I love shooting period films. They are so much fun from the costume design to the production design and the lighting!
The second I knew I was brought on to shoot a 1930’s I knew I wanted to utilize diffusion filters on my lens. It’s something I’ve never really explored and felt the look of the 1930’s really justified the choice. Ideally I wanted to get something along the lines of a black pro mist but due to the extremely limited prep time I had, I had to settle for what I could find in the filter bin of my local used camera store. I wasn’t able to find any pro mist’s but was able to score a Tiffen Soft FX filter for $10.
Our location was a 1920’s woman’s club in Orange, CA which had a really open auditorium that we transformed into a ballroom.
Since we didn’t have a lot of background people we choose to shoot into one of the corners, leaving enough room to populate it with tables for our background to sit. The electrical in the building was a real disaster, it took longer than I wanted to get a balanced load. We were popping with only a 1k on some circuits and had to run a lot of stinger to compensate.
Our lighting setup was kept simple because of that. We had a 1k par going through the window with full CTB. We then parked a 1k fresnel behind the curtained glass doors. And to round out our background lights I hid a tweenie on the ground aiming up at the wall. Our key light was a boomed out 200w tungsten above the table, wrapped in cine-foil to keep it off the walls. And finally we had a small 2×4 kino as an edge/rim light from camera right.
Our camera for the film was a Canon 7D with a set of vintage Olympus OM Zuiko prime lenses. I found that the Soft FX filter worked wonderful on the wides, kept it at a F4 on a 28mm but when we moved in for coverage it was too heavy and I had to remove it. So the diffusion had to be added in post. Overall it was a pretty fun shoot. We moved at a brisk pace and was able to get a decent amount of coverage considering our limited time at the location.
Below are some screen grabs I pulled and sent to the editor as a color reference. All the editing was done in Photoshop using only the curves tool. I added some minor diffusion to the image as well to fully achieve the look I was originally going for.
My personal favorite screen grab!
This was our lead. He had a lot of lines dealing with faith and I framed the window behind him in a way to form crosses over each of his shoulders.