Film Noir Photography Assignment Ideas

Moody, dark and dramatic. The term film noir may instantly conjure cinematic scenarios in your mind of hard-boiled detectives and brassy dames that drag trouble behind them like tattered coats. But film noir is also a still photography style, largely informed by the movies of the same classification.

Film noir is a term introduced in the 1940s by French critics Nino Frank and Jean-Pierre Chartier. The French word "noir" translates to "black" or "dark," and film noir describes a style of filmmaking rather than an actual film genre. At the heart of film noir is a dramatic story, often filled with crime and sexual exploits. Film noir's defining characteristics, though, are its storytelling style and the cinematography used to capture it [sources: Horsley, Dirks].

Today, film noir is still a highly recognized and well-respected form of storytelling on film. If you admire this style, you may choose to shoot film noir movies or still shots. For the photography, you'll want to create the lighting and camera effects that imitate the best of film noir.

In this article, we cover five tips you can use to shoot your own film noir photography, whether it's still shots or motion pictures. We'll start with the most basic tip needed to create film noir: selecting and placing lights in the scene.

Good Afternoon Vimeans!

It is currently Friday, which means it is time for another Weekend Project! For this project, picture yourself as an aspiring director in the Film Noir era. The 40's and 50's marked a time of visual experimentation, the art of film was becoming more multidimensional, the business was changing.

So what exactly is Film Noir? Film Noir translated means "black film", they typically derived from 1930's hard boiled crime fiction. The stories weaved intricate tales of crime, murder, sex, and corruption. We dug up a few classic film noir examples on Vimeo, check them out!

Rita by Stephen Lewis demonstrates many of the stylistic cues of the Film Noir genre.

While Nuit Blanche by Spy Films exemplifies a modernized take.

So here are this week's guidelines:

  • Your film should be 1 to 2 minutes long
    • Filmed in Black & White
    • Feel free to experiment, we want to see YOUR interpretation of Film Noir, whether it be modern, classic, or just plain silly!

Submissions are due Wednesday, May 11th at 11:59PM (EST). Submit your video to the Weekend Project Group or you won't be eligible for the contest. Please remember that only videos made specifically for this project will be considered. All submitted videos must be approved by the Vimeo Staff, so don't worry if your video does not show up at first, we'll get to it, promise! Only video shot and edited during the challenge period will be accepted.

The winner of this contest will get a free Plus account, or if you're already a Plus member, we're going to let you gift the Plus to whomever you choose (along with an extra 2.5 GBs of upload space)! The runner-up will receive an extra 1 GB of upload capacity whether Plus or not.

Have fun and good luck!

UPDATE! We have the winner and the runner-up for the Film Noir Weekend Project! The Winner is "Engaged For Murder" by Justin Aguirre and the runner-up is "The Gun" by Victoria Taylor-Gore. Congratulations!!!


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