Night Exterior Lighting Tutorial: Phone Booth Thriller Scene

Lighting night exteriors can be a challenging task, because to make them look real you might need quite a lot of light sources. In this lighting tutorial you will learn how this suspenseful phone booth scene was filmed.

In this informative and detailed video you will learn how to achieve a dramatic in-camera look of night scenes you see in many thrillers. Many beginning cinematographers and filmmakers are quite astonished to see that even on such simple scenes lighting sometimes is very complex and different for each scene in the coverage. For those who are new to the term, a "coverage" is the process of filming a scene from different camera angles, usually starting from a master shot, like in the example in the video.

The never ending problem in filmmaking is where to hide your lights and gear, so they aren't visible in the shot. In this case, there are two problems: the reflections that may reveal the camera crew and gear and the lights that need to be "invisible" to the viewer, but just to serve their purpose of telling the story. In the close-up scene they added texture to the glass. You will look this technique in many blockbuster movies as well where the windows of cars or rooms are left dirty on purpose. Now you know why.

Even if you are just starting out, try to learn the key principles for lighting and filming such scenes without being overwhelmed by the gear you see used on set.

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3 Comments

I'm more impressed that they actually found a phone booth.

Daniel Medley's picture

The actor in the phonebooth needs some sleep! :)

What's a "phone booth"?