BTS SubText

Last short film I shot was for Director/Writer Chris Valenti and Producer/Actor Michelle Loucadoux in association with We Make Movies collective who financed this film.  

The script was a very funny story called Subtext which was about a blind date gone wrong because of a text sent to the wrong person.  Basically all taking place in one location and with 2 actors sitting across from each other we were able to shoot 8 pages in just under 12 hrs that included full set dress build and tear down. 

We shot on a bar stage at LA Film and Center Studios. The only good practicals are above the bar, so basically everything else was either overhead florescent which was no good, or no light at all. G/E budget was low, which usually means, if I don’t already own it, home depot here I come. 


As mentioned I lit the bar and background pretty much all with practicals. I bought this little 50w spot par bulbs from home depot and had them all on one universal dimmer. Behind the beer/wine bottles I put a couple of these LED tubes I buy off amazon. Their color actually isn’t bad, they have 3 levels of brightness, and battery is internal rechargeable that lasts a few hrs. Got that trick from another DP, now I find myself using them often. Below the bar was a 4x kino with daylight tubes that I think we put some quarter CTO and 1/2 diff on as well. I had white napkins or plates on the bar to also help light faces

Lighting in the restaurant I have several china balls rigged in the ceiling for 250w tungsten bulbs and dimmers. For the mine talents I had a 24in china ball for the 12in elsewhere. This one I put a 500w bulb and wrapped it further in diffusion. I also used black trash bags to cut the light around the sides so it didn’t spill every where. The bags were far enough away from the bulb to not be in any danger on melting and were easy and lightweight to rig on the drop ceiling we had to work with. I had a litepanel backlight placed for Michelle and usually a fill with a litegear mitemat with 1/2 grid. For closeups I brought in a 6x silk frame and stuck it underneath the chinaball. I lit background with a couple fresnels and/or homedpot worklight on the ground just to create spots of highlight. 

Outside I had to blackout cause we shot during day and needed night. The one window we tented so we can push some of our own light through. The night ext. we shot with michelle on the phone we did on a doorway dolly on track, with a 6x unbleached muslin bounce using a 2k open face. Had a bottomer on it and a litepanel for when she got closer to camera.


We shot on the Scarlet Dragon using rokinon primes. Not my favorite lenses but that is what the budget allowed. I used my Flanders Scientific 171 monitor to light from using false color and my trusty sekonic 758cine meter. 

Using Format