wasn’t totally impressed with its performance. Occasionally, it would heavily vignette one side of the image. It could be that I wasn’t using it correctly; perhaps they were teething troubles which can be overcome by practising with the filter.

Knowing the film ended with a car scene, I also purchased a Tiffen 77mm Polariser Filter which I found extremely beneficial for reducing reflections.

Alexandria referenced a lot of films which had a style similar to how she envisioned Greener Pastures, essentially boiling down to natural lighting with low contrast. After a recce and discussion with my gaffer, Alex Rigert-Harnden, we agreed to light via windows and doorways, with the hope of practicals if the location allowed, in order to provide Alexandria with the desired style she wanted to achieve.

The decision was to keep the windows visible in the composition and expose for the exterior, which I’d never done before. I started by getting a reading from outside for my f-stop, then lighting the subject until they were a matching exposure. Personally, I don’t think it was an effective way to go about the shot; the subject wasn’t quite as exposed as I would have liked.

Perhaps this could have been solved with more light inside, but having slightly more knowledge now, I would have preferred to gel the window with ND.

I’ve since purchased a wide selection of gels from Flashlight, a company based in Heywood, Manchester.

Collating kit from Met Film School; Procam, my regular supplier; and myself, our final kit list was:

  • Canon 5D Mark III
  • Samyang 35mm T1.5
  • Samyang 50mm T1.5
  • Samyang 85mm T1.5
  • Tiffen 77mm Variable ND Filter
  • Tiffen 77mm Polariser Filter
  • Vinten Vision 3AS Tripod System
  • Fotga DP500 II: Quick-Release 15mm Rod Rail Support System
  • Fotga DP500 III: Quick-Release Follow Focus System with Limiting Pins
  • Fotga DP500 III: Swing-Away Matte Box with 4x4 Filter Compatibility
  • SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB 160MB/s (x3)
  • Komputerbay 128GB 150MB/s (x3)
  • Transcend RDF8
  • Lexar LRW300U
  • ARRI 2K (x2)
  • ARRI 1K (x2)
  • Dedolight (x3)
  • 8’ x 4’ Polyboard
  • Flag Kit
  • C-Stands (x6)
  • 7kg Sandbags (x10)
  • Aputure VS-1 7" LCD Field Monitor
  • DTSE Sony NP-F970 Batteries (x6)
  • Ex-Pro Battery Chargers (x2)
  • LeiFire Dual Battery Charger (x2)

An 8x8 trace frame hired from Met Film School didn't arrive, which was a great inconvenience as I wasn't able to control the sunlight as much as I wanted to.


2018/01/13 12:00:00