Month: January 2011

An extra for War Horse!

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War Horse Theatrical Poster
War Horse Theatrical Poster

Just for a bit of fun, I took a week’s work as an extra for War Horse, when it was shooting in Castle Coombe, just down the road.  If ever there was evidence of the mood of the set being set by the director, this was it.  A dozen horses, couple of hundred extras, changeable weather – Spirlberg was up against it, but was always calm and cheerful.  This rubbed off on the whole crew, making for a surprisingly calm set considering a quick tally suggests the shoot was costing in the region of £250k/day!

Yes cold, yes tiring, yes slow, but great to see the master at work first hand.  Some production notes –

  • 60kW of lighting – 3@18kW, 1@6kW means you can even out the changeable sun/cloud pretty well.  And 18kW/head means you can dry out pretty sharpish if you get damp.
  • Equestrian Make-up is a real job I’d never considered
  • Spielberg/Kaminski create visual depth in scenes by throwing plenty of extras into the background of shots, but also always using smoke/haze in shots to interact with the lights.  This is something often missing in British productions (with less money, admittedly), lighting in depth.  A bit of haze wafted around shows off what lighting the DoP has set, and adds such depth to a scene.
  • Kaminski almost exclusively used multi-length lenses, not primes.  A good zoom lens makes for fast setups whilst presenting enough light to the sensor.