Jesse James dinner table (1 reply)

Connor McKinnon
4 weeks ago
Connor McKinnon 4 weeks ago

Hello Roger,

As a student cinematographer in South Africa, I am immensely grateful for your and James' continued dedication to this website. It is an invaluable resource to me and countless others. 

When I first watched Jesse James, I was in awe of the lighting you used in this particular night time dinner table scene. Scenes like this are common and when considering how to light them, my first instinct is a soft overhead light directly above the table. This usually gives me consistent lighting and allows me to move quickly, but I am rarely happy with the shape and contrast I get with this method. 

I'm curious about how you lit the scene because it feels like a soft-ish overhead source, but the light is focused very tightly on the actor's faces. I see a large amount of falloff from the face down to the torso. the background, too, is very dark.

I have made a couple of attempts at recreating this light but I have been unable to achieve the incredibly dramatic light that you have focused onto only their faces. 

Any help in understanding your approach here would be highly appreciated.
Roger Deakins
3 weeks ago
Roger Deakins 3 weeks ago

That scene was lit by a small overhead practical lamp that I had surrounded by a few household bulbs, probably 40 watt. I used a circle of blackwrap to control the light off the backgrounds.

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