These examples are for TV commercials where a lot of coverage was not needed,
but will give you some ideas of what can be done.
The audience sees only what you show them. You can often mix two locations to
look like one and suggest others with a bare minimum of props and set pieces.
We needed people on the porch of a log cabin on a lake, but both were in different
places. We shot all the action at the cabin as if the lake was in front and
then duplicated part of the front porch at the lake. Lighting was easy by blocking
part of the sky light to a believable balance. (People a stop or more under
and lake at the correct exposure for wide shots. Close ups should be up to exposure
with the outside a bit hot.)
We need two opposing condo balconies with boats and a marina background. We
built only the balconies on parallels and put our actors on them. Later just
the sail of a sailboat was dollied by a restaurant window with water in the
distance. The metal balcony railings were used before and modified many times
We needed a bedroom with a spectacular ocean cliff view. We couldn't find such
as real location. We cantilevered a small set over a cliff and lit it with just
diffusion over the top. The view through the window was great and lighting balance
easy. A bit darker for wide shots inside and a bit brighter outside for closeups.
Where the window didn't show we used full exposure.
We needed a musician on a rooftop with city background. Vent pipes, TV aerials,
a roof access door and parapet on a hill down town worked. We built fire escapes
with small pieces of wall too.
When the right actor warned us he was acrophobic we build a fake parapet so
he wasn't right next to the real edge of the roof.
We needed a New England beach house. A 10-foot corner of a clapboard house flat
with window, some drift fence, grass tuffs and the right props was enough on
a Malibu, California Beach.
Shooting on golf courses and cemeteries in Los Angeles is not easy. Griffith
Park and the right props always sufficed.
Phone booths are rarely in the right place and some phone companies supply them
free. ATM machines can be faked. Portable parking meters are in many prop houses.
Unusual signs usually have to be made.
For a kid riding a bike on the side of a brick wall and another kid watching
on a bench, a wall was built almost flat to the ground and the watching kid
on his back.
Looking at a lot of pictures and location stills will give you ideas of just
how much you need to make a believable shot.
We had our own teeter-totter and swing to put wherever needed. We built a picnic
table out of old planks that aged by storing outside. A portable drinking fountain
worked over and over. Many props can be rented, but often they are not naturally
aged. For food shots we had piles of stone slabs, aged cutting blocks, shiny
surfaces etc. A piece of an old oak log worked over and over. Many props can
be stored outside and improve with time and weather.
© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.