The Small Talk Show

by Sem Voortman

Late at night when young Lilou is asleep her shoebox diorama comes to life. Parallel to what her parents might be watching in another room her toys create a show about nothing themselves. Talkshowhost David Chatterman and guests Dolly Person and Bearye welcome you to The Small Talk Show in a short teaser film for what might become an actual TV format someday.

Writer and director Sem Voortman received the obstruction to light an entire studio with a single light and film different scenes. His (very) creative solution to this difficult task was to just shrink the size of the studio down to fit a single light. He then came up with the idea for a miniaturized talk show when working on the concept for this film. 

Sem says "I thought it would be fun to literally make a small talk show, which we would light using only one lamp. The conversation of the host and the guests would be about nothing, giving the name Small Talk Show a second meaning. "

The only question remains when and where we will be able to see the full version of The Small Talk Show.

Light an entire studio with a single light a
nd shoot different scenes (from different angles).


In order to make The Small Talk Show a miniature studio had to be built. Based on the size of the largest Astora soft light Studio I Have Pop built several moveable set pieces and animated the puppets using sticks and wires.

Based on the script there were two main scenes in which the puppets would be acting. The first is the typical opening titles, followed by the curtain entry of the host. The camera would enter this scene through the hole in the side of the shoebox. To accomplish this the camera was put on a slider and the titles were dropped in. This was quite an elaborate scene in which the sequence of the sliding, focussing, dropping the titles, opening the curtains and entry of the host had to be executed. The second scene was the desk and sofa scene with the guests. With the help of splitting the screen in post production all the puppets were able to move together and interact.

For the filming the light was set to a temperature of 4400K and the camera was also balanced to the same temperature. For the opening scene a black paper cone was formed to create a spot light for the host, but for the main scenes no other tools were used. Color grading wasn't even necessary. .

Q & A

So Sem, how’s the weather?  

(No comment)

Your obstruction was to light an entire studio with a single light and shoot different scenes. At first sight this is quite a technical challenge. How did you manage to come up with this idea? Can you walk us through the thought process?

Small Talk Show literally is a small talk show. We made the set out of a big shoebox. With a set this size, the light we were using would fill the box completely. And since we filmed most of all the shots inside this studio with the same camera and light setup, technically it was not difficult at all. It was the building of the set, and of a contraption that would hold the light over the set that would prove most difficult and time-consuming. 

Then after you created the concept, how did you make it come alive? Did you first write a script, or did you get the characters first? And how did you go from there?

Since there was no time for an entire show, we decided to make like a teaser for the show. The likes of which you see on television, announcing the start of a show right before some commercials that come before it. So I wrote a script for that. 

In the behind the scenes photos I can see that the set pieces actually look like set pieces as well. Was that important as well, to create an actual small studio? Certainly, in the film no-one would see this.

Yeah, very important, since it would give us room to make all the shots. We wouldn't have been able to film everything with all the walls in place. We had to remove some of the for some of the closer shots. Just like a regular studio. 

The idea of a small talk show is really funny. Would you consider turning it into a format? I can imagine it becoming a series of short films.

I would, actually. I think it'd be great. But I would use grown-up voices, and make the whole thing a little less innocent. 

There is one scene that has been filmed in a different location. Where is it and did you uphold the obstructions there?

The bedroom scene where it's revealed that we're in the imagination of a child. Since it was supposed to be night, upholding the restriction was relatively easy. We just turned the one light into a moon with the help of some blue transparant foil. 

 Who were involved in the project?

Mainly just me, Studio I Have Pop who did the art direction and the puppetry, James Powell did the sound design and his son Isaac did the voices.

Thank you.


Sem Voortman is a 27 year old writer and director. After dropping out of film school he worked on various sets doing all kinds of different jobs learning different aspects of the trade. He recently worked at an advertising agency writing and developing creative concepts. During the daytime he currently is working as a freelance copywriter. At night he is working on his first feature film script.


Written directed by: Sem Voortman
Art direction: Studio I Have Pop
Filmed and edited by: Sem Voortman
Sound design and music: James Powell
Voices by: Isaac Powell

Equipment used:
Canon 5D MKII
Canon EF 16-35mm 1:2.8 L
Astora SF 200 Soft Light



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No matter what your idea is, what camera you use, how experienced you are, Astora offers a complete strong and light weight solution providing bright, high quality LED lights. Ready to take on any creative challenge.

No matter what your idea is, what camera you use, how experienced you are, Astora offers a complete strong and light weight solution providing bright, high quality LED lights. Ready to take on any creative challenge.

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