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Cinematography Spotlight: 3 Lighting Tips for Film Production School Students

film production schoolLet’s talk about lighting! An often underestimated aspect of filmmaking and production, film/TV lighting has a major impact on the look and feel of every scene. Think Amelie’s warm tones, Citizen Kane’s dramatic high-contrasts, and Pulp Fiction’s vibrant neons. Thanks to stylistic lighting choices, these iconic films are anything but flat.

Setting up lighting on a film set takes practical savvy, creative flair, and even some time management skills. As industry pros can tell you, achieving the perfect lighting for every scene can be a time-consuming process of trial and error.

If you’re considering making your mark on the film production industry, these three tips can help make lighting a perfectly painless process.

1. Never Underestimate the Standard 3-Point Lighting Technique

A trusty standby you’re sure to encounter throughout your career in film production is the 3-point lighting technique, so-called because of its placement of light sources in—you guessed it—3 distinct spots.

3-point lighting involves a key light, fill light, and back light (often called a kick light). The key light is the main light illuminating the subject of the scene. The fill light does the important work of lighting up the rest: filling in the harsh shadows created by the key light on background objects/scenery. The back light is placed directly behind the subject of a scene, which might seem counterintuitive, but is completely necessary for separating the subject from the background in the eyes of your viewers.

Though this 3-point lighting method is far from the only way to effectively shoot a scene, it is a quick, basic, and accessible way to create crisp, clean shots on any film production set.

2. Experiment with Mixed Colour Temperatures When You Study Film Production

If you’re interested in the film industry, chances are you have an appreciation for the artistic side of the movie medium. At a film production school like InFocus, you’ll be encouraged to fine-tune your creativity by experimenting with a range of filming and lighting styles.

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Tinted strobe lights add a vibrant dynamic to this dance club still

One way to step up your lighting game is to experiment with varying tones, shades, and colours. One great example of colour play is the steel mill scene in Terminator 2, wherein ‘The Governator’ is lit by a mix of blue and orange colour temperatures. James Cameron says this combo was inspired by “moonlight and molten steel,” adding a dramatic touch to his film’s climax.

Using colour to its full effect in lighting and film production requires the expertise in colour-matching, using chrome film and gels, and more industry-specific skills you can develop when you study film production. Though it can be trickier than your standard 3-point shoot, colourful choices can lead to more interesting and dynamic cinematography.

3. Shoot in the Order of Your Lighting Setups in Film Production School & Beyond

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: in the film industry, time is money. The time it takes to set up and test optional lighting for each shot is vitally important to the polish of the final product, but it should be done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

In film production school and out on set, it’s best to practice shooting scenes in ways that minimize your need to take down, relocate, and reassemble lights. Wise directors, cinematographers, and film production crews often choose to shoot scenes and shots in the order of the lighting setups.

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Indoors or out, lighting is a major factor impacting production schedules

It’s “lights, camera, action” in that order for a reason! With the right skills, you can ensure film casts and crews aren’t kept in the dark for longer than necessary, and help every shot look its best.

Are you interested in taking film production courses in BC?

Visit InFocus Film School to learn more about getting started!

4 Possible Career Paths for Film Production School Graduates

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There are many career options for film school graduates

Many passionate movie fans dream of a career in the film and television industry, but never pursue the idea. They tell themselves that it’s too competitive, or too unstable, or that only a select few are able to find steady work. These kinds of doubts are all too common, and lead to thousands of potentially brilliant filmmakers giving up before they’ve even started.

In reality, however, a career in film is far more practical than you think. A typical production employs hundreds of trained professionals for specific, specialized roles in sound, visual, and production crews, each playing an important role in bringing an idea to life.

What’s more, prospective filmmakers based in Vancouver—the third largest film production centre in North America—can expect a steady stream of regular work, with hundreds of productions taking place each year.

If you want to find secure work in a business you love, read on to learn more about the many options available.

1. Picture Your Career as a Camera Operator after Film Production School

Have an eye for interesting and original visuals? A career as a camera operator could be for you. A big-budget production can have more than 50 people in its camera crew, with many entry level roles available, such as camera assistants and camera trainees. Working closely with the director, these highly trained professionals help to create a unique visual style for the film, carefully crafting each individual shot.

Camera operators also need to be familiar with a variety of different shooting styles, making it an ideal role for film production school graduates, who gain experience by working on a variety of different portfolio projects, such as documentaries, music videos, and commercials.

2. Use Your Film Production Training to Make the Cut as an Editor

Being an editor requires a wealth of technical knowledge and excellent attention to detail, as you work to craft all the scenes from a film together to ensure the project comes together seamlessly as a coherent whole.

It’s not an easy task, but your film production training and project work will provide you with extensive practical editing experience, while the small class sizes at schools like InFocus mean that each student gets the individual attention they need from instructors to truly hone their craft.

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Editors help make sure a film comes together as a whole

3. Script Readers: For Film Production Students with a Passion for Storytelling

More interested in the storytelling aspects of film? Don’t worry, there are plenty of roles to suit your talents. For example, script readers are often employed by production companies and public funding bodies to assess screenplays they receive, providing detailed reports and story breakdowns to help determine whether a script is suitable for production.

4. Script Supervisor: The Ideal Role for a Film Production School Graduate?

A unique role that requires both screenwriting and cinematography expertise, script supervisors work with the camera crew to ensure they get all the shots they need to bring a script to life, as well as keeping written and photographic records of individual shots to ensure continuity. Because the role requires comprehensive knowledge of filmmaking theory, film school graduates are often considered ideal candidates for script supervisor positions.

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Script supervisors help ensure continuity

Interested in finding out about even more great careers for graduates of film production courses?

Contact InFocus Film School for more details!