Yaar Billa

film director's experience of shooting at night

That’s why Arri products are cheap

Let’s cover what, why & who of this blog real quick…
Because your time is kind of important to me too.



There are many moments in your filmmaking or any career when you discover why certain things are the way they are. This story is about realizing “Why choosing the right gears is important”.



So there is a wild belief, especially in beginners and intermediate level filmmakers, that Arri products are expensive and way out of budget. In reality, it is the other way around.



Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Profile: Cinematographer, Gaffer, Filmmaker.


Before jumping into “How” an introduction seems a must to beautiful minds reading this…

Hey there,

I’m Deepak (a.k.a. Yaar Billa). This blog series “My journey” is about my experiences as a filmmaker. It is my attempt to inspire you & help you by sharing practical advice weekly.

Have you ever shot at night?
Do you remember those cheap lights you brought on set?
And how did they fail just right before rolling the camera?


actor's Night film shot

You feel me…
We are just about to discuss that.

But before we move further, I think it’s a good time to pause that Netflix episode you’re watching and bring a cup of tea this time, maybe…

Because this story is eye-opening and I promise by the end of this you will say Arri products are more cost-effective than they seem, by yourself.

Let’s dive in…



There is a reason why Arri leads the film industry with its products. And, there are a lot of goodies to talk about, but we are gonna look into Arri’s lighting solution in this blog.


So a Director friend (Victor) approached me a few weeks ago for a no-budget short film to work as a DP. He has deep roots in the Punjabi film industry (Chandigarh, India) as his father is a famous actor Mr. Yograj Singh.


When I say no budget it doesn’t mean there were no actors to shoot, no sets to light, no crew, no food, etc.It simply means we were operating on the minimum and the time was also limited.
Though, the time is always limited if you know what I mean. 🙂
It doesn’t mean I was with my camera alone. Just to be clear…


short movie scene shot at night


It was a night shoot so we reached the location at 9:00 PM.
Victor and I started looking around for the possibility of sets in different locations.
As you would typically do.
Everything was going smoothly and we found our first frame.

Had dinner! (As they say, or as I say fill your tummy first)
Also, we wanted an uninterrupted shoot.

I took the charge and lit the first spot which was for a wide shot of an actor coming on his motorbike.


night film shoot scene in low light

It was pitch dark so to add interest I did 3 things.

  1. I set up the camera in a way that included the distant street lights in the frame. I did this to add some practicals which help the audience believe the light is motivated. It was very subtle but effective.
  2. The second thing I did was add some smoke at a distance near a tree.
  3. Then, I lit the tree with the background light. The scene was so intriguing. The smoke helped us catch the light and fill the frame.
    (Quick tip: Most of the time shooting pitch dark is a bad idea.)


As intriguing as the scene was looking, we failed to shoot it.

Just before rolling the camera, a voltage fluctuation happened and burned the internal circuitry of our LED panel.
We were using this powerful LED light as a background light.

After failing, we were left with no choice but to shoot against almost dark. We lit it with the extra small LEDs we had, but the result was far away from what it was before.

(Quick tip: Voltage fluctuations are a common thing in India. To avoid such complications, bring voltage stabilizers on set.)

Now coming to the title of this blog.

Imagine… all the lights failed due to that voltage fluctuation.

Do you realize what was at stake, because we wanted to save a few bucks (rent) on some lights?

So to back up my statement in the title let’s discuss some stakes involved in such scenarios

  1. Time: We often hear that filmmaking is all about teamwork. This also means there are a whole lot of people whose time is at stake if anything goes wrong like this incident.
  2. Effort: There are ADs, actors, DPs, directors, etc. on a set who have come to make this possible.
  3. Cost: This is a substantial cost related to commuting, food & rent of equipment even in a no-budget production.
  4. Demotivation: Maybe, the cut isn’t too deep in your pockets but it can cause demotivation.
  5. Unhealthy relationships: Imagine, your actor leaving a paid gig for you, and then this happens…
  6. Bad Image: Your image can suffer as a filmmaker in the market.


A no-budget/Collaboration project can cost way more than you think and that too without achieving anything.

Just because you chose the cheaper lights!
Come on…
We can do better than this.

Don’t even get me started on what if it was a shoot with a celebrity or your first high-budget gig!
You know the stakes right. You don’t want to lose to your competition this way.

Arri lights could have saved our @sses the other day.
How? You may ask…

Because they are reliable, solid-built like a tank, weather-sealed for rough and tough use and they come with this protection circuitry (Ballasts) which Arri has developed with years of research and has been industry standard for so long.

Did I mention the quality of light you get?

It’s just unbeatable (more on this in my Masterclass blog).

arri video shooting lights


Just Go for them…
Unless you are shooting your dog, cat, friends, or wife in the backyard.
You can always rent them near you.
Whatever it is, you can rely on them. I promise It will save your day.


I get it. You wanna shoot on red, me too…
But if I had to…

I would go with a low-end cinema camera with a reliable lighting setup instead of having a high-end camera with cheap lights anytime.



You must use a reliable lighting solution like Arri for a sophisticated and professional shoot because they:

  • Are built like a tank.
  • Are weather-sealed.
  • Can stand voltage fluctuations.
  • Give high-quality light. (High CRI)
  • Won’t fail you.


I know you didn’t miss out on the smallest detail as every filmmaker in the world.

Let’s find out if you got this inside out.

Hope! you got something new out of this experience. Though, I run a blog called “MasterClass” where I thoroughly covered this topic, “How to utilize Arri lighting solution”.(Coming soon)

And… There is one more challenge we filmmakers face.
Any Guesses?

Organizing all these information pile-ups in never-ending bookmarks.
And It is a pain in the @ss, right? So I optimized this information for Instagram and created this post for you.

Save it for future reference. Also, follow me for more content like this.

And coming back to my promise again…
Was this story able to change your mind?

Share your views with us in the comments…



Yeah, I know…
I promised I will be shooting my first vlog for you guys this week…

But the thing is…
I am working on a personal project which I need to complete by the end of this week.

In the meantime, I almost planned out 2 more vlogs and several new ideas.

Also, a music video is on the way, guys…

See ya in the next one…

I am a filmmaker with 5+ years of experience based in Copenhagen, Denmark. I tell stories by creating, editing, and color grading images. With this blog series, I wanna help my filmmaking community by sharing practical tips, advice, and experiences.