This scene – an exchange between star Matt Dillon and his family in their living room – is representative of most of The Flamingo Kid. Classically staged and photographed with an unobtrusive camera, it gives the actors room to move around and helps create the warm, familial atmosphere of a time gone by.
The movie was shot on two different negatives, both manufactured by Eastman Kodak. For daytime exteriors we used 5247 (ASA 125 under tungsten light; ASA 80 with an 85 filter in daylight); interiors and night exteriors called on 5294 (ASA 400 under tungsten; ASA 320 in daylight with an 85). The second stock was relatively new at the time and we all thought it was an incredible leap forward in terms of speed. Little did we know what marvels of light sensitivity digital sensors would be bringing in just a few short years…
Nonetheless, cinematographer James A. Contner does an outstanding job of making it seem like the practical fixtures dotting the set were doing all the work. I assure you, they were not. We tackled quite a few scenes in this space and each time he made a painstaking effort to create the proper mood. For the most part, he leaned toward harder sources – fresnels fired through some sort of light diffusion – and used nets and flags to control and shape the light. That’s not an easy thing to do and has become something of a forgotten art. The result is wonderful, especially as it’s witnessed within the context of this upbeat comedy.
Note well: The lighting diagram does not match what you see in the clip; instead it illustrates a similar lighting scheme from another scene on the same set.