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Moira Morel

Low Budget Cemetery Night Exterior Lighting Question

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First time posting on the site and really looking forward to getting some insight on this challenge.


I'm shooting a very low budget short film and we have an exterior night cemetery scene to do. I'll be working with a 3 ton grip truck with an assortment of tungsten lights and some HMI's that I'm renting from a friend. I'm hoping to be able to rent two 6500watt generators, but might only be able to rent 1 and a couple of 2000watt Honda generators. I lucked out in that the location is great and the producer was able to locked in a friend who has an exterior hazer with hoses.


The main location where we're shooting is a very small mausoleum with a big tree that creates a canopy right over the front of it. Attached is a photo of the mausoleum.


I'd love to create an ambient moonlight feel but also with streaks of moonlight spilling through the tree and onto the mausoleum. I'm attaching some references from "Seven Psychopaths" that show the kind of vibe I'm going for. I'm assuming that they were in a studio for this work, and obviously they had a lot more money and man power than I do, but any suggestions or traps to look out for when working with the haze would be greatly appreciated. I've never worked with an exterior hazer before, I know that it will raise my ambient exposure/levels, that it has to be backlit to play and that it'll probably give my sources away, but that's about the extent of it.


I'm also attaching a diagram created over a google map image of the area of what I think might be a good approach to lighting this. Basically, trying to get the biggest LED Fresnel lamp that I can plug into a 6500 putt putt generator pushing through the tree right over the mausoleum from a scissor lift/cherry picker if I can get one. I want to haze the area surrounding the mausoleum then I thought I would back light the haze and tombstones in the background with M18's or Jokers that would be positioned on the ground. Not in the diagram is my idea for keying the characters (who are the red dots in front of the mausoleum, which is the grey square under the tree). I'm thinking of putting one of those new 6x battery operated LitePanels in a cylinder of muslin (sort of like a poor-man's space light chimera) and hanging that over whichever characters we're shooting at the moment. Trying to save my geni power for the ambient light. I've also been thinking that creating a base light with a 12x12 ultra bounce might be a good idea, but I'm worried about washing the scene out and front-lighting the haze out of existence.


I'm I totally off base here?




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How wide is your biggest shot? are you going to see around/the top of the mausoleum. The mausoleum seems pretty far from the graves in the background so I'm not sure how much those are playing in your shot.


I think your on the right track, If you need to cover a really big background I would try to get 1 m40 put that high and far away as you can. The only LED fresnel option's I know of are by Mole I think that would work too and maybe be more power efficient though I have never used them. Aside from one big BG light If you need a stronger edge on talent or want to pick out other elements in the BG I'd have some smaller HMI's. M18 and Joker 800's



for the frontal light on talent, that could be almost anything. Just something soft and dim. I like the idea of it being toplight. You could also just set up an 8x8 overhead and bounce something like a joker 800 into it.


You can do an M40, a M18, and 2 Joker 800's on 2 6500's.

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I'd concur that most LEDs will be too small to do that backlight. Mole have the Tener LED which would just about do it, but it's still under 2KW and as a rental it's going to be of similar cost to an HMI of comparable output, which would probably be something like an M18. So yes, M40 or something.


Probably some sort of floaty overhead fill to give you an ambience is a fine plan.


Beware smoke outside, though. Depending on the weather and time of year, bear in mind that smoke comes out of the machine hot, so it will rise very quickly if the air is cool. Sometimes, using a heavy fogger, which chills the fog, is necessary not so much to make it hug the ground, but just to make it not head for the stratosphere almost immediately.



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Here in LA, the Moles tend to go a bit cheaper if you go through Wooden Nickel, though they are of questionable quality sometimes (both the light and the rental house) but well worth looking into -v- M40s as you can power more, more easily.

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