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"Blood Lightning" fun b-style zombie movie pics


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#1 Chris Keth

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 04:39 PM

Evening everyone. recently a director friend whom I have worked with a lot asked me to shoot a super cheap b-grade (if that;)) zombie movie he was putting together for fun. We shot it last weekend in three nights. We had between 40 and 60 cast, crew, and extras every night. Obviously super low budget, we went with 2 HVXs for fast coverage and a small HMI lighting package from school. For the very few interiors we had a super small tungsten package. The set photos are courtesy of Adam Richlin, who played camera assistant, gaffer, and set photographer at various points all weekend. These photos are all from our short third night, only about 8 hours.

The photos are here: http://picasaweb.goo...biePhotosEdited

Edited by Chris Keth, 28 April 2007 - 04:40 PM.

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#2 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 02:28 AM

Jesus, 40 to 60 cast and crew?! On a low-budget shoot, no less -- yeesh. What was that like?

My hat's off to ya Chris. No pressure, right? Hope we get to see the completed film at some point.
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 06:55 AM

Jesus, 40 to 60 cast and crew?! On a low-budget shoot, no less -- yeesh. What was that like?

My hat's off to ya Chris. No pressure, right? Hope we get to see the completed film at some point.



Frighteningly hectic. ;)

I had only read a treatment up until the shoot and had zero prep time other than a quick location scout while we shot background plates for composites about a month ago. Power was a nightmare, I don't think there was a circuit there that actually held a full 15A. The power situation is so sketchy it's probably somewhat less than code legal.

Everyone there was a friend of someone so they all had an interest in doing a good job. The head makeup and prosthetic guy is an IT professional by day and does this stuff for fun. The rest of the makeup crew were either volunteers of some sort or were art dept interested film students.

We actually shot in 2 crews a lot of the time. Ali Vatansever worked as a b-camera operator and second unit DP. I got the story stuff and he caught random zombie mayhem, inserts, and was usually a second camera on practical effects like a face being torn off or a big blood spurt from someone's throat being cut.

It was a ton of fun but I wish I had more time to light. A lot suffered because we were doing so many things so fast for so little money.
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#4 Matthew Buick

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 04:26 PM

Gosh! I can't understand how you come up with the cinematography for an entie movie without any prepping time. I need about 5 days to plan a 2 minute movie.

Look forward to seeing it.
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 09:09 PM

Gosh! I can't understand how you come up with the cinematography for an entie movie without any prepping time. I need about 5 days to plan a 2 minute movie.

Look forward to seeing it.


I exaggerated when I said zero, I guess. I had a good day to figure out some things. For the most part, though, the look is extremely simple and is something I have done before.
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#6 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 02:12 AM

Gosh! I can't understand how you come up with the cinematography for an entie movie without any prepping time. I need about 5 days to plan a 2 minute movie.

It's actually not that uncommon for low budget shorts (at least the ones I've been involved in). There isn't always time for a location scout if you get hired at the last minute, so you just have to rely on the natural lighting of location and try to augment it so that it looks good with the lighting kit that you have on hand. If you only have a few small lights, that means letting the practical lamps light the background and using your film lights to light your actors in the foreground. That can be as simple as a backlight and a 3/4 front key light with maybe a little diffusion.

Also, sometimes a location will provide you with happy accidents if you keep your eyes open -- maybe a particular bedroom looks good framed through the bathroom door, or a french door has a great window pattern that you can put a light through, that kind of thing. I've found that sometimes lighting on the fly can look better than months of preplanning and diagramming because you're more aware of the physical realities of the location and the possibilities that it provides. Overplanning can blind you into thinking that the light or camera angle must be a certain way when your instinct is telling you something else.

Experience helps a lot in knowing how to light a location on the fly; usually you go with a technique that worked well before. If I'm going into a shoot like this, I bring a big kit that includes china lanterns, fixtures, practical bulbs of various wattages, gaffer tape, blackwrap, duvytene, various gels, a 600w dimmer, various plugs and socket adapters, stingers, sandbags, my AC kit, and a big roll of ND gel for windows. This covers me for small interior locations, and then I use whatever lights the producer brings. Of course, if I run into a big night exterior like Chris had, then I'm screwed.:blink:

But still, you get the idea. If the director has his shot list (and if it makes sense and is doable, a big "if"), then you'll probably be okay. Just keep checking your watch to make sure you're on schedule. I just can't imagine having to wrangle so many people and fx shots on a no-budget film. You've got BALLS, Chris! :ph34r:
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#7 Chris Keth

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 12:27 PM

If you only have a few small lights, that means letting the practical lamps light the background and using your film lights to light your actors in the foreground. That can be as simple as a backlight and a 3/4 front key light with maybe a little diffusion.

Also, sometimes a location will provide you with happy accidents if you keep your eyes open

Experience helps a lot in knowing how to light a location on the fly; usually you go with a technique that worked well before.

You've got BALLS, Chris! :ph34r:


Satsuki, you're my kind of girl! :lol: You described my approach to a Texas T. Unfortunately this has made me weak in the situations where I have to light a set from scratch. I get so used to starting with existing practicals that I sort of forget what it is like to start with nothing. As for the balls part, thank you for the compliment ;)
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#8 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 07:37 PM

Satsuki, you're my kind of girl! :lol:

Dude, I'm a guy! :rolleyes:
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#9 Chris Keth

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 10:43 PM

Dude, I'm a guy! :rolleyes:


Eeek! :unsure: I am extremely sorry. Your profile doesn't say and I was sitting there and asked my friend (are we right in thinking your name is Japanese?) "would this name be a guy or a girl" and she said "girl" so I took her word for it.

Anyway, how about "great, budget-conscious minds think alike.?"

Edited by Chris Keth, 30 April 2007 - 10:45 PM.

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#10 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 11:27 PM

Eeek! :unsure: I am extremely sorry. Your profile doesn't say and I was sitting there and asked my friend (are we right in thinking your name is Japanese?) "would this name be a guy or a girl" and she said "girl" so I took her word for it.

:lol: It's fine -- I had a good laugh about it! I guess your friend thought it was a girl's name because of that character from Miyazaki's "My Neighbor Totoro." It's actually a unisex name meaning "May" in Japanese (my birthday's May 27th). As you can imagine, I got a lot of grief about that as a kid. <_<

-Satsuki "macho man" Murashige

Edited by Satsuki Murashige, 30 April 2007 - 11:29 PM.

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