What we can learn from "Blank Canvas"
Clint Horvath's Blank Cavas is a wonderful film for budding filmmakers to watch. A jazz filled journey through one man's life, Blank Canvas shows that it is possible to make the feature film of one's dreams. One of the most interesting aspects of Clint's film is his use of natural lighting.
The protagonist Enrique, is living in an apartment without electricty. So Clint lights the place with a multitude of candles. This practical lighting adds a unique sense of contrast and warmth that makes for some of the best shots of the film. One scene even makes some comedic use of the candles, as Enrique, in order to hide from a date proceeds to blow out all the candles one by one. This scene in addition to being one of the most funny, is also one of the best shot. It goes to show that beautiful shots can be made, even with little to no budget.
Plain daylight serves as another source of lighting for Clint, as Enrique and other characters are often contrasted with large swaths of white sunlight. Many scenes which may have felt plain, were made to feel more artistic by exploiting sunlight. For instance when Enrique enters the art gallery the 2nd time he emerges from a collection of out of focus sunlight. He the steps into a close up, where he is backlit and contrasted with the light he emerged from. This shot takes the simple action of walking into an art gallery and makes it interesting.
Later on in the film, Enrique stands in front of the same gallery and begins to have an inspirational chat about art with a homeless man. This scene really gets at the heart of the film, all while being lit with practical lights. Clint frames both men with tight close - ups and litters the background with out of focus street lights. This creates a beauty that directly correlates with what the homeless man and Enrique are chatting about. To be considered an artist you don't have to get your work into an art gallery, you must merely love what you do and strive to create. Clint created art with this scene, even though it was not filmed in the typical artistically staged way. Instead he used the practical lights and became as creative as possible. It seems he took his script's advice to heart.
Filmmakers should take a look at Blank Canvas and use it as inspiration to create their own projects. If one man with just practical lights can make a feature film, then so can someone else.