Over the years, we've covered a wide range of methods and tools for lighting a film, everything from hardware store clip lights to high-end cinema lighting tools. As fantastic and practical as some of the higher-end tools can be, most of us just don't have the budget to rent (let alone own) those tools, so we end up resorting to cheap fixtures and DIY light-sculpting methods in order to illuminate our films. That's not necessarily a bad thing, however, considering that having a DIY mindset when lighting can produce some truly ingenious and cost-effective techniques. Not So Fast, a short film from David F. Sandberg, is one such example of DIY lighting ingenuity. In a short BTS video about the making of the film, David reveals how he used a plastic IKEA trashcan in order to create a portably-powered DIY beauty dish that provides fantastic results.
First up, here's Not So Fast:
And here's a quick behind the scenes look at how exactly Sandberg pulled off not only the DIY lighting (and a DIY dolly move), but also how he used Blender, the free 3D modeling tool, to create the trippy effect of the doorway being pulled back into space.
There's just so much to love about how Sandberg made this film. The IKEA trashcan lined with tinfoil is a concept that mirrors how a traditional beauty dish functions in that it provides a relatively soft and uniform light that falls off quickly. When combined with purposeful underexposure, this single light source allowed Sandberg to easily create the enveloping sense of darkness behind the dreaming character. To take the concept of the IKEA trash can light even further, you could use a modified version of the contraption with diffusion (or other gels) taped to the mouth of the trashcan to create beautiful, soft light for character closeups, as an eyelight, or even as a background light for moody, atmospheric ambient light. The possibilities are endless.
For me, this is low-budget filmmaking at its finest. We're at a point where reasonably priced cameras like the BMCC and the insanely inexpensive BMPCC are at everybody's fingertips, DIY lighting and grip equipment can be found at your local hardware store (or IKEA), and post-production tools like Blender, Lightworks, and Resolve Lite provide professional results for free. It's safe to say that the practice of high quality filmmaking, which was once extremely expensive and out of reach for most people, is now within the grasp of anybody who has a story to tell.