A Bit of Film Noir…

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Just Some Notes on Film Noir…

Film Noir was a term coined by French film critics that noticed how dark downbeat and black the looks and themes were. Contrary to belief, film noir is not a genre but rather a mood, style, point of view and tone to a film. Film noir were melancholy, alienation, bleakness, disillusionment, disenchantment, pessimism, ambiguity, moral corruption, evil, guilt, desperation and paranoia.

Lighting: Make use of low key lighting as well as harsh lighting with emphasis on shadows .To get hard, crisp shadows, use a small intense light. Emphasize the difference between high and low key lighting. Use at least 500 watt lights to get solid crisp black and stark whites.

The venetian blinds setup is a famous and well used trick for many films. To achieve this effect place a 1K (any hard, intense light) through a window with the venetian blinds tilted slightly. This can be a great contrasting effect adding detail to your shot.

A foggy background can have add great effect to a silhouetted figure, especially when lit from the back. As the fog illuminates, it also simulates diffusion and casts an eerie glow as seen below from The Big Combo.

Shadowy figures are a big part of the film noir look and a well used technique even in modern times. Again, using intense lighting (1 or 2K), set up a series of lights that will be out of frame and slightly behind the actor so that the shadow is projected onto the wall behind.

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