Natural & available light

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  • #214792

      The gist of it is this. I have finally received public funding to make a feature film in Malta, where I’m from. The funding is minimal, and I will altogether only have 100K to make a micro budget film. I really don’t want to miss out on an opportunity here to make an impression and tell an impactful story that travels further than our Maltese shores.

      So, coming from a minimalistic mindset, I think the best approach for the story and project is to film with natural light and practicals only (kinda like a Dogme 95 approach I guess). I will focus the rest of my very limited budget on casting good actors and focus on their delivery and story.

      My question is… since I am now in research mode, I would like to watch and study as many films as possible that have primarily used natural light and available light in their films. Can we start listing films, or can you name a few films that have primarily used natural light in their movies? Also please feel free to offer any advice.


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    • #214797
      Roger Deakins

        You might start by looking at the work of cinematographer Raoul Coutard.


          You may also want to look into the later films of Jean-Marc Vallée. On ‘Dallas Buyer’s Club’ he started to shoot with available light only, as he wanted to be able to shoot 360° on set. Afterwards he fell in love with this style of shooting ( how fast he could get things done and how freeing it was for his collaboration with the actors) and other movies followed. “Demolition” is another very nice example.

          I’m a huge fan of available light and it works great on drama, where authenticity is often more important than a nice looking image, but can also work for other genres. “Children of Men” used available light to a large portion (or all?), also Emmanuel Lubezki’s work on “Birdman” or “The Revenant” (only the camp fire scene is lit).

          Keep in mind though that on these set’s, the lighting basically takes place in pre-production and is within the set design. If you’re going to shoot on a micro budget, you may want to spend some time on changing/relocationg/adding practicals to your locations wherever you can.


            I meant to say lighting takes place during pre-production and production as in, you can already scout locations for favorable practicals, windows ect. You can also block towards natural light and/or rearrange practicals accordingly. I highly recommend hiring a set designer / art director even if you only have a micro budget (at these budgets crew members usually wear several hats).


              Also check locations how they look/feel during different times of day and schedule accordingly.


                Thank you! I will most certainly watch his films.


                  Just a quick question. Did you get the funding without a script?
                  Before any style comes the story. What story is and what you want to tell with it. Then you can plan how to tell it, a budget of 100k€ isn’t that low for an indie production in Europe, if you keep other expenses at minimum you don’t need to shoot it ala Dogma 95 because there is no money.

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