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BREAKING THROUGH part 3: Capturing The Imagination

In the previous post, I discussed a little about what it took to actually design and create the imagery for ‘Breakthrough’. In this post I’ll delve a little into the actual filming process.

Film making is expensive. Even short films like ‘Breakthrough’ have been known to tally in excess of $100, 000. But as you know, my budget was like, you know, zero. I never believed in the limitations of creativity; If you can dream it, you can make it…well in an ideal world anyway. As a result I had to find alternate means of shooting. Alternate tools.

A good majority of ‘Breakthrough’ would have to take place in spaces that existed only in my imagination (as discussed in part 3). My character however, was not computer generated. So, I would have to place her into this fantasy world. There are generally two ways of accomplishing this: 1, you spend untold heaps of cash and actually build the sets to film against. 2, shoot against a green or blue backdrop which you can digitally remove later and place your make-believe world in its stead. If you had a large enough budget you probably opt to blend the two for best results, but the latter is the cheaper of the two options.

So, to start I bought a single sheet of 6 x 9 piece of green screen fabric; This stuff is relatively cheap and can be found on Amazon from various providers (Figure 1). Now the most important part of working with enviroments that don’t exist is the lighting. You must try your best to light the scene to match as closely as possible the environment you’ll be placing the character in.


Figure 1: the black and white squares are track markers I made out of paper.

Lighting equipment, like everything else relating to film, is very expensive. Ideally you would purchase a 3 or 5 point lighting system (Figur 2). But that wasn’t really an option so I made my own. Below is an example of the light box I created to replicate the effect of an actual lighting system. In this instance used cardboard boxes wrapped with aluminum foil on the insides to create an optimum enviroments for the light to be properly focused. Something similar was done for the hologram light. (Figure 3)


Figure 2: curtasy of


Figure 3: note that only 2 screen lights and the hologram lights were used. This may create additional work in post.

When doing something of this calibre with a budget this low, it’s important to film with someone who is readily available. This is due to the fact that you would probably shoot something that you think looks good in your lens, but once you get to post-production, it doesn’t work and you’ll have to reshoot once you’ve adjusted your setup. In my case I used a close friend of mine as the protagonist; a paid actress would probably have run up my bill.

Using my ‘shoot and reshoot method’, I was able to redo shots through the entire length of the production.

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