Into the last week of March I was approached by a friend I met from working on The Aquabats! Super Show! about being the gaffer for a new webseries about foodies in Los Angeles.
Combining my two favorite loves filmmaking and food, it was music to my ears! When I learned more about the production the more I knew this wold be something that I’d love to do. Lots of different locations, restaurant lighting, and most importantly lighting lots and lots of scenes of food! I encourage everyone who loves food, dramas, or some good old fashion nerdism to check out the website for this brand new webseries Pairings!
From Days 1+2
Side Note: I always try to bring a small camera to set to capture some behind the scenes. It’s always nice to have my own set of photos separate that of the still photographers. And being a bit of a camera hoarder I choose to being with me for the first weekend a 1979 Olympus XA rangefinder with some long expired Kodak Max 400 film.
For the first two days of shooting we were in an apartment building in Studio City. I rather liked the building, it was built in 1954 and was really roomy with the original 50’s classic white stove!
Our grip and lighting package is small but it does have all the tools needed to make sure Pairings looks the best it can be! We have:
– (2) 1k Fresnels
– 2k Fresnel
– KinoFlo Fat Man
– KinoFlo Diva
– (5) C-Stands
– (2) Low Boy Combos
– (10) 25ft Stingers
– (10) 15lb Sandbags
– (2) China Balls
– Doorway Dolly
– Apple Box Family
– 2×3 Single, Double, Silk, (2) Flags
– Misc Mounting Grip Equipment
The first day on set is always a little slow. You meet people whom you’ve never seen before and besides learning everyones name (fast) you always wonder what everyones personality type is and if you will get along with them. Luckily for me everyone was super friendly from the very beginning and our DP Seth Johnson (AFI graduate) is fantastic to work with and believes in the whole Picard over Kirk question. Haha!
We spent most of the first day shooting montages of food being prepared in the kitchen. Our go to light was the Diva, we had it setup with 3 bulbs daylight and 1 tungsten for most of the day. Surprisingly this was the first time I’ve used a Diva for an extended period of time. And might I say, I rather enjoy using it. I love that it’s dimmable and small enough to use even in tight spaces. I’m mainly use to using a Fat Man on set but I can see myself renting one of these for a lot of future work.
Ed and Jodie are our executive producers and here they are prepping the, “dipping the madeleines in chocolate” scene. Which we were able to eat afterwards, so tasty! The scene was lit with the Diva with diffusion setup as an overhead light with the Fat Man with two bulbs on as a small fill light.
We also had a lot of scenes with dialogue with our cast sitting on either side of that wooden bar. We still used the window as our main motivated light source. I put the Diva in a hallway next to the kitchen and poked it out as a “window” from down the hallway, flagging it off the walls if needed. For the close ups we walked the Diva in super close and diffused it for the actors key. Seth loves big soft sources for actors and especially for catch lights and this light was a definite winner in his book. He mentioned his love of Meet Joe Black a few times for a similar look, I believed he said they used something along the lines of an 8×8 and punched a 2k-5k though it for a nice soft wrap on the face.
I loved lighting the food scenes, they were a little tedious because we had such a finite amount of prop food we could use, so we had to make it count. I found myself thinking of some really well lit Food Network shows for inspiration for these scenes, Giada At Home and Barefoot Contessa came to mind. If you haven’t checked them out please do it now! Not only do they both have really nice production value (especially the lighting) both chefs have some amazing recipes to make at home!
We began day two with rain and a lot of it!!
Thankfully we were shooting interiors all day. We continued with some leftover kitchen shots before we moved into the living room.
It was late in the afternoon when we were really full force shooting in the living room. Our Diva was used to help boost the window backlight and our Fat Man was as much as a side light as we could make it. All bulbs were daylight balanced for these scenes. You can see our key grip Hollywooding a foamcore flag to help block excess light from hitting the lens (Camera is left and back from the above photo). I love how he seems to be posing for my camera too haha.
The practical lamp in the corner was on a dimmer with a 100w bulb placed in it.
Coming to the end of the night we had an important scene that took place in front of a TV at night. Seth wanted really simple lighting for the scene so the audience can just focus on the actors performances. Our solution was a very powerful TV gag light from the Diva.
We used the Diva with the egg crate on daylight bulbs front in front of our actors. I was sitting on an apple box behind the light and rode the dimmer to simulate the TV. The gag worked really well!
The only other light we used as a 1k with half CTB that was aimed at the trees across the street to add some depth to the window. It was a very subtle light, the kind where you wouldn’t notice it in the scene but sense something was missing if it wasn’t there.
All and all I must say, I rather enjoyed the first two days shooting. One of the best things about working on a food themed show is that after all the scenes the food becomes part of craft services!
The next two days of shooting took place in a sushi restaurant in Culver City and a house in North Hollywood. Which i’ll try and post the reports for soon!