Why horror films are good debut films

Lighting is great and can really bring out meaning in a scene. But what happens if you want to make a film and have a limited budget? Do you just blow it all on a set of lights?

This is one of the dilemmas facing amateur filmmakers. You want to make a good debut film, but don’t have the money to buy all the ideal equipment. You’re just going to have to improvise.

The budget available does affect the kind of film that is made, to state the obvious. If you have a small budget, you can’t really make an action film with lots of explosions.

Unless you take a close up of a lighter, film a group of people jumping in the air, and have a loudspeaker.

You need to be creative.

Many film makers start out doing horror films as a debut. Why?

Remember that lighting is used to create three-dimensional width on a two-dimensional screen. A lack of fill lighting creates a two-dimensional look which looks unnatural.

Ever wonder why, when you watch the news on screen, or presenters on programmes, they are always shot from the side, rather than head on? It is because if that happened, they would look flat on our screens. Filming from the side creates a three-dimensional look without the need of much additional fill lighting.

Lack of fill lighting creates an unnatural look. Which is perfect for horror films.

But that still doesn’t mean you don’t need to be creative. Here are some ways you can be inventive with lights in typical horror scenes:

To create a scene of a spooky forest or wood, hang a light overhead and let it shine down. This mimics the natural moonlight. Add some dry ice for suspense.

To create an evil silhouette, place the light source behind the subject rather than the front. The glare from the back causes unease, the lack of definition of the subject’s face amplifies the uncertainty.

Hiding in a closet? Cut up some cardboard and again shine the light from behind. Do everything the people at film school tell you not to do in a typical scene!