Going Au Naturel: How ‘Wild’ Used Available Light

| January 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

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Have you ever thought of going natural? Of course we don’t mean nude, though partially undressing cinema of its primary defining feature (i.e., lighting) is still seen as a taboo choice. Shooting under available lighting conditions is a tough choice and begs the question: will it increase your film’s gritty edge? Or will your film look better suited for a FAIL compilation

Reese Witherspoonl in Jean-Marc Vallée's "Wild"

Reese Witherspoon in Jean-Marc Vallée’s Wild

Wild cinematographer Yves Bélanger explains the radical decision to eschew traditional lighting methods:

“We did it first in Dallas Buyers Club, but it was for economic reason[s]. First, we were very afraid it would look ugly, or too documentary, but a lot of time it looks great. So when we did Wild, we had a decent budget and everything, and we decided to do the same. This time, it was an artistic reason, not an economical reason.” 


Not sold? Read what Noam Kroll has to say about using available light for his latest feature film:

“The practice of shooting with only natural or available light on cinematic productions can be fantastic if it suits your story and method of working on set and in pre-production. It’s important to recognize before going into production using only available light though, that it will not make things easier. It will simply shift the workload to different areas of the production. For example, it may seem freeing to not have to rent lights, set them up and move them for every shot. However, many film makers don’t realize that shooting with available light is often more challenging than shooting with a traditional lighting set up. While you save time and money not needing to set up and rent lighting gear, you need to spend extra time planning and researching before your shoot, otherwise your film will suffer.”



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