Brian Lally was selected by the Galway Film Centre to attend the Nordic Light Workshop in June of this year as part of the Screen Talent Europe network. Now Brian writes a report on his time there and what he learned, read more below!
“I felt honoured to be chosen as the representative of the Galway Film Centre to go to Gothenburg as part of Screen Talent Europe to attend the Nordic Light Workshop. After many years of working around lights, it was a chance to see what I could learn from a totally different environment as well as gain an understanding of natural light in the Nordic climate.
On the first day we travelled to the town of Trollhättan where Studio Fares is based. Our coordinators Pia Marie Wehrling and Martin Hammar organised a presentation of each person’s work to the class and helped us get to know each other. I like always was very nervous as I had to stand and speak to a group of my peers. The question was asked what we hope to get out the workshop. My personal goal was to expand my knowledge of working with natural light but also see about pursuing a career as a Director of Photography. So I was very excited about the workshop, and about working with Luisa Fanciullacci who has such a long and fulfilling career, I was looking for what insight I could get about the Swedish film industry.
The first day of the workshop we met Luisa, who arrived with a truck full of lighting gear. I felt like kid in a sweet shop wanting try all the different lights. We had a small set to work with so we started rigging instantly, first we rigged a 20×20 foot white reflector and then pointed a 6K Arrisun Lamp at it to give an even spread of light through the window of the set. We started rigging many HMI’s (Hydrargyrum Medium-Arc Iodide) but it was there that I saw the new type of 1.2 Arri which is now without a glass lens but instead has a reflector that has the design of the lens on it on the inside. For most of the day we rigged a lot of different types of lights, then Luisa gave us a task for the evening that was to see the difference in daylight and length of our shadows at the “Golden Hour” which is the hour just before sunset. Once again, while enjoying a lovely evening in Trollhättan, I was shocked to see my shadow go all the way down a whole street path at golden hour.
The following day we had some fun by using a smoke machine and filling the entire studio with smoke. The look of the smoke gave a lot of lift to the room with the help of a 6K light and a reflector. We started to rig for a night scene so we started using coloured gels to simulate moonlight, and to do that we used a double of blue gel and put it on the 6K light. After that we started to rig and set up the lights in the scene, using regular practicals and softer lights like Arri Soft Tube. One of the interesting tips Luisa showed us was how the gels can look in natural light on the skin, for example blue gels can make your skin look rather pale or sickly. Towards the end we all just want to keep working, but sadly we had to derig the lamps and thank Luisa for the workshop and all the tips she gave us.
The following day we travelled back to Gothenburg, and for the last part of our trip we met Sanjin Pejkovic, a film historian of Scandinavian film who taught us about the works of Sven Nykvist, a Swedish cinematographer, and how his influence has inspired many young promising filmmakers. I personally like the shots from the film Persona by Ingmar Bergman, which featured quick but brutal imagery that leaves you surprised and horrified.
In conclusion, I felt I still have a lot to learn about lighting but the whole experience has given me a new perspective on my own career as well as a better understanding of lighting and the many techniques that you can use to obtain the type of look you want to achieve in your film. I would like to thank Pia and Martin who were just wonderful hosts and made all of us so welcome, and showed us as well how beautiful Sweden would be to film in and believe me it is a fantastic country and I hope to go back one day.”