Lighting A Car Interior

While DP'ing a new short with my good friend and director Nick Chavez we faced a few challenges of shooting car interior scenes in the middle of the night and in the rain.  First off shooting anything in the rain complicates things a bit and makes lighting much more difficult.  


My thoughts and ideas on lighting are just my opinion and what I think looks good.  There is always room to explore new lighting practices and I don't ever believe there is one right way to light any scene. With that being said, I don't have any formal schooling so most of my lighting practices come from trial and error and watching many other talented DP's closely, which I highly suggest everyone do.  

When approaching any scene I always try and use motivated light.  I never really feel the need to add light to a scene that would not naturally already be there.  When lighting this car interior scene the first thought was to park the car under a streetlamp to use as the key, and find a street that was well lit with practicals lights the from homes.  By the time we got to filming this scene it was pouring rain in the middle of the night with most of the practical home lights being out and not enough light from the street lights.  

We were finishing up at one of the home locations and decided to pull the car into the driveway and light the interior of the car by bouncing light from inside the garage.  The house had a few practicals which gave us the look of a car parked in the street with light from a streetlamp. 


From inside the garage we used an ARRI T1 with a plus green & 1/4 ctb gel, bounced off a 4x4 white bounce.  Practical lights were left on inside the house and we placed some ND on the porch light to bring it down a bit.  

I like to keep my lighting set ups simple allowing for a good amount of contrast from light to dark in my shots.  For this film we were going for a cold dark feel to create a feeling of loneliness during the dialog scenes.