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Stphane Bourgoin on The Last Duel, Emily in Paris, and more with ARRI Lighting


St phane Bourgoin is a seasoned gaffer who regularly works on the many American productions that come to France to shoot. Most recently, after working on the two highly acclaimed series Patriot and Emily in Paris, his expertise was on call for Ridley Scott's The Last Duel and Chad Stahelski's John Wick 4. ARRI had the chance to sit down with St phane Bourgoin and discuss his work as head of the lighting team on these large-scale productions.

St phane Bourgoin

Released at the end of 2021, Ridley Scott's The Last Duel is an undisputed cinematic success. For this medieval epic with very strong visual bias, the British director chose to shoot for six weeks in France, preceded by a long preparation period in Ireland on models. Working with Ridley Scott is a childhood dream, explains St phane Bourgoin. Discovering Blade Runner' at the age of 10 with my father made me want to make films. Thirty-five years later, it was a great pleasure to work with Ridley Scott and his director of photography, Dariusz Wolski, to create the light for The Last Duel.' I had a smile on my face every day going on set.

Installation of five ARRIMAX 18 kW on the set of The Last Duel by Ridley Scott.

A shoot with Ridley Scott means having a crew of 600 people, says St phane Bourgoin. It's a different scale compared to French cinema. In the interiors, he shoots each shot with four cameras at the same time. This brings a continuity, a fluidity to his films. As a result, a sequence can be shot very quickly. However, for the lighting team, having four cameras is great hindrance; we have to find the right lighting solutions without taking up too much space on set. Because we were always on a natural set, the cinematographer created light directions by zone with spots of light. There is one that goes for a face, the other for a wider shot. Since the cameras are intelligently placed, all the shots are beautiful. One also must witness the speed with which Ridley Scott decides on the camera axes on set-It's impressive.

In the medieval castles, the idea was not to install rigs everywhere to control everything, insists the gaffer. Ridley Scott and Dariusz Wolski like to leave room for things that imitate real life, like a ray of sunshine entering a room. At that point, they would move the whole set to take advantage of the occurrence. The foundation of the lighting was the ARRIMAX 18 kWs which I installed on Manitous with 6x6 frames to light brighter and farther while remaining soft. The ARRIMAX is a perfect tool for lighting large areas. In the interiors, I made some 2x2 m softboxes with SkyPanels. We also worked a lot on all the lighting effects with gas burners that allowed us to get a little shine on the face. So even if the film's general tone is quite grey, the light is never flat. There is always a direction of light, stronger at some moments, less at others.

Before working on American productions shooting in France, St phane Bourgoin had a long career in French cinema. Since 2005, he has directed the lighting team on such notable films as Holy Motors (Leos Carax), Le myst re Henri Pick (R mi Bezan on).

Ten ARRIMAX 18 kW on the set.

His work on the series Patriot (Amazon Prime Video) in 2017 opened the doors to US cinema. Season 2 of Patriot' was shot entirely in Paris, explains the gaffer. It's a very high-end series, shot like a feature film, with a beautiful look. For American productions, you have to take all the equipment you need without trying to optimize what you have as you would on French films. You will get blamed for not taking enough material rather than the other way around.

Twelve ARRIMAX 18 kW on the set of the Patriot series.

On this series, DP James Whitaker was looking for absolute control of the light. In daylight, we had to build huge 6x6 m black boxes to create some negative space and a dark gradation on the main character's face. Indoors, the biggest set was the Palais Brongniart (ex-Bourse de Paris) with its huge arches, which had been transformed into a bank. Behind the windows, I installed twenty ARRIMAX 18 kW, whose beam had to be adjusted in inclination to the nearest degree. SkyPanels were added to the face on 12x12s in Ultrabounce to give the image some shape. The visuals of the series did not go unnoticed in the United States. It gave me the credibility to work on other American productions, such as Emily in Paris.

Four ARRIMAX on the set of Emily in Paris.

Authored by Darren Star, the creator of Sex and the City, Emily in Paris became a worldwide hit in 2020, becoming Netflix's most successful comedy series. Set in the glamorous French capitol, Emily in Paris features exquisite scenery, designer fashion, and the stunning Lily Collins. I worked on seasons 1 and 2 alongside cinematographer Steven Fierberg, explains the gaffer. We worked together very closely, and I was able to gain his trust very quickly. His guideline was to get a pretty, glossy image while keeping the image soft at the same time. For the agency's big set, built at La Cit du cin ma, we used ARRI STUDIO T12 tungsten lights to get that warm tint, sunlight coming in. They were mounted on rails so we could easily change the direction of the light and reproduce the different moments of the day. I also installed a lightbox on the ceiling to illuminate the set. For the faces, we used SkyPanels on large, diffused canvases. We worked a lot with the shine on the characters' skins to give a glossy look to the lips and cheekbones. I also used the SkyPanels regularly on the night sequences. This allowed us to work on the colors very easily. We would mix a dozen SkyPanels with some Asteras to create renderings of parties in bars or nightclubs.

St phane Bourgoin: For the faces, we bounced light from SkyPanels onto lar
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