Lighting is always big, yes.

You don't have to push, extra development can help but isn't required.

Much of the contrast you see in your example can be added when printing (paper grade) or it can be inherent in the film/process combo you choose. Pan F regularly produces contrasty results but that can be manipulated.

Also technically perfect exposure is simply the exposure that gets you the result you want, nothing more, nothing less. It is the exposure that makes your printing easier.