Principal cinematographer (and favored colleague!) Cynthia Pushek, ASC did a magnificent job shooting this period series for Amazon. Unfortunately, it wasn’t renewed beyond its first season, and that was a loss for everyone because the show was terrific. My part in it was negligible – just a few days of additional photography under the direction of the fabulous Scott Winant.
The accompanying clip is an example of how to shoot a steamy love scene while retaining both good taste and discretion.
The technique should be obvious to all: backlight! We used two cameras; keeping both on the same axis made the task quite simple. The location wasn’t a set – it was an actual room in the Roslyn Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. I would like to have gotten the lighting units into a better position a bit further away from the action, but the effect works pretty well as is. They’re motivated by the table lamp that appears in many of the shots. Any lighting that appears outside the window on the street was purely coincidental; I wasn’t allowed to put up anything of our own.
Only two 650W Tweenies were used, both placed as high as I could get them on the opposite side of the camera axis. Both were wired through dimmers that allowed me to shift their intensity at will according to what each lens was recording at a given moment.
This scene works not because of what you see. It works because of what you think you see – but don’t!