I got an email from Writer/Director Lauren Lang about her story ‘Jelly Man.’ We talked a little about the story as well as her vision for the film and once I read the script, I was sold. There was so much creative freedom on this project and we clicked on everything which made it so easy. Here’s a look at how we shot some of the scenes.
For a low budget short film, logistics are key. We were lucky enough to get every scene shot at one location in Glenshaw, PA which is a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA. This old home had the perfect feel in the basement, kitchen and exterior. Worked perfectly for our Jelly Man character and made lighting a lot easier.
On the initial location scout I was most interested in the basement. Lauren wanted to shoot this in one take up until Max finds the Jelly Man’s jelly cellar. Gaffer Pat Yusko and I planned out our lighting scheme there and came up with a plan that I think worked great.
How I Lit the Basement Scene
The initial shot is Max jumping into the basement which is actually their garage. I took our Joker 800 with a medium lens and shot it through a 4×4 1/2 grid cloth. Behind the camera was windows on the gargage door which we blacked out. This was enough to illuminate the basement with some help from our hazer machine.
As he walks into the next room I lit that with a hidden kino (daylight bulbs plus CTB), and the rest practicals. The location already had some fluorescent lighting along with standard Edison bulbs. I colored those with some blue and green but each a little different. There was no science behind this, just seasoned to taste. One the lights he walked underneath I added some 250 diffusion to soften it. This section was also hazed which did a stunning job.
In the cellar we had a cut point. This allowed me to move the Joker to the rear window. When we are looking at Max, there is a Arri 650 with full CTB being bounced into a white card. Pretty simple setup but I didn’t want it overly lit and the hazer did the rest.
The Outdoor Scenes
We were extremely lucky with weather on day 1. To move things quickly, we setup an 8×8 frame with half grid. Key Grip Andy Morris would then rig a bounce or negative fill as needed and sometimes both.
Not much more to it than that. The 1/2 Grid softened the sun and allowed the C300 to get the most out of the skin tones. I always love how great the sun looks on people’s skin tones when you add some thick diffusion and expose properly.
I think Jelly Man came together really well and it was a lot of fun making. We had a great crew that really contributed to the final product. Having a small crew enables an amazing contribution and gets everyone involved. If you have any more questions on the film and how I did certain things don’t hesitate to ask!