One of the most common questions we get, and most common mistakes we find, is about interview lighting. Production value on a documentary is hugely important because it helps legitimize your topic and your voice. But a big misstep many filmmakers make is overlooking the lighting of their interviews. Eve Hazelton, Director of Photography for The Underwater Realm goes through the basics of interview lighting.
The Three-point lighting setup has been used for decades, why? Because it works! It provides all the basic elements needed for a good image and should be your starting point. As Eve mentions, you can add extra lights to add some interest to the background, including using household lights.
The 3 main lights you use, however, should be of decent quality and soft lights (i.e. diffused lighting) is better than harsh lighting (i.e. direct lighting). If you’re short on lighting equipment, there are workarounds. You can bounce lights off walls and ceilings, or combine natural light coming from a window to supplement your setup. The most important point to take away from this is think about lighting!
Eve has written up a full tutorial on lighting which you can read here
“First off – don’t just point a light at your subject and hope that’s enough. You are painting with light here, be a little more subtle!” ~Eve Hazelton
Eve Hazelton is the Director of Photography for the Underwater Realm, an indie film funded entirely by Kickstarter contributions and filmed almost entirely underwater! It is a great film and Eve’s work is wonderfully showcased. In addition to her busy schedule, Eve still finds time to create wonderful tutorials like the one above. You can see more of her tutorials at the Underwater Realm’s website.