The Movie Magic Behind the "Let Me Breathe" Short
By: Michael A Smith
Let Me Breathe, the short film, revolves around Laura (Megan Hackett), a young woman, who returns home to a table set for a gourmet dinner that will change her life forever. Chilling and minimalist, the surroundings in Let Me Breathe are critical in giving the film the appropriate tone. Since the story takes place at night, high contrast was the order of the day from Director, Donald Roman Lopez to his creative team, so it was imperative that production scheduled night shoots. Three days before principal photography started however, production received notice that neighbors sent a complaint to Film L.A. Inc., regarding opposition to having a film crew in the neighborhood throughout the night. The shoot had to wrap by midnight. A film that would take place at night, heavily reliant on high contrast lighting, now had to be shot during long summer days.
The main challenge: the stunning location in the Beverly Grove neighborhood of LA was flooded with natural lighting. Led by the film’s Director of Photography Paola Trulin, Gaffer Heath Gresham and team had to cover as many windows as possible. The home had an open concept layout, a bright, neutral pallet, and a high-end contemporary approach to its interior design. (Pictured below) Filming downstairs required scheduling all shots facing away from the sun-drenched patio to be filmed first. Production had to wait until 8 PM to turn around and get all the shots facing the patio. In this short period of time, production needed to make sure to get all the necessary coverage to match the previous shots. The most demanding and complex shots were in the upstairs corridor. (Pictured below) There were skylights in the ceiling that simply could not be covered. The solution would be to create dramatic shadows that could be enhanced in post-production. These shots relied heavily on color correction.
In the end, the high contrast film was the result of those two weekends of hard work by the production team. Let Me Breathe is a film with a seemingly normal setup that gradually crawls up the viewer’s psyche as the story unfolds in one night, 85% of which was shot during the day.