Lighting a short film with minimal kit, crew and no budget.

Chapter 1: Liv is now online to be enjoyed by the masses. It was directed by Dom Stephenson starring Brooke Vincent (Coronation Street, Dancing on Ice) and Sally Ann Matthews (Coronation street, Doctors)

Synopsis: When Liv wakes up three weeks after a near fatal car accident, her mum tries to help her remember exactly what happened. What she soon discovers is that some things may be better left forgotten.

My role was to light and shoot the short film. Special thanks goes to my camera assistant Joe Oldroyd as we had so much to do and only two of us to do it. We had 3 very different setups in 3 different locations that had to be stripped down and re-rigged all in one day. Please watch the film here first before reading on as this blog does contain spoilers


Liv wakes in a bedroom battered and bruised after her accident. The room was tight and fairly plain. My task was to make the set look like a young females bedroom. The lighting in the scene was motivated by the large window to the right of the scene.


We placed the Aputure LS1 LED panel which is equivalent to a 1K light high up shining through the window. The window already had some old style blinds which acted as a nice diffuser to soften the light slightly.

The weather wasn't great so we had to chuck up an umbrella to protect the electrics. Ideally we would have an weather proof lighting but remember this is a no budget short film so we had to make do!

aputure lightstorm led panel.jpg

We wanted Brooke to be well exposed with a nice shadow across her face to add shape and texture.

Brooke Vincent.jpg

The position of the lights also put Sally Ann into shadow which added mystery and an element of scepticism to the character.  The light was coming in from quite a high angle which added a nice shadow over her eyes. We bounced a bit of fill light back using 2 banks of a 4 bank fino flo onto each characters face to ensure we could see their performance. We placed a some flowers in the window to break up the otherwise quite hot background. We shot in Slog3 on the Sony FS7 which helped save a lot of the highlights.

Sally Ann Matthews
Brooke Vincent Behind the Scenes


We relocated to the hospital scene down the road. We had to replicate the lighting of the bedroom in the hospital scene. There is a glitch cut bringing both scenes into the same timeline of the story. We put the same aputure lightstorm LS1 led panel off to the right of frame shining through a diffused window.

hospital scene for short film Liv.jpg
Brooke Vincent in hospital

I then added a bit of fill light using a kino flo on the opposite side.

I did bounce a bit more light off the roof to even things out a bit. We had a few more wide shots with more actors in place so I wanted to ensure there was enough light in the scene.

Brooke Vincent in hospital scene

Moving Car

This was by far my favourite scene to light. A little bit of trickery here as the car wasn't moving at all. This short scene was all shot in one darkened garage with a lot of lights and crew to bring it to life.

I had a blue tinted key light coming in through the car window acting as a bit of moon light which was being flagged to add movement. I added fairy lights in the background to act as street lamps/ passing cars. I had another tungsten back light being flagged sporadically to act as brake lights and other car head lights. The set designer sprayed some water onto the windows to act as rain and I also had one of the actors rock the car slightly to make it appear as though it was moving along the road.

lighting a moving car scene
lighting a car scene at night

The scene was shot handheld from the passengers seat and with the audience focusing on Brooke's performance you are really sold in that the car is moving.

From an ease of lighting and health and safety point this was the best was to accomplish this scene. The editor added a slight glow to the scene to help represent the flash back.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 13.13.35 copy.jpg

Thanks very much for reading and I hoped you enjoyed the short film