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Recreating a Rembrandt

A few months ago I had the opportunity to recreate a painting of my choosing on 35mm. It was an amazing learning experience, so I thought I would break-down what I did for anyone who is interested. LET'S GET TO IT!

Before choosing a painting, I paired with the super talented production designer, Alexis Vergara. We tossed around some ideas and different painting to try, but decided on a painting by Rembrandt called 'The Holy Family by Night'. The painting was completed between the years of 1642 and 1648 using oil paints. The reason I was drawn to this painting was because the light itself was the main subject of the piece. It looked to be a single candle source, which I knew would be a huge challenge to recreate on 400ASA film stock.

Alexis did an amazing job with the build of the set within the short time period we had. The colors were near perfect as well as the dimensions and proportions of the set.

Onto the cinematography stuff!

Camera: Panavision Millenium Gold II

Lens: 50mm Ultra Speed @T4.0

Stock: Kodak 500T 5219 (400')

I always like to approach lighting with an extremely simple mindset, and build from there. This means that I'm always trying my hardest to use the most appropriate fixture to recreate whatever we are trying to mimic. The beauty and magic with cinematography is that once that light is set in place, we have the ability to artfully adjust everything about that light and its surroundings.

Rather than shooting light over walls and trying to shape and fake the candlelight, I figured we should try and create our own candle that could live in the set and give us enough light to expose our shot.

Our main source was a bare bulb from a tweenie (650w). This got us pretty darn close. We added some small tungsten dedos and peppers to create some more prominent splashes on the baby and the right wall (frame right) and decorations. This is what our little hidden candle looked like without the sources on it:

We gelled everything with CTS and added a slight dimmed flicker to everything to make it look like candlelight. Included in the dimming was was our fill, which as a mighty (5k) shot into a 8x4 bounce directly behind camera. We wasted some of the light into the barn doors until we got the desired amount.

Simple simple simple.

I do wish I got the color more correct and the texture on the walls was heavier, otherwise I am happy with the results.

Onto the next one!

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