How we shot 35 – a shot horror movie
We just shot 35 — a one-minute horror movie. While the movie is only one minute, there are three different scenes in there, each with its own setup and motivation, and I would love to break them down. But first, go watch the video. It’s only one minute, but still. Spoilers. Actually, let me put the actual video at the beginning of the BTS.
35 is a short visual story about a guy who finds a coat with a key. The key says 35, and our hero goes to door 35 to find out what’s behind the door. Clearly, something menacing. When he engages with the door, the door opens and reveals what’s inside.
This is not a big production, and we used everything in our arsenal to make the story work. We shot the film in an apartment home, using the storage units as our set. Here is a quick breakdown of the scenes.
The corridor scene
In our short segment, the hero is curious about a key he finds in his jacket. It has a note attached that says 35. At the end, the door engages with our hero, but right from the start, we wanted to show that there is something or someone who is watching our hero’s every step.
We did this with a set of Nanlite Pavotube II 30C that we hooked up to the pipes in the ceiling. We then used the Nanlink app to control the sequence of the lights and make them follow our hero as he walked down the corridor. It took a little bit of practice, but after a few tests, we got the cadence right.
To avoid spills, we DIYed some flags with a few corrugated boards and some gaff tape. Using a light that weighs so little, and is self-powered really made my life easier. I can not imagine how hard setting a scene like this must have been before LEDs became so available.
Looking at the door
When our hero gets to the door, you know that something is wrong, and someone (or something) is waiting there. We looked for a door that could say something about what’s inside and used a door with venting slits.
When Lukash tries to open the door, the thing in the room wakens. And a sweep of red light is coming through the venting slits. We added a bit of smoke to create some volumetric light, so we could see the rays coming from the inside. Moving the light behind the slits is just what gives you that off feeling. And here again, using such a big light source that is handheld was godsent.
And the thing in the door looks back
At the sad end of the story, the door opens, and our poor hero finds the thing that was behind the door. Much to his horror, the door opens on its own. To do that, we flagged the light with another corrugated board and slowly revealed the light across our hero’s face.
The gear we used
- Camera: Sony FX3
- Lens: SIRUI Venus 50mm T2.9 1.6x Full-Frame Anamorphic Lens
- Lights: Nanlite Pavotube II 30C
- Sticks: SmallRig Heavy Duty Tripod
Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.