‘Empire of Light’ – Stephen’s House

Posted on by

Home Forums Lighting ‘Empire of Light’ – Stephen’s House

  • Creator
  • #214923
    Max A.

      Hello Mr. Deakins and all the cinematographers over this forum! I hope you Mr. Deakins and Mrs. James are well, I saw on Instagram the pictures of your visit and masterclass on NFTS, I guess it was fantastic for all the people that were there.

      I would like to ask you, if it is possible and if this doesn’t bore you, some “lighting questions” about ‘Empire of Light’, maybe in different forum topics in order to avoid confusion and maybe be better found in the search tool in the future.

      In this first post, I would like to ask you, about your lighting for the Stephen’s House. The first time the house appears on screen, in the wide shot (I attached stills below) the house seems to have the ‘main light’ from the ceiling fixtures above the sofa.
      It is the only light that “lit” that space or there was something behind the fixture that ‘washed’ the curtains and the window?

      At first look, seems to me that the fixture (wisely chosen to be omnidirectional) is the only light in the space but later in the film, when the house appears again on screen (during a dinner – I attach stills) the same fixture seems to have less “power” in the environment and becoming a light for the background area rather than a “main light” (which this time is the one placed on the table).

      It was only a matter of balancing and dimming fixtures for the different scenes to ‘shape’ spaces according to the frames?

      The last question, which is maybe an advice request. When you read a script and notice that an environment (this case a small house) is present in the story more than once time and with different actions, how do you approach the arrangement of elements that are involved in the story and that should stay in the same position for all the scenes (in this case the sofa, the table but in some cases a lot of different spots) and than the practical lighting placement/position for the mood/look you are after in each scene and frames.

      As always I failed to be brief and concise, but as usual, I get excited to ask you so many things.
      I want to thank you in advance for your time and apologize for my bad English.

      I wish you a peaceful day.

    Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
    • Author
    • #214926
      Max A.

        It seems I can’t able to upload stills, I will retry tonight


          Have you tried emptying your ‘Cashe’. That can cause uploading issues.

          Max A.

            Hello Mike, just tried to clear the “cache” but nothing. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, I’m just hitting the image button and uploading pics but when I hit the “reply” button my reply doesn’t appear.

            maybe it needs to be verified by a moderator? When you post pics with the new version of the forum was the reply “immediate” or did you have to wait?

            Thank you,

            Roger Deakins

              First, the interior of Stephen’s flat was a set as the location we liked was too difficult to hold on to for the length of time we needed it. We shot a number of scenes in this set which did not end up in the final cut.

              The overhead was all that lit the wide when Stephen and his mother are watching television. For the dinner scene I wanted the foreground table light to be stronger in relation to the background, which was not important.

              I always work closely with the production designer as well as the set dresser to make sure the placement of the windows, light fixtures and furniture work for the scenes and for camera. It is particularly important to work with a set dresser to choose practical lamps. We probably looked at dozens of different possibilities before settling on the ones in picture.


                Max A,

                Posting pictures was immediate for me, sometimes there was a hesitation but most times it was immediate. Can be very frustrating when it doesn’t go right.

                Max A.

                  Thank you so much for your reply Mr. Deakins! It is always a fantastic gift to receive an answer from you!

                  Thank you, as well, for your advice to work very closely with the production design and set dressing, of course when the scale of the production allows me to do that.
                  In a “recent” project (a small budget feature that I shot last year) there were some issues with the set dressing (of course no set or studios were involved due to the limitation of the budget but only real locations) and I went to stores to buy some kind of fixtures that I had in mind for some spaces, it was not so easy cause it was my “second” experience for a feature, but it helped me to find the “right” kind of practicals for each space (unfortunately I couldn’t cover all the scenes).

                  Thank you again Mr. Deakins, In the next posts I will try to upload stills to make the post more complete and visually “direct”.

                  I wish you a peaceful Sunday,

                Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
                • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.