Sometimes, for a film, you gotta make it rain -- unless of course you live in the Pacific Northwest, or somewhere equally as soggy and miserable. And even if you do live in 75%-chance-of-rain perpetuity, natural rain looks nothing like movie rain on-screen. Creating stormy conditions is something that is extremely intentional and labor intensive, but Jason Satterlund, a Portland-based filmmaker and probable rain expert, shares several tips on how to create "sexy movie rain" and dynamic wind effects on a budget. Continue on for the videos.
Me being a native Oregonian means a few different things: I kind of feel like I own Nike (we call Phil Knight "Uncle Phil" here in Eugene), I will absolutely play hacky sack anytime/anywhere, and I'm too proud to use an umbrella in the rain (but I still complain about getting soaked). So, creating rain that looks really good on-screen is kind of an irrational desire for me, but Satterlund's tips give some excellent insight into what works, what doesn't work, and what things to think about before you pelt your actors with water and debris.
Satterlund utilized rain towers hooked up to fire hydrants, and though it only cost him $100 for the permit and water (add to that the cost of the lift/water tower/other rentals), there are less spendy options. I'm sure you've seen plenty of videos on how to build a DIY rain machine or rain bar, and those not only work well, but they're inexpensive and relatively straightforward to make. Just make sure that whatever you build produces thick, fat, beautiful rain drops (and no -- a hose is probably not going to cut it).
Check out the videos below, as well as Satterlund's article to learn more about the elements that will help bring your rain to the forefront of your scene (or just show up at all), like lighting, drop size, and debris/dust/smoke -- Satterlund also lists a bunch of materials you can use.
Adding rain to a scene isn't usually an arbitrary thing. If you're going to go through the trouble, you might as well make it as dynamic and narratively significant as possible.
What do you think about Jason Satterlund's tips? Do you have any suggestions on how to make rain look better on-screen? Let us know in the comments below.