Secondary Research for Artefact 2- Fear

My third year of Media Production at Coventry contains a module called 360MC, Research and Development to support us before the production of our FMP (Final Major Project.) The module includes producing three creative artefacts around three different themes to explore, experiment and influence our FMP.

Fear is a natural response given when faced with a threat of danger or harm. It is fundamental to our existence to have a natural instinct to survive. However fear is a broad subject because it has developed into a psychological threat, for example having bad experiences of encountering spiders can affect your view of spiders. However, in my opinion, fear is created with a lot of elements in film from sound, camera and light. Light plays an incredible part because the darkness is also a reflection of the unknown. The set up of lights decides the emotion that is being conveyed to the audience from happy; sad, dangerous and or even scared. It helps to add tension, drama and emotion.

There are many different types of light to consider such as high and low key lighting. High key lighting is used to create a very open like space where the light is hitting the walls and floor. It helps to blow out all of the harsh shadows that are visible. It is mainly used for upbeat or beautiful, light-hearted moods. Low key lighting is for serious, a lot harsher shadow cast. It’s dramatic and powerful. The back light is important to help separate the subject from the darkness.

Horror is one of the genres where the lighting can emotional and psychologically effect the reaction of the audience. In films like The Conjuring, The Fog, Peeping Tom etc, the light is creating shadows with unnatural lighting and creates and unpleasant feeling. Up lighting is almost always used in Horror films because it distorts the face and creates harsh shadows around the eyes and facial feature. In reality, natural light occurs from above, side or behind. Lighting from below also symbolises explained by Screen Prism ‘ lighting from below evokes the idea of light coming from… the depths of hell. The opposite is true the light coming from above creates the illusion of heavenly light.’ (ScreenPrism, 2016)

There are also many other lighting techniques used

  • ‘Uplighting
  • Silhouette
  • Spotlighting
  • Underexposure
  • Harsh light (hard light, chiaroscuro)
  • Prominent and projected shadows
  • Shooting through objects (internal frames)
  • Shooting through elements’ (Renée, 2016)

Some elements like spotlighting, under exposing or shooting through objects are ways used to obscure and conceal for the audiences to use their minds to fill in the gaps. In return, the outcome could be a lot scarier. It helps to create tension and suspense because only half of what you can see it lit. Silhouette and prominent shadows are more unnatural then up lighting on the face. These elements take another step to be able to give an unnatural view of the world because the brain cannot identify with the limited information it is given, ‘it plays upon the human fear of the unknown.’ (Renée, 2016)

And in theory using this technique can create an active audience to use their imagination against themselves and also target a mass audience because it can appeal to a wider audience because everyone will have their own interpretation.

Screen Shot 2016-11-30 at 7.00.38 PM.png

I also found ‘111 Ways to Use Lights and Modifiers to Get Different Looks’it was interesting and hopefully I can experiment with my artefact to achieve successful lighting.

There is also a video that uses light and colour to enhance the emotions that are being conveyed

It shows different lighting setups on the face and how important it is to consider the skin, texture and colour. To accomplish the best results I will have to tweak the basic set ups while on set to represent the narrative and atmosphere I am trying to convey because everyone has a different face. “The main thing is to hold a light and move it around your model’s face, studying how the light changes. Where are the most flattering light positions? What light positions cause awkward shadows? How does a side light affect skin texture?” (Ford, 2015) The Color of the light also adds a different dimension of emotions and feelings because certain colour can represent different or multiple meanings in film as presented in the diagram below



Film Noir (1940-59) was a movement that was common to use low-key lighting to be able to create contrast in many of the Black and White films. The key and backlights were really important, having a hard and strong shadow created depth and added a strong and powerful feeling to the character/scene.The soft lighting was used on the females glamorise their look. There are many examples and advice on the video to achieve a film noir style lighting, I can test and apply it in my artefact and see how it performs in colour.


FilmmakerIQ, (2016). The Basics of Lighting for Film Noir. Available at: [Accessed 30 Oct. 2016].

Ford, J. (2015). A Case Study in Making Your Lighting Soft, Beautiful, & Professional. [online] No Film School. Available at: [Accessed 30 Oct. 2016].


Guzman, N. (2013). Your Face Changes In Different Lighting. Available at: [Accessed 30 Oct. 2016].


Renée, V. (2016). 8 Spooky Lighting Techniques You Can Use in Your Horror Film. [online] No Film School. Available at: [Accessed 30 Oct. 2016].

Renée, V. (2016). 111 Ways to Use Lights and Modifiers to Get Different Looks. [online] No Film School. Available at: [Accessed 30 Oct. 2016].

ScreenPrism, (2016). Horror Lighting: From Below. Available at: [Accessed 30 Oct. 2016].


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