Today I swing-in the method I used on We Are Marshall to execute a Headlight gag effect.
The Headlight Gag is the perfect solution for getting that reverse-shot of the subject looking out at the car. A lot of the time you won’t be able to control the car well-enough or get the punch that’s necessary to pull the shot off.
This is where you need to be creative and come with the gear to get the job done. Whether you decide to go the professional or DIY route (as discussed in the “How to Build the Headlight Gag” article); it’s important that you match the headlights of the car in the scene.
There is more to this set-up than emulating the headlights of the car. You need to create depth to pull your subject out from the background. For us, we made sure to have an Arri 2K moonlit source to edge out our model, Monette. This will help keep her visible when she lurks through the shadows.
With the moonlit source set, you’ll want to bouncing the light to create some ambience. This will lightly wrap around the subjects face, pulling it out of shadows ever so slightly for an exposure. This will be the perfect amount until the headlights sweep by filling in with more intensity to give you the exposure that you are set for.
Don’t forget to practice this maneuver a few times. The key is to make the sure that the shot, reverse-shot is timed appropriately. Once you enter the editing room, you will want this to cut smoothly. A jarring cut can quickly pull the audience out of the scene.
Give it your best shot and let us know what you think!