la femis 1
Mar. 8, 2019

ARRI sponsors world renowned film school, La Fémis in Paris

Equipment from ARRI Lighting helped to illuminate several student projects at the famous Parisienne film school.

Mar. 8, 2019

Located in the former Pathe Studios in Paris, France, La Fémis has been training the next generation of French and foreign filmmakers since 1944. Originally organized under the name L'Institut des hautes études cinématographiques ("Institute for Advanced Cinematographic Studies"), the school is now a public establishment under the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture and Communication and is officially known as Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Métiers de l’Image et du Son (National Higher School of Image and Sound Professions).

Since this renowned institution’s inception, La Fémis has been committed to training students on the various disciplines of film: directing, cinematography, producing, screenwriting, editing, sound production, production design, continuity, distribution, and cinema management. Famous alumni include names such as Francois Ozon, Louis Malle and Patrice Leconte. The school has also set forth several missions they seek to fulfill. One states to “provide, in liaison with the professional industry, initial and continuous education and training in the disciplines of film, television and all other forms of communication and audiovisual expression, and confer a degree qualification.” Another mentions to “design, draft, produce, publish and distribute educational, artistic, technical and scientific documents concerning the disciplines in the cinematography and sound production sectors, in particular the audiovisual works and documents produced by students during their training at La Fémis.” For both of these institutional goals, ARRI was able to step in and lend a hand.

Fostering the next generation of filmmaking talent has long been a part of ARRI’s DNA. Non-profit educational activities like product loans, product/technology presentations, trainings, new product testing and sponsorship/patronage is an important topic for ARRI. In order to support 3rd year graduate students on their short films, ARRI Lighting in France and La Fémis agreed on a sponsorship package that would best aid in the student’s projects. Last October, ARRI supported a lighting workshop at La Fémis to provide students with an in-depth look into the exciting world of ARRI Lighting. And from December 3 to 21, 2018 and January 8 to 25, 2019, ARRI Lighting provided the school with various fixtures and kits on loan: 8 SkyPanels S60-C, 1 Softbank I Plus Lighting Kit, 1 Softbank IV Plus Kit, 2 L-Series L5-C, 2 L-Series L7-C, 2 L-Series L10-C, 2 ARRILITE 750 Plus, 2 ARRILITE 2000 Plus, 1 M-Series M40, and 1 M-Series M18 including electronic ballasts.

The school regulates that the sponsoring company can, under no circumstances, have an influence on the activity of training of La Fémis both in its contents (intellectual, artistic, scientific, technical) and as regards to the participants who could be involved.

ARRI had the good fortune to speak with two 3rd year students, Margot Besson and Pauline Doméjean about their film projects and their experiences with the provided equipment. Excerpts of these interviews have been included below.

ARRI speaks with Margot Besson:

Could you tell us about your film and your role during production?
The story takes place in 2038, in a world where, following to an ecological disaster all fish have disappeared. I worked as a DP for my third-year exam at La Fémis. This film was shot in a studio at La Fémis.

Could you describe the atmosphere you were trying to create for the film?
There were basically two sets: a covered market and the interior of an abandoned shop which is also the main character’s (Belthazor) apartment. I imagined a bluish and even stark atmosphere in Belthazor's apartment with rather bright colors. On the street, however, I wanted a warmer and softer atmosphere in order to define the spaces by using contrasting color palettes. The idea was that the hot spots from the outside should be reflected in the indoor sequences. This kept the covered market alive even when we were inside the apartment. 

How did ARRI lights help you achieve the effect you wanted?
I was able to work with eight SkyPanels on loan from ARRI. I lit the corridor of the covered market with three SkyPanels passing through a spinnaker. This created a very soft and diffused light, which corresponded to the overcast weather I imagined. I wanted to find moving light elements that make it possible to bring the shots to life, such as passing a ray of sunlight at a precise moment, that accompanies the narrative, as if the clouds were coming out to let a ray pierce, so that the light would not be frozen. We also worked with several L-Series fixtures (L5-C, L7-C, and L10-C) from ARRI. The Fresnel characteristics of the L-Series allowed me to obtain a very direct light and marked shadows, which set-up this type of effect beautifully.

