The film opened up with two of the main characters in a café. It's one of the few scenes we would shoot at night, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to get some deeper contrast than what we would see in many of the later scenes. We had limited time at this location and had to stay as unobtrusive as possible, so we only brought two lights for this and set up a classic cross-key lighting scenario that worked perfectly for this type of scene, since it's just two actors seated at a table.
Due to some unpredicted scheduling constraints we ended up shooting bits and pieces of this scene at three different times during the shoot. There were a few things that I always kept consistent to ensure that everything cuts together seamlessly: I kept coming back to the 80A Filter (a deep blue camera filter that's usually used to balance tungsten illumination for daylight film), in this case I kept the camera balanced to tungsten and let the blue effect wash over the image. Then I always made sure to accent the background with a bit of green. I find that it doesn't come off as overbearing or even obvious, but it still breaks up the image and gives some dimensionality. And last, I always kept the exposure exactly the same: ISO, aperture, and shutter. In fact, with the exception of a couple shots, the entire film is photographed at an f/2.8 just for consistency.
This was a fun scene because we got to introduce the eccentric French woman character (Christelle) who would come into our main character's (Luke) home and throw him for a spin. We wanted to set up the scene as if anything could be on the other side of the door when Luke goes to open it, so I was really interested in this idea of lighting her almost as if she was some sort of villain by keeping her very contrasty and imposing. I chose the wide angle lens here because this is the moment when Luke slams the door in her face, the first time she tries to come inside. I thought it was only fitting that the camera should also be right in her face; and I think audiences can feel the difference.
It doesn't take much experience in making films to realize how absolutely critical the inserts are. Christelle has aspirations of owning her own bar someday, so she gets straight to work practicing mixing her own cocktails once she moves in. We spent a while filming the many drinks she cooks up, especially the eponymous "Velours Rouge" cocktail. We always lit the drinks specifically to get the right backlights and reflections in the glassware for these inserts.
This is the scene when Luke finally tries Christelle's Velours Rouge cocktail and we start to see the connection between them forming. The great challenge of photographing this film was that the vast majority of the script takes place in this room of the apartment, and the director wanted to shoot 360 degrees around the space. It became unthinkable to try to photograph the whole film with light stands all over the place, constantly being moved around. Instead I had to devise a lighting plan that used no stands at all, but was still capable of effectively lighting the entire set, and allowed flexibility for tweaks from scene to scene. To that end, we ended up rigging an array of tungsten balanced china balls to the ceiling, as well as a number of Kino Flo fluorescent, open face, and fresnel lights along the walls above the set. This gave the director flexibility to block the scenes wherever she wanted and we never had to move lights.
This is the scene when Luke discovers that Christelle is actually an escort and finds himself trying to rescue her from one of her clients before he realizes that Christelle doesn't need any rescuing. We did this all in one shot and it really helps to heighten the reality of this scene and accentuate the voyeuristic nature of it. In this scene Luke sees her with her client and assumes the worse. Likewise as audience members we have to watch Christelle's interaction with a strange man and make our own conclusions about it. But of course In Luke's case he was able to interject and pull her away from him.
This was the only scene we shot in the bedroom, so we had the luxury of being able to use more color to bring out Christelle's character. I also warmed up the lighting just a little because from the beginning we always wanted to paint Christelle as a person who brings color and livelihood into Luke's life.
Using our single lighting rig in this room, we were able to get many different kinds of looks out of the light. For the actress playing Christelle I wanted to keep finding new ways to light her, while still keeping the lighting beautiful and flattering. In this scene we used a little bit of frontal hard light, mixed with much softer fill sources to get the classic Hollywood butterfly shadow just under her nose.
In this scene is a perfect example of how the lighting setup gave us extra flexibility. We needed to be able to get wide shots like this one, and some much wider, that didn't allow for much space for placing light stands. Also after shooting this wide, the director decided that we needed to get another shot looking in the exact opposite direction. Normally there would be piles of lighting equipment in the frame, but in our case we were able to quickly and easily get the next shot.