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Monday, 08 November 2010 22:46

Lights on Best Ensemble

Written by  John Law
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LightCol_HL_BTS_dollhouseFilmmaker Adam Reid’s first feature Hello Lonesome had its world premiere at the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival, where it won the award for Best Ensemble Performance. But when Reid first set out to make his acclaimed film, he knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

A writer/director/producer who got his start doing promos for Comedy Central shows like “South Park” and “The Daily Show,” Reid had to shoot his film with a micro-budget of “well under $100,000” and a skeleton crew of six –– “and that’s including me,” he notes. He also worked as his own DP while his gaffer, Chris Trudeau, doubled as a data technician. “We didn’t even have a grip department,” Reid reports. “But it wasn’t only because of the tiny budget; I really wanted to focus on the actors’ performances, and I wanted a very intimate, natural feel for the film, which is basically a dramedy composed of three stories revolving around relationships.” The first story is about a voiceover artist, starring real-life Artist Harry Chase; the second was conceived by Reid “as a vehicle” for Actress Lynn Cohen; and the third was “inspired” by his sister’s struggle with breast cancer.

Reid shot the 90-minute film on location in Manhattan, New Jersey and Connecticut over a 15-day period using a Panasonic HVX200A. “Working this small, while it presented a huge opportunity, is quite challenging in terms of lighting,” says Reid. “I began by asking, what’s the least amount of light I can get away with?” He notes that the light sensitivity of digital technology “is now so great that you can capture far more than you could with film or even digital just a few years ago; it’s much more forgiving.

”With all this in mind, Reid approached the lighting with a novel plan. “I made a killer deal with the gaffer,” he explains. “I couldn’t afford to take him and get the lights that we wanted. So instead of renting lights, we went out and bought an ARRI kit from B&H Photo in Manhattan, and I told him he could just keep the kit when we wrapped, which was a very creative solution. He’d worked with me as a soundman on my commercial shoots and this was his first film as a gaffer, and he wanted the opportunity to learn lighting in depth, so he got excited about using the kit. And it helped me as I got the chance to try something really unorthodox, plus I got someone who essentially donated his time.”

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Reid and Trudeau ultimately lit the entire film using two ARRI 600s, two 350s and a handful of 100-watt Peppers. “We also had a couple of softboxes and made use of bounces,” adds Reid. “Yes, it was a risk, as neither of us had done a film before, but it was a calculated risk. I knew that Chris was very talented and that he’d work hard and make it work –– and he did. And it was like this great training ground for a very low-budget indie film. We both got experience, and the look of the film wildly exceeded all of my expectations.”

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