As he developed his concepts for Once Bitten… director Pete Tomkies knew that he was creating himself a specific set of challenges. The film takes place in a hotel room on a stormy night and the major lighting special effects challenge was lightning.
Pete said: “My Rotolight RL48s are my go to source when I need catchlight or to hide some fill in a small space on set so I was familiar with the larger lights company’s product range. The CineSFX™ features on the Anova and Neo seemed perfect for what we needed and when I discussed it with Mat (cinematographer Mat Johns) he was as keen as me to have the opportunity to work with the lights”.
“When we contacted Calumet Manchester to enquire about renting the kits we needed they told us they had just taken delivery of then (then) new AEOS lights so we added those as well – I think we were the first people to rent them out as the box arrived still sealed!”
The Rotolight kit on the Once Bitten… set was:
- 2 x Anova Pro
- 2 x AEOS
- 2 x Neo
Once Bitten… was filmed on a purpose built set which utilised a room inside a former 1830s railway coal yard building. Rather than looking out onto 1980s New York the window for the hotel room set was actually internal which gave cinematographer Mat Johns great scope for lighting the room from outside. “My challenge to Mat was to capture a film noir look – but in colour” Pete said.
Both of the Anova Pro lights were placed outside the room and gelled with CTB to give a deep blue night time hue. The Anovas were counterpointed with an Arri 300W tungsten fresnel light gelled red to simulate the glow from a hotel sign on the wall outside. When lightning was needed against the window the CTB was removed from one of the lights and its CineSFX™ lightning feature was triggered.
“The soft light from the Anovas worked perfectly with the hard light from the Arri Fresnel” said Pete. “As well as the blue and red accents on the actors and the room we also achieved some fabulous pinks and purples where the two colours blended. The mood board I had prepared for Mat featured a lot of images from 1980s horror films, in particular From Beyond (1982) and Creepshow. The colour palette he blended on set was better than I could ever have hoped for and I can’t wait to share the film with audiences”.
Where more directed lightning was needed inside the hotel room the AEOS were used because of their output power but also their light weight and portability. Space was at a premium in the hotel room on the set so camera assistant Sam Ridgway simply held the AEOS and trigger the CineSFX™ lightning. This allowed for additional allowed for flexibility in the lighting set, saving time as well as space and avoided the need for another light stand.
Throughout Once Bitten… the main character Martha Swales (played by Lauren Ashley Carter) watches a TV show. To add the glow of a TV into the lighting mix on Martha’s face the CineSFX™ TV feature was used on one of the Neo lights to add a subtle flicker.
Both the Neo and AEOS lights were also used as accent lights at times, gelled to match either the red or blue sources from outside the window as required. A Kinoflo 4 bank fixture was wall mounted high up at each end of the room to provide ambient light and again the output from the Rotolights blended perfectly.
“I had strong sense of the images I wanted for Once Bitten… from the moment I read the script but like most indie films Once Bitten… was shot on a micro budget” Pete said. “Without the luxury of a large crew we needed to use lighting kit that could rely on to provide the lighting FX we needed without the need for additional technicians. The Rotolights all performed flawlessly on set and I am looking forward to using them again in the future”.