Film & TV Lighting

Shaun Conway – Gaffer

mad max

“For me, the output colour temperature is perfect, the compact size is ideal, the housing is rugged, and the control is great”

Shaun Conway has traveled all over the world experiencing some physically challenging shoots. He has worked as a main unit Gaffer on international films, TV shows and commercials. His credits include The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, The Great Gatsby and Hacksaw Ridge.

Starting his career at a Sydney film studio in the early 1980s, he worked across all departments eventually becoming the in-house Gaffer. A few years ago, he bought a set of Creamsource Doppios and Minis, which accompany him on all his jobs and have been in continuous service for a wide range of challenging projects. Here, Shaun shares his recent experiences with Creamsource LEDs on Mad Max: Fury Road, Alien: Covenant and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

Mad Max: Fury Road – Heat, dust, tight spaces

We were in the middle of the desert, travelling down a dusty road, in bright sunlight. In order to light the actors inside the vehicles, we needed a powerful light to balance the outside with the interior of the vehicles; it had to be small and punchy, easy to rig, tough and reliable in hot and dusty conditions and fully controllable – and of course we didn’t want to worry about bulbs blowing. I’ve been using Creamsource lights for years and knew they would work here.  Cinematographer John Seale and I put my four Doppios and four Minis to work in a variety of ways:  We bolted them to the vehicles to light Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron through the windscreen. We also stuck them into a back window and squeezed them into small spaces inside the vehicle, hidden from the camera. We used our Creamsource units for all the action sequences in the desert. They were the most used lamp on that whole movie and the low power usage was a bonus. For me, the output colour temperature is perfect, the compact size is ideal, the housing is rugged, and the control is great.

Alien: Covenant – Dark, firelight, flares and “unscripted” effects

This was a dark film, both thematically and visually.  Out cinematographer, Dariusz Wolski, likes to shoot quite simply and keep things as real as possible. There’s a big scene near the start of the film where the crew sets off a flare. We looked at real flares so we knew what we wanted to match. I brought out my Doppio daylights and we rigged them in a circle over the scene. They’re so bright and directional, they created exactly the flare look we wanted. Dariusz hadn’t seen Creamsource lights before but he said it was his favourite light on the movie. It’s great when you can introduce something to your cinematographer and they love it.

Another scene in the bottom of a space ship – a warehouse setting with a load of trucks and earth-moving equipment. We wanted hard sources to emulate practical warehouse lights, so we rigged about 25 Doppios shining directly down. Their brightness gave us just what we were going for.

Director Ridley Scott sometimes asks for ‘unscripted’ lighting effects. The Creamsources are handy and effective for creating makeshift lighting or electrical explosions. My eight Creamsource heads that I  have with me all the time were perfect for these effects.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales aka Salazar’s Revenge – Style

This was a completely different kind of job – a very stylised picture.   But the Creamsource LEDs again came into their own in several situations. I used my eight lights to create lightning for a scene set in a rowing boat out at sea at night.  This worked because the lights use very little power but pack a punch.

I also used them as a hard, bright source to push through grates and cracks in the jail cell scenes. Paul Cameron, the cinematographer, was keen on a hard backlight so we bounced them onto some white cards for key lights and fills.