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  • Writer's pictureKonstantin Freyer

The 3-Minute Setup on '97 Minutes'

Jonathan Rhys Meyers on the plane set in 97 Minutes
Jonathan Rhys Meyers on the plane set in 97 Minutes

Maximizing Time and Light

On the set of '97 Minutes', starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, efficiency was key, especially during the airplane sequences. We developed a swift method for setting up these scenes, which we aptly named the '3 Minute Setup'. This approach proved invaluable for creating an impactful visual narrative within the constraints of an airplane environment.

Utilizing Ambient LED Lights

Our setup capitalized on the airplane's existing LED lights, which offered the versatility needed for quick adjustments. My gaffer, Tom Nowell, deftly controlled these lights, dimming them to our aesthetic preference, ensuring that each scene with Jonathan maintained consistency and mood without the need for extensive setups.

Negative Fill for Dramatic Effect

To sculpt the light around Jonathan and add cinematic contrast, we introduced a simple yet effective technique: using a large piece of black cloth overhead. This negative fill was crucial in softening the ambient light, providing a subtle shadow play across his face, and enhancing the narrative tension.

Sculpting with Side Light

The final touch was the Nanlux 1200 Dyno, used to inject a side/backlight. This not only sculpted Jonathan out from the background but also added a cinematic quality to the shot, echoing the dramatic tension of the scene.

Lighting diagram


The '3 Minute Setup' is a testament to the ingenuity required in filmmaking. It's about making every second count, using what's available, and still achieving that cinematic look. For more on how we make these quick setups work, go here.

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