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night scenes with children


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#1 Anastasia Kirillova

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 12:03 PM

Hi,
I'm a director in pre-production of a short film and I have come up against an interesting dilemma. The film is set in and around a forest by a lake during the summer (summer feel is important). The entire film is set at night and the cast are children. No matter how much my producer and I have tried to find loop-holes in the law in terms of working with kids at night we can't really find any ways around it. the law says that the kids will have to be wrapped at 7 in the evening the latest which doesn't even give us the opportunity to extend our shoot days and working only two-three hours in the evenings after it gets dark. We don't have the budget to build a set of a forest indoors and it looks more and more like we are being forced into shooting during the day. The nighttime feel and look is crucial to the entire message of the film. The main inspiration for this film is photography of Bill Henson and that's the look we were aiming for. So I wanted to ask you for advice of how this problem could be solved. Day for night is obviously the first thing that comes to mind but it seems far from the look we're after with it's bluish tones and the lack of any blacks in the picture. Perhaps I'm wrong. The only examples of day for night I've seen look very blue, artificial and you can clearly see that it's shot during the day. Maybe I'm looking at the wrong examples (Chris Cunningham's video, Frozen; scenes out of 'The Beach' for instance). Is there no way of staying close to 'Bill Henson look' in the conditions under which we are forced to work in? If not, what would be the options? How can we stay at least close to that look and feel? Would switching to B&W help maybe?
Any suggestions would be highly appreciated.
cheers,
anastasia

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#2 Max Smith

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:39 AM

Anastasia,

Where are you filming (US/UK/Europe) ?

Options I can think of:
A) Abandon the look. Shoot-day-for night. Black and white. A combination of red and green filters (green and red wratten 23A, 25, 56, 58) should give the ability to manipulate the brightness of the sky to get an acceptable day-for-night look - add lots of flags and silks to soften the light. Take some black and white still test shots (ideally on the film you intend to use). I'm sure others will be able to advise further/better.

B) Shoot what you can in a blacked out studio (the image you showed is mostly black) - with a few prop branches, and distant lights. Checkout greenset.com. For the rest - build/buy/hire the biggest tent you can afford and line it with blackout material, and build an outdoor set (for where you need the ground in shot). If you can find someone who owns some forrest - perhaps you can decapitate a few trees and build the tent around that area. Shoot wide shots at night with doubles in the same clothing. Shoot clean plates of the backgrounds for close-ups and green screen/rear project in the child actors in the studio. Use the few hours at the end of the day to shoot everything else.

C) Go abstract.

D) Shift the location to an abandoned factory, etc.

E) Find someone else who is building a forest set and beg them to let you use it (not impossible)

F) Use non-children to play children or at least the roles that require extensive after dark photography.

G) Look for a nearby state/country that has more liberal child labour laws and shoot there. Texas (till 10pm or 12pm). Mexico ? Seek legal advice before doing so.

H) Cast adults in the roles - and play it straight...
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#3 Anastasia Kirillova

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 11:13 AM

Thank you so much Max for so many suggestions, definitely some good food for thought there. Really appreciate it. I am shooting in UK by the way, pretty tough child laws here.
any more thoughts from anyone else, particularly on the day for night subject are more than welcome, weighing out all the possible options.
thank you guys.
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#4 Jim Keller

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 12:00 PM

How young do the children need to be? If teens, I strongly suggest going the "18 to look younger" route. If pre-pubescent, rather than shooting day-for-night, I'd be inclined to build a forest set on a soundstage.
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#5 Anastasia Kirillova

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 06:01 PM

The kids are playing age 11 so....
would love to build a forest set but even though my budget is decent it wouldn't really cover building a forest set and paying for a soundstage...

How young do the children need to be? If teens, I strongly suggest going the "18 to look younger" route. If pre-pubescent, rather than shooting day-for-night, I'd be inclined to build a forest set on a soundstage.


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