Cinematography : Any advice for my no-budget filmmaking efforts in a mansion? by Scott Danzig

Scott Danzig

Any advice for my no-budget filmmaking efforts in a mansion?

I'm in pre-production for a short film I'm going to shoot in mid to late August. I managed to get permission to film in a mansion for three days, six hours each, and the main scene will be in the dining room, shown in the attached picture. 3 will be seated along the left, with the hostess appearing on the right.

There's light spill all over, but I figure I can do whatever establishing shot I want when the outdoor light darkens enough, and otherwise block out the light (duvetyne and closing curtains) and use daylight temperature lights instead (also turning off the overhead light. I figure that's easier than trying to attenuate the window light with an ND filter. I'm worried about trying to muck about under the drapery, and am not sure I'll have enough time for trial and error.

For lighting, I have a Rayzr 7 daylight, a Lowel DV creator 1 3-light kit, and color correction gels. My cinematographer and I, and a small crew, have some experience, but I'm sure this will be tricky for us. I'm pretty sure things won't go perfectly, but if any of you have useful tips that might make this go smoother, please tell me!

I might be able to experiment a little beforehand with the lighting on set, but I'm not sure.

Andrew Sobkovich

I waited for a couple of weeks in hopes that someone else would chime in. Oh well.

A few questions to narrow down the scope of your question.

What is the mood of your picture, what is the mood of this scene or is it more than 1 scene? From your description this is to be a Day Interior scene. Does it have to be?

What is the amount of light you are looking for in foot-candles or lux, or what camera, lens and camera settings you wish to use? Is the camera moving? You have 3 people seated on one side of the table and the other is at the head of the table or across from the 3 seated people or pacing? Are the 3 people always seated?

You have 4 lights, any grip equipment? What about foam core or reflectors? What bulbs do you have available for your lights? You mentioned gels, which do you have? Do you have bulbs that can fit the practical lamps in the house? Find the electrical panel and note the size breakers for each circuit. If the electrical panel is old and takes fuses, make sure to bring spares. What about filters for the camera?

What direction do the windows face? Are the windows readily accessible from the outside? Are all the windows covered with sheers? What about sound, are the floors hardwood, lots of echo?

What is your crew size and how many hours of shoot time per day do you need? How many script pages in total?

Rome Mubarak

I am attempting to do something similar with at least 12 shots done in an old Spanish Mediterranean home in Los Angeles. Any and all advice/discussion is welcome.

JD Hartman

What time of day the scene occurs in the script will determine how you treat the window and what color temp light (if any) comes through the window. Beyond this tidbit of advice, no budget stuff is usually more of a headache than it's worth.

Royce Allen Dudley

OK< time passed, how did it work out ?

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