Were there any other benefits to using ARRI lights?
The fact that all the luminaries came from ARRI made it possible to find, very precisely, the same hues, luminance, and color density on the different fixtures. This enabled us to harmonize the light and it was a significant time-saving measure during the shoot.

Was there a particular scene that stands out in your mind?
Part of the fallout of this ecological disaster is that all the fish have disappeared. A large part of the film involves a show that the main character presents to a group of children. Belthazor begins by unrolling a gyotakus (a Japanese technique that consists of obtaining fish prints by dipping them in ink). He then illuminates his gyotakus by varying the intensity and color of the light to bring his story to life. To make this effect possible, I used an L5-C luminaire, which was ideal to illuminate the gyotakus. Indeed, it allowed me to vary the colorimetry of the light very easily. The wide range of different colors and the ability to change the color density allowed me to achieve the look the director, Pierre, wanted to the best of my ability.

ARRI speaks with Pauline Doméjean:

Could you tell us about the film you worked on and your role during production?
As part of my third year of study at La Fémis, I was a DP on the film “Dulpokanova” by Miao Yu, a Chinese student in my class of directors. We shot in a studio in a purpose-built setting, a unique one: a hotel breakfast room. The story takes place in an unidentified country, during an unidentified period. Three young girls wait for their plane that will take them to a heavenly destination, they are in the breakfast room of their hotel, chatting, eating. Through this film, the director wants to show the discomforts of contemporary life, a world marked by individualism, hyper-connection, the misuse of images, the overwhelming amount of information, and the absence of self in one’s own life.

How did the set and space affect your choice of light?
To illuminate this large set, I had the opportunity to use 9 SkyPanels S60-C, a M-Series M18 Daylight set, and LED Fresnels from the L-Series (L5, L7, and L10) all provided by ARRI. The set area was in the shape of an arc of a circle to suggest a larger space than the one we had. The idea was to create a false circle, playing on a change of scenery in a single space: one being the buffet space, the other the space with the dining tables. There was no entrance and no natural light to be seen on set, so we used a ceiling light that created a diffused and cold light. This was embellished with wall lights that marked warmer spot lights and back-lit openings that brought contrast to the decor. In the middle of the scene, there was also a kind of "central island" that radiated some very diffused light.

How did ARRI lights help you achieve the effect you wanted?
Given the very large area to be illuminated, I used five SkyPanels placed on rig above the set. Each was equipped with a full diffusion frame and skirts to create soft ceiling lights for the entire set space without touching the walls or the table on which the three girls were seated. I illuminated the table with standing lampheads that could change position between each shot. The SkyPanels allowed me to reach a general level that was powerful and diffuse enough for the whole shoot. I was also able to regulate the balance of colors between each light.

Three other SkyPanels came in very handy to light large 4x4 bounce canvases that emphasized the side of the set in front of the girls' table. The flexibility of these lights allowed me to adjust the intensity very quickly. The M18 with barndoors was installed on the other side of the set to create a more directive and powerful face light accent on the three actresses. I also placed two L-Series L10-C lampheads in the central island behind a spinnaker cloth. Once again, the use of these LED lights allowed me the comfort of being able to change the intensity easily and quickly while ensuring that the tint was unchanged.

Was there any particular attribute of the ARRI lights that was especially helpful on set?
One of the SkyPanels was used in a variety of tasks; its function changed according to the shot. We used it to level out the overall lighting on set and we also used it to highlight certain areas or subjects when needed. The versatility of this fixture was extremely useful. It allowed us to create powerful direct beams or very soft nuances.

For the more directive and warm touches on the set, I used the L5-C and L7-C Fresnels, which were ideal to precisely illuminate a decorative element and create well marked shadows. Moreover, I could easily warm up their color temperature if needed. 

It was very important in this film to maintain very precise shades, whether in the color temperature or in the green-magenta balance. The ARRI LED luminaires were all equally balanced, so I was able to base my camera work around them and only had to adjust the few other small sources that I added. This saved us a huge amount of time in prelighting and this precision was perfectly in line with the aesthetic vision of the film director Miao. The speed and discretion of the lighting adjustments also was a comfort to have during the shooting and was very much appreciated by the whole team.

Opening Image: On the set of student film “Dulpokanova” by Miao Yu

Photos: La Femis©2019

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