Indie Filmmaking: How to Light Car Scenes

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Shooting scenes in cars is something you will run into all the time in cinematography. Creating drama with your lighting is important no matter where the scene takes place. While there are many different ways to light the inside of a car, having to-go lighting techniques that you can use every time will help you be efficient when shooting. Today, director of photography Laura Odermatt walks us through how to shoot a night interior car scene, in the style of suspense thriller scene.

In this video, Laura shows us the steps she takes when shooting a night interior car scene. First, she shoots through the front of the car to see the man sitting in the driver’s seat. This angle also allows us to see through the car at what is happening behind him. Next, she shoots a reverse angle of the first shot to see the man’s point of view looking through the rear view mirror. This adds a sense of suspenseful voyeurism to the scene. Lastly, she shoots a profile shot of the man in the car. This way we can see the other car pass him on the side through the opposite window.

The main techniques we will be discussing today are bouncing light to create eye lights, adding light from the dash, and rolling down windows to reduce reflections. Bouncing light to create eye lights refers to the technique of bouncing light off of the rear view mirror in order to get more light on the subject’s face. This is useful because in the tight space inside of cars, it can be difficult to add a good eye light. Adding light from the dash refers to placing a light on the dash of the car to fill in the subject’s face with more light. Often times the dash of a car has places to easily set a small light. Rolling down the windows to reduce reflections is helpful because when you’re shooting through a window of a car you get a lot of reflections. An easy way to get rid of those is to roll down the windows, if you can.

Ultimately, as filmmakers we are trying to tell human stories. Learning how to light faces in any situation is incredibly important for telling those stories. Different lighting styles and directions will create different feelings and emotions. It is also important to be able to embrace different sources or motivations for your key lights, as they might lead you to lighting designs that you would never have thought of. There is almost always a way to make the light falling on someone’s face more flattering. But it is also essential to be able to embrace the type of lighting that will complement the talent’s face and best tell the story.

Connect with Laura: https://www.instagram.com/odrmtt/
Connect with Olivia: https://www.instagram.com/olivia.treece/
Connect with Jason: https://www.instagram.com/faydakin/
Connect with Valentina: https://www.instagram.com/valentina.vee/

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANvRAQdI1MU