How to make a stylish colored effect on a low budget movie ? (2 replies and 2 comments)
Dear Roger Deakins,
I'm a french cinema student, so I truly apologize for the English mistakes i'm about to make.
My team and I must make a movie for the end of our studies, we wrote a screenplay about cannibalism and we're thinking about the ways of using lights in a house. Particularly we would love to approach ourselves of the work that Peter Greenaway did on The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover but we are novices and have a really low budget.
Would you have some advice for us ?
Friendly, a french admirer,
Louis De Sousa.
Perhaps you should have said what your budget really is then we could have an understanding of what you need to complete your film project.
The film that you have listed is not that unusual in terms of lighting but it does contain scenes which use many coloured gels to emphasise the importance of the actions within the storyline. This treatment is standard practice in Theatre production but is uncommon to see it in a feature film about cannibalism, sex and debauchery. The film wasn’t a great sucess but it certainly raised eyebrows amongst critics but did accomplish what it set out to do, that is to make people go and see it.
I do suggest that you obtain some coloured gels if you want to imitate the film. Visit your local Theatre and ask them for some old gels or filters which they normally throw away. You may even be able to borrow some lights, perhaps trade your labour in exchange for a few favours. You will be surprised how helpful people can be when you explain what you are trying to do. Contact your local radio station and ask them to help you, even make an appeal for help.
Make the film your own and avoid copying every scene but that will depend on your script, the original film had some heavy weight ‘Shakespeare’ actors in it who were masters in their craft, they made it look easy but their skills and timing were second to none.
Work out why you are making this film and what you want it to say about your film making skills. How do you want the ‘Audience’ to remember it. So get your lighting right and if you have no money to spend then obtain the props and equipment by using your persuasion skills to get it, it is a team effort after all.
Let us know how you get on.
Thanks for your ideas Mike, for now I must say that we don't have any money really (maybe some equipment between us: 2 soft-box, 1 camera, 1 stabilizer), but I thought about doing one of those crowdfunding to maybe have 100/150 euros coming from our friends and families.
About the colored gels that's a nice way of doing, but I need to think how to get real lighting material that is, I guess, really essential for this kind of movie.
When we wrote the script we didn't think about this Greenaway's movie at all (I didn't know it until really recently to be frank) so our goal isn't to copy it, the cannibal thing is a pure coincidence. But the aesthetic of the movie really made me think about what we wanted to do, something really graphical, really colored, pushing the fantastic where we could.
Again, sorry for my English, but it feels really nice to practice it here.
Making a movie on a zero budget does sound impossible but it can happen.
If you are really happy with the script then I suggest you start preparing the storyboard. Once you have finalised the costings etc present the project to your family and friends to get their feedback. You will then know who is in the team and who is out. You do not want to take on any “Deadwood” at this stage as once the pace gathers speed, you have got to know who are the loyal helpers and are willing to stay with you all the way to the end. This is where reality sets in and when people get ‘cold’ feet! Begin shooting a small scene that doesn’t cost a lot of money, that way you can judge whether you’ve picked the right team or whether the project is worth persuing. You will know who are your ‘friends’ by now and whether to continue. Making a movie starts with a ‘dream’ but could end up a ‘nightmare’.
The true problem here is the fact that's a school project and the four other members of the team may not be as concerned as me. I have to be sure of myself doing those things, and in a way I can "only trust myself".
If we have no budget for this project we'll be forced to do with it, but in a way it will ruin what it must be, a fantastic movie with colors and other special effects going in the register (smoke, darkness, locations).
I guess starting by seeing what we can bring together us a good beginning !