Second Jen

Hey Readers, Sorry for the super lack of updates!  It’s been crazy busy and I’ll talk about it all in this post!  A buddy of mine, Fergus Lowrey, told me to keep my blog going, so I’ll try to do it!

In my personal life, I’ve gotten married and am in the middle of a move to a new house.  But this is a Cinema blog, so we don’t care about that haha.

In terms of film work, I shot my first prime time TV show!  On CityTV, Thursdays at 8:30pm (plug that).  The series is called Second Jen, about two Asian female Millenials with immigrant parents who move out on their own for the first time.

We shot that on my Sony FS7 on S-Log3, cineGamut3 with Rokinon Primes.  The budget was slim and we were limited on time and space, but we made it work and I’m pretty happy with what we came out with.

You can watch it all here: CityTV

The show was shot over 18 days in Toronto.  I teamed up with director, Romeo Candido and creator/actor Samantha Wan again (where we worked together on Sudden Master – you can read the article about that in November Issue of Canadian Cinematographer).  And the production company Don Ferguson Productions, who took a chance on an unknown cinematographer on their project.

For prep, I had made lighting plans to base off of, and we augmented as needed.  We pre-rigged everything in one day, and crossed our fingers that it would all go well.

Here are the lighting plans I made.

I had a long 4 kino above most of the sets and that was our main toppy light.  Our keys mostly came from a larger source from the exterior through a window and I supplemented a bit more fill from small battery powered LEDs.

I kept more to high key lighting and planted some unflattering hard light in the backgrounds to give the show a sense of reality.  Everything was lit pretty evenly, with the waveform generally at 60 IRE.  Because it was a comedy, there wasn’t a need to create much drama in the looks so the general 60IRE across the board was perfect.

Some more difficult scenes to shoot were the exteriors and the board game cafe scenes.  The exteriors because of the constant changes in cloud coverage and not having a frame large enough (we only had an 8×8).  The board game cafe because we didn’t have a pre-rig day and it was difficult to light some of the wider shots where I couldn’t hide lights.

If you look at the screen shots attached, I would have loved to have given the background a little more love.  For this shot, I had an LED on a scissor clamp above them, with two more LEDs acting as backlights and fills, respectively.  I asked production designer, Aaron Noel, to help me out with the incandescent in the background.

Another difficult area to shoot was the girls apartment.  I had the long 4 kinos mounted to the ceiling, so we could only tilt so far up before we saw them.  At times we would remove the light or angle it another way so we had that extra inch or two for that headroom (some of the actors were very tall).

We usually had the camera higher than the actors and shoot down at them to help hide the lights.

An ask from the network was to have mostly static shots, which was refreshing to me as I’m more used to doing a lot of handheld work.  It allowed me to notice things that I normally wouldn’t have because I was busy trying to frame something out, or following the action.  Because I don’t get to work with other DoP’s often anymore, it’s hard for me to learn anything new, and I’m glad that this show allowed me to do that in this aspect.  It’s always a goal to keep growing.

In general this show was really fun to shoot.  This helps when you have a great team working along side with you and no egos.  Watch this show and you could potentially give the amazing actors and crew members a job next year for season 2!

Comment if you’d like me to expand on any of the lighting designs or specifics on the technical aspects of this, and I’ll try my best to reply.



I'm Cinematographer in Toronto, Canada - just trying to learn as much as I can and share it all. Also the owner of Spectacle Media Inc.
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