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Need all the help I can get: Lighting a Transsexual's face


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#1 Steven C. Boone

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 08:40 AM

I'm shooting a short film starring a pre-op transsexual actress. She is very pretty, shapely and feminine, but my intention, for the sake of the story, is to photograph her to appear as convincingly female as possible. Whenever her eyes are level with the lens, they sparkle and take over the scene. Perfect. But when her eyes are downcast, her broad, prominent forehead and slightly aggressive jawline suddenly steal the show. The illusion is gone.

I've already been testing angles and lighting during rehearsals. Got a bunch of muslin and diffusion, for starters. But I don't want a heavily augmented look. Shooting 24PA on the DVX-100A. Mostly extreme long lenses and interiors (day & night).

Don't want to rely on heavy makeup. Her skin is generally smooth, but the nose and cheekbones can look pretty severe in 3/4 profile under bright light.

"Chungking Express" would be a model for the look of this film, but my actress needs to be as enticing as the women in "In the Mood for Love"/"2046" for this thing to work. Too ambitious?

Any tips/sugestions would be greatly appreciated. I'm shooting in two weeks.
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#2 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 10:42 AM

Maybe look at Owen Roizman's work on "Tootsie", where he helped even Dustin Hoffman look like a woman? Likewise, other films depicting men successfully "passing" as women might be good starting points, e.g., "Triple Echo". Some transsexuals actually have "facial feminization surgery" as part of their transition process:

http://beginninglife.com/FFS.htm
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#3 Tim J Durham

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 11:01 AM

Maybe look at Owen Roizman's work on "Tootsie", where he helped even Dustin Hoffman look like a woman? Likewise, other films depicting men successfully "passing" as women might be good starting points, e.g., "Triple Echo". Some transsexuals actually have "facial feminization surgery" as part of their transition process:

http://beginninglife.com/FFS.htm

Also check out "M. Butterfly". That was a great looking film as I recall.
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#4 Rich Steel

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 11:25 AM

I've done it before and from my experience I lit as flat as possible.

Used a Kino Flo Flathead 80 with 3/4 diff just off and above the lens and used a Mini Flo on the opposite side (again directly above the edge of frame and alot closer to the subject) to get a bit of an eye light going.

Also, HANDS can be a huge give away as is the ADAMS APPLE.

Whatever you do Good Luck.
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#5 Tim J Durham

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 12:19 PM

Two more films to check out, both from Neil Jordan, "Breakfast on Pluto" starring Cillian Murphy and "The Crying Game". You'll be able to tell when it is/isn't successful by watching how your forebares did it. I thought they did a nice job in both films but ofcourse he was not trying to pass Murphy or off as a woman to the audience. Everyone knew he was a man from the beginning. Jaye Davidson in TCG was a different story.
I think he/she really DID pass until... you know...
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#6 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 01:05 PM

I recall that in both "Tootsie" and "Breakfast on Pluto", the hair was often styled with long bangs covering the forehead, so the difference in facial structure was somewhat hidden.
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Metropolis Post

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

CineLab

Opal

Glidecam

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Visual Products

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Abel Cine

Aerial Filmworks

Tai Audio

Technodolly

Willys Widgets