Indie Filmmaking in Action: Pre Production – Week 2

Egor Povolotskiy the Director of Photography arrived here in the desert on Tuesday. We took the first 2 days with him and showed him the shoot locations as we did Burns and his crew the previous week. Egor, like David, knows exactly what he wants. He cares a lot about how the story is visually represented and it seems that he understands the bridge between creativity and execution that we have to cross in order to have a movie at the end of production.

Egor Povolotskiy, DP (Left) and David Wall, Director (Right) talk blocking for a scene.

One of the links between execution and creativity is determining how we’re going to handle shooting our night scenes. The script has a number of scenes that take place at night and figuring out where to place them in the shoot schedule can be a challenge when you’re trying to also give your crew 12 hour turnarounds.

(from Left to Right) Branden Cobb, Egor Povolotskiy, Jack Wall and David Wall walk through deep wash in consideration for shoot location.

An option we’ve been considering that could make the shoot schedule a little more navigable is shooting Day for Night. This technique does have a distinct look and if you don’t do it right it can look cheesy. A movie that recently did this very well was Mad Max: Fury Road. The Day for Night method that the creators of Fury Road implemented in the filming of the movie’s night scenes is the basis of the approach we’re considering for Gold Dust.

A rough example of the concept of Day for Night.

In order to make our decision we had to do some tests. We went to the desert and got footage around dusk, the time of day that is suggested you film to get the best results when shooting Day for Night.

Shooting Day for Night does have it’s Pros and Cons. The nice thing about shooting day for night is that is requires less powered light because you’re able to utilize the light of the sun. However, it does have a particular look and the time of day where the lighting is optimal for this technique lasts for about an hour, maybe an hour and a half (at least out in the desert).

Egor setting up the Alexa at one of the locations where we’ve got a night scene.
Director David Wall isn’t afraid to get dirty as we test how different practical light sources will play on camera when shooting Day for Night.

Shooting at night has it’s Pros and Cons as well. Shooting at night is nice because once you’ve setup, you’re lighting situation is constant because you don’t have any variance in natural light (ie. the sun). All of your light is powered and you can control how much or how little light you’re pumping into the scene. At the same time, shooting at night usually costs more because you require more powered lights and things generally move slower at night – so it can take longer.

Egor behind the camera as he shoots Day for Night test footage at dusk.

These are just some of the pros and cons we’re having to consider as we determine how we’re going to handle shooting our night scenes. For me, as 1st AD the final decision is very important because it directly effects our shoot schedule, and the shoot schedule determines what everyone is doing during production and when they are doing it. At this point in time I’m not at liberty to say what our decision was regarding day for night, but what I can say is that you’ll want to see it for yourself when Gold Dust is released. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Stefan Liner

East Stream Studio