The Importance of using Lighting in Film (2d)

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October 15, 2012 by Andrew Bogatek

Set Equipment on the Deadwood Fury set. Photo courtesy of Trevor Parkins.

“Quality lighting is one of the most important elements of any professional looking project. Lighting contributes considerably to the emotional response an audience has watching a motion.” (

Every film uses lighting in one form or another, whether it’s a scene set on a sunny beach, or inside a car driving at night. You can tell it’s being used, but you don’t pay attention to it. That’s fine, because you’re watching the movie and seeing its story unfold on screen.

I certainly didn’t realize how extensive we would be using lighting on Deadwood Fury. However, as soon we utilized it though, it made quite the difference.

My co-director Trevor managed to get three large spotlights from his dad, who worked at MuchMusic. They were very old, industrial looking and quite heavy. Each were silver in colour, with a rusted metal stand and a rectangular grid that stood in front of the light bulb.

With our spotlights set up, the lighting was quite impressive. We could indicate it’s success when we looked at the lighting of the set on-camera; the screen quality was much more enhanced and the set was rich in brightness.

Our first scene to shoot featured a nightmare sequence where an ax-wielding, masked killer slices his weapon through a wall at Trevor’s eye. To create an atmosphere of fear and isolation, Trevor and I used red colour filters to create a spooky, red glow in his living room (the setting of the nightmare sequence). The red colour filters are attached to the grid panel on the exterior of the spotlight.

“The Nightmare Sequence”. Photo courtesy of Trevor Parkins.

The importance of lighting in film is very important because:

  • It enhances quality
  • Improves clarity and contrast


Our leading lady, Stepha sat down on a sofa for us while we performed test shots with her in the frame. When we filmed with the spotlights on, it was beautiful. There was no graininess. Stepha’s skin glowed beautifully, it’s almost as if she got a tan. The light captured her complexion like the rays of the sun. A glowing angel, I thought.

To put it simply, if you’re ever doing a film project (or a photoshoot), use lighting wherever possible.  Additionally, here are some other tips about lighting I personally learned on set:

  1. Keep spotlights on only during filming to avoid overheating.
  2. If using colour filters, use them as quick as possible because they melt easily.
  3. Always have someone to turn the lights off for you if you’re the cameraman.
  4. Even if you don’t have spotlights, use you regular lighting in your home. And, if you’re shooting outside, use daylight as much as possible; sunlight helps out a lot in terms of clarity and brightness.

As always comment, express, or cast your thoughts below!


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