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  • Writer's pictureKonstantin Freyer

Embracing the Moonlight: The Art of Single Source Lighting in '97 Minutes'

Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the cockpit in 97 Minutes
Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the cockpit in 97 Minutes

The Power of One Light

On the set of the thriller '97 Minutes', I embraced the minimalist philosophy of using as few lighting fixtures as possible. The simplicity of single source lighting not only aids in creating a more natural look but also eliminates the complications of unwanted double shadows, which can distract from the story's intent.

Film Noir: A Nod to the Classics

My admiration for film noir, the genre that pioneered the dramatic and directional use of light and shadow, is no secret. It's an aesthetic that has influenced my approach as a cinematographer, where light is not just illumination but a character in its own right, shaping scenes with a stark contrast and a suggestion of mystery.

Side shot of Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the cockpit in 97 Minutes
Side shot of Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the cockpit in 97 Minutes

Moonlight in an Airplane: Crafting the Scene

For a pivotal scene in '97 Minutes', set within the confines of an airplane, the challenge was to create the illusion of moonlight as the sole external light source. To achieve this, I used the Nanlux Evoke 1200, an exceptionally versatile light, which I shot through a 4x4 frame with a round cutout. This setup mimicked the look of a full moon's glow, casting a cool and gentle light that both reveals and conceals, much like the moon itself.

The Result: A Singular Vision

The effect was exactly what I envisioned: a single, coherent light source evoking the full moon, enveloping the scene in an eerie yet beautiful glow. This technique allowed for deeper shadows and heightened tension, crucial elements in any thriller and reminiscent of the moody ambiance of classic film noir.

Lighting diagram of the single source setup for the cockpit scene in 97 Minutes
Lighting diagram


As a cinematographer, my goal is to tell stories through the lens of light. '97 Minutes' is a testament to the power of single source lighting and its ability to transport viewers into the story's universe. For more insights into my lighting techniques and cinematography work, go here.

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