American Cinematographer - September 2010 - 46
want to fill out the faces in the room, but not see so much that there’s no mystery.” For the reverse on Jimmy, Morgenthau reverts to lighting through windows, the norm for daytime scenes, pushing a 20K through a black-lace curtain and cutting it right at Jimmy’s brow. The chicken coops and 20Ks were part of a sizable permanent stage package. When the Steiner sets were built, Dryburgh successfully argued for them to be built on an elevated platform; the production settled on a height of 8'. “I was very strong on that, because that enabled us to approach the windows without seeing the deck,” he says. “I also wanted the ability to have a full ceiling, but be able to lift a corner of it. The general rule of thumb was to key it from the windows, so we talked a lot about windows with Bob Shaw. Then we did extensive rigging around the outside of the building so we could direct beams of sunlight or the glow of the sky from wherever was appropriate.” Sunlight came from eight 20Ks on motorized trusses around the perimeter of the set, while 30 Skypans were on hand to light the painted ocean-view backdrop on one side and storefront set pieces on the other. On the floor were various additional units, including a 10K that raked the set piece and a 20K on standby to provide light from angles unavailable to the truss. Everything was wired to a dimmer board. In the 1920s, electricity was a luxury, so the filmmakers tried to avoid using practicals during day scenes. “There’s a temptation to use them because they’re so beautiful, but in 1920, electricity was a precious resource,” says Morgenthau. “Nucky has many practical lamps on everywhere in his hotel suite, but somebody like Jimmy is in a coldwater flat and wouldn’t have his lights on during the day.” The Atlantic City boardwalk spared no expense on its lighting, however. Boardwalk signage was meant to create excitement, so the boardwalk set featured marquees with hundreds of bulbs. Behind the amusement-pier marquee, a 20K Fresnel on a lift ampliAmerican Cinematographer
Above: The crew sets up a bluescreen shot on the beach set adjacent to the boardwalk set. Right: A crane-mounted source provides nighttime illumination on location in a real neighborhood.