Filmmaking tips for shooting in small spaces

By: Kelly | Last updated February 15, 2019
video editing software man shooting filming camera

A lot of times we are quick to judge someone’s work and we strive to identify all possible flaws with it. When watching a movie, we all suddenly turn into art critics who tax everything starting with the cast, storyline and every other little aspect involved. What we don’t know and appreciate though is the amount of work, time and dedication an entire crew put in for such a production to materialize.

Shooting a movie is a monumental task that requires myriad of skills, knowledge and experience. Every little detail matters and filming crews have to cope with lots of problems and overcome a lot of obstacles.

In this article we’re going to tackle the issue of small spaces and how a filmmaker should approach it. Whether you just want to make a personal video or you are an indie film maker, you might find these tips useful:

  • Use a full-frame camera. This way you’ll reduce the space between your camera and whatever/whoever you are filming. Examples of such choices on the market: Nikon D750, Canon 5D, Sony a7R and others
  • Use proper lighting: one of the biggest issues with shooting in a small space is the fact that you can’t fit your lighting gear, with all its cables, long stands, etc. That’s why you should use LED lights instead, any other options that can be adapted to tight spaces and also the natural light with additional bounce boards. Make the best of your environment and learn to be versatile
  • Try to use wide-angle lenses and to shoot wide angles. Wide-angle lenses are very helpful in creating a depth illusion and expanding your space. Telephoto lenses on the other hand will obtain the opposite, compressing space
  • Have the actors move toward and away from the camera. This will also create the impression of a deeper space
  • For really small spaces you can try to use a mirror. Place a mirror on a wall and film into the mirror. This way you are basically doubling the distance from the actor. You can later edit the video and flip back the image
  • Shoot from outside. This trick is especially used by film school students. If you have to film indoors, you can try to actually bring the camera outside and shoot through an open door or window and zoom in. It is a creative tip that requires some preparation, imagination and a keen eye, but it can bring you some pleasant results
  • Use brighter objects/subjects in the foreground and the darker ones in the background. Dress your actors in bright outfits and place them against dark backgrounds, to create more depth. The same applies to colors. Warmer colors should be used in the foreground and the cooler ones in the background.
By: Kelly | Last updated February 15, 2019