Tips to create an easy, dramatic lighting effect film noir style
What you will need: a piece of black velvet material, an off-camera flash unit, either an off-camera shoe cord or a flash slave set which includes a transceiver and receiver unit. You will also need to understand the principles of film noir, which you can read about here.
Black velvet is the perfect material for a back drop for this kind of shot. It soaks up light to give you a deep, rich, black background, and won't bounce back the light from your flash. You can get a piece of black velvet at any fabric store. If you don't have stands to hang it from, you can attach it to a wall with thumb tacks, or method of your choosing.
The basic idea is to get a dramatic lighting effect that increases tension and contrast. Instead of shooting with a flash attached to the top of your camera, we're going to take the unit off, and shoot the flash from a different angle and location.
There's a couple ways you can set your flash unit up. 1) on a stand with your slave units- easiest hands free method. 2) hand-held with off-camera cord attached. The stand/slave combo. will give you more effect options, and a larger area of placement options. It is also the "safest" for your equipment. The hand-held option is a little trickier to juggle, but if you're not someone who ever shoots with slave units, it's the cheaper option for you.
Now that you understand the lighting part, the styling, mood, and models are up to you!