Noir/Black and White (3 replies and 1 comment)
Dear Mr. Deakins
How would one go about lighting/camera angles while trying to mimic the classic noir style on a budget? Any advice would be fantastic.
I think it is true to say that the most highly regarded 'noir' films that came out of Hollywood were quite low budget. They were basically B movies.
One of my personal favorites is 'Kiss Me Deadly'. The lighting is brilliant because it is so simple, just one or two direct lamps creating crisp hard shadows.
Thank you very much.
You should study the 1949 film "The Black Book" aka "Reign of Terror." It's a thriller set during the French Revolution and shot as a film noir. The legendary John Alton used plenty of shadows and dramatic camerawork to not only convey a sinister atmosphere but to hide the cheap recycled sets.
Several years ago I shot an extremely low budget noir, and though I do have some regrets with regards to the lighting, all in all it was actually very rewarding, and I found it much easier to come up with low-budget solutions in B/W than in color.
Probably the most important decision was not to diffuse the light very often, neither with bounces nor filters. High contrast and sharp shadows worked well as a stylistic shorthand for our story and made for a smooth transition between our brightly sunlit exteriors and our night and interior scenes. Also, it meant that we were getting the most bang for our buck wattage-wise, which was handy since we couldn't afford a professional-grade G&E kit.
You can see some examples of what we came up with here, if you're curious: http://james-parsons-by6x.squarespace.com/new-gallery-5»