Low Budget Effects

When you want to have a little movie-centered fun, try imitating film special effects. You are somewhat limited in this regard, but there are many that can be done. Especially with friends and/or family, this is good for a few laughs. You don’t have to own or go out and buy all kinds of miscellaneous gadgets used by indie movie buffs. You can make do with what you have. The idea is to pretend you are going to film a script even if you actually don’t get that far. Setting the stage for a story is half the one, as is writing the lines. This is a good way to polish your skills while you also enjoy some group antics.

A case in point is the day I wanted smoky fog in the air for atmosphere and mood. A group of buddies were on hand to see what we could conjure up. We weren’t really going to shoot footage, mind you, but were trying merely to set the scene for some dialogue. The spoken word was going to be the source of the fun. I probably had some film noir in the back of my head; you know, one of those old fifties black and white numbers that still play on late night TV that revolve around some congenial sleuth looking to solve a crime, usually murder. I was thinking smoke as fog here since the appearance is quite similar. The detective would surely be down at the docks.

In any case, I pondered the problem. I wasn’t about to light a fire with wet wood. I read somewhere that this is a way to get a smoke-filled room. I wasn’t about to light up a cigarette either. It is vastly unhealthy, especially in the quantity I would need for an effective environment. All of us in our group would have to indulge and that would mean the danger of second-hand inhalation. This was definitely not the solution!

How else do you get smoke effects after all? You can’t spray it out of a can or buy it in quantity. It is a vapor that must be created on the spot. Given that my brain cells were not optimally functioning at the moment, it took an hour to think of the trusty humidifier in my guest room. It had been parked there following the visit of a friend who had a terrible dry throat. We had bought a simple unit and installed it for the night to provide some moisture relief. That worked well, but the device was soon forgotten.

I rushed to the room, pulled out the humidifier, filled the tank with water, and proceeded to turn it on. In a few minutes, a steady stream of mist surrounding my person. While it didn’t look or feel exactly like smoke, it did make vision unclear in the manner of the needed natural element. For our purposes, it was a hilarious solution, and unlike smoke, it didn’t make us cough or choke.