Last year, DP Vernon Layton spent a couple of months in Cuba shooting Day Of The Flowers which is released this weekend.
As you may know, Vernon is a close friend who shot ‘Gone Fishing’. I asked him to share his experiences while shooting in a tropical, hot and humid environment. Of course, insect repellent, sun hats and sun block and obvious essentials, but what else can you expect?
- Don’t underestimate the heat and humidity. Shooting interiors can be a killer as there is no air con (for sound). It has a debilitating effect on the crew, and in particular the actors.
- Nothing sticks to anything because of the humidity. Try and use local crew who will have experience with this and offer solutions.
- Weather in EXTREMELY changeable throughout the day making it hard to get a full days shoot with consistent environmental conditions.
- Shooting at midday is tough as the light is very hard and directly above. Fill lighting will be needed (bounce). Alternatively, shooting in the shade such as underneath trees can help.
- Don’t be afraid of ‘pulling stops’ during a shot – you might need to do this as you may be going between extremes of lighting.
- Catering is an issue and food poisoning is a real possibility because of the environment. Prepare for losing your crews to sporadic stomach upsets. Of course, the locals are used to this and immune.
- Exacerbating the food poisoning are the loos, which can be a real problem, especially if they have just been visited by unwell crews.
- Shooting digital in this heat and humidity could be a challenge, one reason why DOF was shot on film.
- Drawing from locals for your crew may mean you have a small talent pool to draw from, but their experience is invaluable. You will almost certainly need to work with local film bodies who may drag their heels due to paperwork and politics etc. Permits and clearances may need to be arranged and shooting on the hoof can be more challenging than you might expect. Overall thought, locals (both the people on the streets, local entrepreneurs and government agencies) do enjoy and welcome the presence of a film crew and can be hugely supportive.
- BUT… all the hardships are worth it. Shooting in more extreme locations will create a world for your story that is rich in a way that audiences might not expect. Production design is enhanced by not having to constantly ‘create’ a world in every shot as what’s in the background is already compelling.
If you get a chance to see Day Of The Flowers, I urge you to do so as it’s a great example of a British indie picture that is also a real crowd pleaser. It’s showing across the country in Cineworld and you can check if its screening near you HERE.
And they have a Facebook page HERE.
Onwards and upwards!