February 27, 2016 at 11:59PM


Help with some technical questions please :)

Hello! My name is Marwah Ghazi, and for my final year project in university I decided to make a short film. However before producing the short film i must conduct a research on the background of the film.
My research topic is “Showcasing how film is used as a medium/language to stand against prejudice and to promote tolerance"

My basic film idea is about a “dark room”. The idea is, we are the product of our own thoughts and if we keep being hateful and negative, we will end up in a “dark room”. I have yet to construct the storyline.

1- What are the powerful camera angles? Do you think using plenty of close-ups tells us more about the character’s personality than other angles?

2- In terms of cinematography, how to utilize the “low light” shots to emphasize the characters’ facial expressions and their surrounding environment.

3- What kind of camera/ lens do you prefer using when shooting in a low light environment?

4- What sort of color/ feel should a short film about an issue of “hate” have?

5- What symbolizes “hope” to you?

Thank you so much!
if you have any questions you can contact me at

Have an awesome day! :D


To keep it easy i'll answer the questions just as you've given them to the comunity:

1.) In general I would use wide angle lenses because they make the film more realistic. They let the audience be inside the film and not be an observer. Close-ups are good if you want to tell the protagonist's emotions. But also some long shots are good so you can show that this person is lonely or hopeless (or what so ever).

2.) Use very harsh light and negative fill. Try three-point-lighting but without the fill light. Then the backlight will seperate them from the background. For the background itself I would use either softlight that brightens up the middle of the walls and darkens the corners or also very harsh light to get some very sharp shadows. Try out and use what fits better to your story.

3.) In low light the Sony A7s might be a good choise because it's the low light king. As a lens I would recomand a wide angle zoom. If you cannot get an A7s you should get a wide angle prime because it has a faster aperture.

4.) You could make it black/white or go with a grading that prefers red (because of hate). Or do both with selective color.

5.) Hope is in most cultures symbolized by light. So I think everytime you have some "special" light in your scene this would stand for hope. Or make it a special person that's symbolizing hope.

February 28, 2016 at 3:20AM

Eric Halbherr
Director, DP, Editor, Creative Storyteller

Thank you so so much for your insightful answers! I appreciate it! I will note down your advice and hopefully post a link for the short film in the future! :D

Marwah Ghazi

February 28, 2016 at 4:33AM

A really, really important thing to understand about shooting "dark" rooms as a cinematographer: it's all about the lighting, not about the camera. A scene shot in a dark room is, technically, a "low key" shot. The key to a low key shot is getting the contrast ratios correct, not about shooting in near-darkness. If you look at BTS lighting videos, you will see that many low-key shots are actually accomplished using thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of watts of light. But what makes them pop is the proper use of lighting and lensing, not darkness and whiz-bang sensor technology.

Thus, I agree with Eric's suggestions #1, and #2. But I think suggestion #3 is going to lead you down the wrong path. You can shoot low-key scenes with any camera, if you have proper lighting. And if you don't have proper lighting, the A7 is just going to make your image look like a badly lit scene that's actually bright enough to see (rather than a badly lit scene that's full of noise, too).

February 29, 2016 at 4:23AM


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