ETC fos/4 LED panels prove perfect complement to natural light for cinematographer Lily Grimes during shooting of art film ‘Horsepolish’, an artist’s response to de Sica’s neorealist 1946 masterpiece ‘Shoeshine’.
Lily Grimes is a freelance cinematographer working in film and television. Having enjoyed sixteen years working in international news and documentary as a filmmaker – shooting, editing, producing and directing – Lily graduated the Cinematography Master’s degree at NFTS in 2019. Since then she has shot a number of short films, a TV pilot, music videos, films with performance artists, and was runner-up BSC Emerging Cinematographer of 2019. An RTS short form award for a Kodak commercial was another well-deserved reflection of this highly talented professional.
A recent art film project saw Lily re-acquainted in a professional capacity with a familiar London-based artist – none other than her mother, Oona. Oona Grimes, who also lectures in art, was awarded a Bridget Riley Fellowship in 2018 and has works held in the New Hall Art Collection, the British Museum and the New York Public Library. One of a series of film collaborations between Oona Grimes (who also performs) and eminent British screenwriter Tony Grisoni, Horsepolish is an artist’s response to Vittorio de Sica’s 1946 neorealist film Shoeshine, and was shot in and around the The Ragged School Museum on the Regent’s Canal near Mile End in London.
Lily argued for and succeeded in her quest to film in black and white Super 16mm, feeling it was the perfect medium to capture the rough landscapes favoured by neorealists. Her approach to lighting combined the use of a lot of natural light with supplementary fos/4 LED panels from ETC, as she explains:
“The film was planned rather than written, leaving us many more creative decisions to take. As far as lighting was concerned, we used natural light on the canal towpath, and then as a result of a conversation with Barry Grubb at 3LR Lighting, decided to use two of ETC’s beautiful fos/4 LED panels. The fos/4 PD8 and PD16 use daylight HDR 6 chip LEDs with high output, and so could augment sunlight, provide subtle fill or act as strong directional key. In keeping with De Sica’s film, we wanted simple directional lighting, and often used the sun as our key back light with subtle fill from the fos/4s. When we lost December light at about 3pm, the PD16 stepped up as our ‘sun’ and the PD8 provided fill.
“The fos/4s boast a ‘deep red’ in the fixtures, allowing for subtle nuances in skin tones, so we knew the tonal range was there. The lamps can run off DMX technology but we used their very intuitive control panel. We didn’t get to explore the amazing range of colours and effects, so I’m now itching to use them on a colour project, and I’m also looking forward to using the new fos/4 fresnel.”
At the conclusion of the filming, Horsepolish went to post-production with Lily satisfied that she had captured the perfect atmosphere for this homage to the great De Sica. Now completed, the film premiered at The Ragged School Museum’s Ragged Art Festival 2021, and is lined up for gallery screenings in London and Milan later in the year.
On working with her mum, Lily is unequivocal:
“It’s great. She really trusts me as a filmmaker, so I can leave all the performance to her and concentrate on visually telling the story. She prefers single takes, so it’s a lovely mixture of pressure and responsibility to respond to the performance in the moment. There’s an element of telepathy you hope develops between directors and performers, and it’s a joy to have this from the start of the project.