That's not a joke, it's actually the setup of the play Traveling Light by Lindsay Harris-Friel (aka ms_violet) which I saw a few years ago while it was being workshopped and now it's in full blown production in Philly, directed by Liam Castellan (link is to a video of Liam playing Malvolio in the 12th Night, which is funny & you should watch it), opening at the Adrianne Theater on Friday, September 6th 2013.
The premise of the play is that the Beatles hired Orton (strangely brutally murdered at the peak of his talent author of "What the Butler Saw") to write a play for them and for various reasons, it's rejected. Orton and Epstein end up meeting in a cemetery and have the sort of epic conversation you'd expect two such great minds to have. It's a difficult thing to pull off, because first you have to be able to think great thoughts and then you have to think great thoughts like other people would think great thoughts.
Trillian and I loved the play when we saw it and I'm super happy that I got to work on the publicity photos for it.
When Lindsay called to ask if I knew of any epic cemeteries I was happy to suggest Mount Moriah and its caretakers were super helpful, especially Ed Snyder who runs The Cemetery Traveler blog.
We drove into the cemetery and up a side road which ended in a forest with stones in it. There was a perfectly secluded spot (the graveyard itself is very secluded, but I wanted a landscape that suggested intimacy, a place where someone could have a private conversation, so some overgrowth and trees were in the cards for us.)
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You can see from Lindsay's behind the scenes photos that it's actually daylight when we shot this, which meant that I needed an initial exposure high enough to be completely black (which was about 1/160th of a second at f8 or f11) and then to fill in the things I wanted lit with flash. There are two flashes here, one a gridded spot on the two guys in front (Bob Stineman as Brian Epstein, Doug Greene as Joe Orton) and a second flash being held by Kyra Baker (as the police officer) in lieu of a flash light. (Why in lieu of a flash light? Because the flash has variable power and a flashlight would have been a constant we would have had to work around to make a proper beam.) So Kyra's light is coming from the side of the granite monument (Really? Yes. We're using a grave marker as a reflector) and the two guys are lit by the gridded spot. If you're wondering, I shot it with a Panasonic GX1 (currently selling for $249 on amazon.com) and the 40mm f 1.7 pancake lens. Mostly because I'm still trying to force the Micro Four Thirds format into working for me as a pro system.)
Photo by Lindsay, click to enlarge
The result looks a bit theatrical from the gridded spot light on their faces, which may or may not be desirable, depending on how they ultimately decide to go with the advertising. So I also did a more realistic version so there would be options. The play takes place (I may be paraphrasing) "When it is too late to be night but too early to be morning"). In the second one, Bob and Doug (who'd never heard of Bob and Doug McKenzie -- I'm dating myself I guess) are lit by the ambient light which I toned down enough with the exposure that it looks duskish.
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We did a vertical and a horizontal, one for post cards the other for a poster. The setup on this is one gridded spot on the talent set at about 1/32nd power and one bare flash raking across the tomb in the back also at about 1/32nd power just to let it pop out at little. I had to fight myself, wanting to put a third flash behind them to give them a little rim light and pop them out of the background but would have created one of those "I can buy that their faces are lit up by a street light or car's headlights, but where is that other light coming from?" paradoxes that I always hate when I notice in movies. So ... all pretty simple lighting setups.
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Lindsay blogs behind the scenes here.
The Facebook invite for the play is here.
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