The danger of giving geeks like myself access to streaming media like Netflix is we spend way too much time watching science fiction, horror, and cartoons. However the result is we feed our already over active imagination and the start wanting to create art based off what we have seen. Which is exactly what got me wanting to do a film noir shoot. I had been binge watching Star Trek The Next Generation. There were several episodes in the first two seasons where Captain Picard, played by Patrick Stewart, would be on the holodeck acting out a pulp fiction character called Dixon Hill. As I was watching I got to noticing the lighting that they used. The film noir look is strong shadows with sharp edges. The more I watched the more I wanted to shoot a film noir set. I also wanted to do more than just take a few random portraits, I wanted to create a story around the pictures.
To get started I turned to the best casting source for fun projects, Facebook. I started with friends and models that I have worked with in the past then filled out the cast with a post on Facebook. The best way to coordinate this is to create a group message or a private group to discuss plans and schedules. Since this is a fun project we wanted to keep cost low so for costuming everyone headed out to thrift shops to purchase props and wardrobe. All total the average spent was $20 or less. I had a little higher cost since I had to rent the venue, but still my total cost was less than $100.
In our area we have an old elementary school that has been turned into a cultural art center. It is an old building with lots of character so I knew it would be a great place to set up the shoot. I rented what was an old classroom which would be where most of the shots were created. Since we shot after hours I also had access to a dance hall and foyer for some of the images. Prior to arrival I had a rough layout of what I wanted to shoot but I was open and looking for things I might not have thought of prior to starting. Such as the dance scene and the scene in the backroom were all conceived after walking around the location.
Each person played a character which had a brief bio. The character’s names came from characters and actor’s names that had been in or worked on the old Shadow series. I created an outline of a story which involved the evil Madame Sunsun manipulating people and events in order to steal a new rocket formula from Dr. Maria Farrow. Of course being film noir somebody had to die so we choose Farrow’s husband Isaac. All of this had to be modified as we went because things didn’t go as planned.
For example the model who had been set to play Dr. Farrow had to cancel at the last minute so I spent the morning of the shoot looking for a replacement. I had originally planned for Detective Cranston to be murdered and his partner make the arrest but a another cancellation altered that plan. It doesn’t matter if it is a shoot for fun or a paying job, you got to be flexible and not let frustration get the better of you. You have to keep your end goal in mind and just solve the problems as they arrive.
In the end we all had a great time and produced some fun images.