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Creating Equipment Lists


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#1 Marc Levy

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 02:39 AM

Hello all,

As creating lighting lists for productions based on speculation (pre-scout, and before any real creative/technical elements of the production have been solidified) has been a source of frustration for me, I am very interested in how other cinematographers decide on a lighting package to submit to the production. There are always so many choices, and I feel I tend to over-estimate my needs.

Thanks.
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#2 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 02:46 AM

When in doubt I always over estimate, then let the gaffer and production fight it out with the rental houses ;).

Generally if the production is going to be moving around to all sorts of locations I try and order a nice mix of the stuff I like to use.

If there are very specific locations that require a special approach, then that will be discussed and we will just order certain items for that time.

I generally talk to my gaffer about what I want to have/ the approach we will take (at this point he can pretty will guess), and then he will make up the list including the heads and all the distro and smaller stuff (after getting the best boy's input). I then just glance over the list, make any changes and forward it to production or my marketing rep if I am working directly with him on getting the price in a ball park range it needs to be before even turning it over to production.

Kevin Zanit
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#3 Chris Pritzlaff

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 04:02 AM

Hello all,

As creating lighting lists for productions based on speculation (pre-scout, and before any real creative/technical elements of the production have been solidified) has been a source of frustration for me, I am very interested in how other cinematographers decide on a lighting package to submit to the production. There are always so many choices, and I feel I tend to over-estimate my needs.

Thanks.



Need a gaffer Marc? B)
I usually work with the DP to figure out what they are trying to achieve with the lighting and then give them suggestions on the units to rent for different situations. We then go from there to negotiate with the rental house to see what we can get for our budget. Feel free to contact me if you wish.
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#4 G McMahon

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 11:08 AM

What sort of budgets are you working with?

With the jobs I do, probably tiny in comparison to others, I look at the hardest or most lighting required location first, then see if I can utilise that gear in the other locations. I have a general feel for what the director is probably after at this point, and their coverage.

I often feel I am caught the other way round wishing I had one more light, or looking for one more circuit. Like I said, not much budget.

Nice reel by the way.
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#5 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 02:14 PM

Well, often you have the gaffer with you on the recce (scout in America) and you do the list together. But since they charge for that, certain tight productions can't afford to bring them along. Then it's up to me.

I then basically do a rough list, but without the specifics such as stands, cables, breakers, dimmers etc and I let the gaffer complete the list and suggest better lights and/or equipment fo the job. I literally dump a very rough list in his lap and let him finish it off after we've talked about what needs to be done.

Like Kevin, I'm trying to make my lists a bit bigger and ready for surprises, but my training and inclination (coming from a low budget background) is always to do the perfect size list. I still get a warm, fuzzy feeling out of being able to pull off all we set out to do with a lean list. Don't know why, but that's just gratifying somehow :D .
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#6 EricUlbrich

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Posted 23 August 2006 - 05:41 AM

Pritzlaff is right, the Gaffer will help you with equipment, its their job. Chris and I work together all the time, he has a great deal of artistic talent with lighting and my talent is with equipment and picking the right tool for the job (I still have artistic talent too, I just know my equipment) but I help him get the right lights for the right situation. Get the Set Lighting technicians handbook: (here is amazons URL: http://www.amazon.co...8809769?ie=UTF8
I think this book has helped me immensley with my choices in lighting needs.
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#7 Kristy Tully

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Posted 01 September 2006 - 04:23 PM

Hey Marc,

Yes I understand. Often production companies push me for a list before the scout and before I've had a good chance to talk out all the creative with the director. They are usually doing this to either put together a budget, or start talks with the rental house so they don't get raped at the last minute. I used to be a pain in the ass and tell them I can't do it until I know more, mostly because I used to be a gaffer and that's what I'd say before the scout as a gaffer. ( It's not so surprising for them to have a pain in the ass gaffer, but not so fruitfull to be a pain in the ass DP). But, now I try to give them a ballpark so they can ballpark a number. I am, of course, careful to say as many times as I can that this is just speculation and I'm sure it will all change after the creative and after the scout. And, like promised it always does. It's helpful though to let them know if you think you need 18Ks or just 1200 pars. Or just a medum tungsten package. I try to think of what might cost them money: arms, big HMIs, any HMIs, dollys, big frames of muslin or ultra bounce- anything I think the rental house may have to sub rent. Then I just say things like, ....and a small hmi package and a medium grip package. This seems to forfill there needs for their budget or preliminary talks with the rental house.
Of course after the scout I'll be more specific. Or if the gaffer and key grip were on the scout they have written down everything I think we need and supplement from there. I only get involved if the order needs to be cut significantly. If they are not on the scout, I'll talk to them on the phone and tell them the heads and the specific grip gear I forsee needing and let them add everything I forgot you need to make it all work.
However, if it's a freebee, I usually just do all the ordering, and sometimes email the list to the gaffer and key grip just for them to take a quick glance. They'll remind me of anything I forgot or something they think will really help, but I try to really keep their time protected.

I feel comfortable doing the ordering though because I was a gaffer for many years and did all the ordering. If I hadn't been a gaffer, I'd have to rely, and should rely on the gaffer to help. Even on freebees. There's nothing worse than coming to set and not having the one peice of gear that will save a lot of work. As a gaffer I would always rather spent time on a day off making an order than have to deal with the consequences of a poorly put together order.

Edited by Kristy Tully, 01 September 2006 - 04:24 PM.

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