DIY Lighting – It’s Easier (and cheaper) to Light Your Film Than You Might Think

I have been in this business for a while and I have heard people say a lot of wrong things about lighting. Most of the time, the seasoned pros do not like the idea of using anything other than name brands. DIY lighting and homemade instruments make them cringe. Don’t fall for this nonsense! Just because something is homemade doesn’t make it any less viable in your project. Lighting is lighting – so make the best with what you have at your disposal.

Professional Kits

Let’s start out with the professional kits. There’s a reason that most people sink a lot of money into their lighting kits – they’re durable and reliable. So let’s talk a little about these two points.

  1. Durability. Most tungsten lights (like Arri, Mole Richardson or DiSisti) are extremely durable. You can probably drop them off the roof of a house and the only thing that will break is the bulb. They’re designed this way – probably because clumsy PAs usually drop them.
  2. Reliability. I know that when I get off of a plane and pick up my Arri kit from baggage claim I can start shooting right away. There’s a lot of research and development dollars spent to make sure that they do so. I like to know that when I’m on a job, my gear will work. There’s nothing worse than unreliable equipment – especially lighting – when the client is paying for your time…

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Editor’s Note: We here at WMM are in the business of DIY filmmaking.  You can’t have a decent film without mastering light, but as we know, budgetary restraints can make it difficult to get the job done well.   This article was selected to burst the techie bubble that is lighting for film, and help you get the tools and know-how to MacGyver your set.