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Shot Listing

Jonathan Kemp

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Hi all,


I've been struggling to shot list in the most logical and thorough way. I've been using Adobe Story CC and its shot list feature, but I'm struggling to make it as fool-proof as I want it to be. My problem lies in that often one shot (say a close up of a character) is used again and again throughout a scene. I'm unsure whether to keep marking it as a new shot every time I want to use it, or to assume that I'm filming the entire scene from that angle and every time I see that angle assume that it's already been covered. Obviously I wouldn't want every angle shot for the entire scene. Some shots would be the entire scene, others would be from when the character sits down until the end of a scene (for example), others would be only for specific action.

I've found that things have a way of working out on set when you can see what you've actually got, but it seems a little like its leaving it to chance relying on figuring it out when you're shooting, when you're rushing to get through the scenes.


I'm just interested in how DP's and Directors approach this problem. i.e. making the shotlist detailed, specific and fool-proof. (I know inspiration will inevitable strike on set, but I'm talking about the bare essentials.)


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The technique i use is to draw a vertical line down the script that represents each different shot and runs the length you want covered from each angle. For instance, let's say there's a scene where two people enter a room, approach each other, and speak. The first shot, 1A, say is a wide shot and you want the whole scene from this angle, so I'd mark 1A at the top of the scene and run a line down the entire scene, onto the next page until the scene ends in the script. Then say for your next angle, you want OTS's on characters after they have gotten close together, maybe that's three lines into the scene, so at that part in the script I would label 1B - OTS (character name) and that runs for as long as you need it, then 1C might be the reversal. 1D might be any other random shot, maybe a pivot or camera move in a wider lens, and maybe that's only covering 2 lines of dialogue, so that vertical line would only run through those lines. Obviously, the shots above are just examples, but this is a very visual way to plan your coverage. The script supervisor can check off the shots as they're completed. I remember being taught that this was a pretty standard way of doing things, though I'm not sure. It does work well for me at least.

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The 'line' method is the one I use as well. That way, I have whole sequences of the dialog from X perspective, and can inter cut other shots depending on how things actually turnout... for example, say a actor flubs a other wise 'good' take with one word... one way is to do 50 takes until all lines are delivered correctly, or alternatively, cut to other POV's and cut in a 'better' version of the offending dialog chunk.


In other words a 'line' means 'move camera', and so, one would not want to move the camera from position 1, to 2, unless one is completely done with position 1...


I also use the convention 1 + A, B, C, etc. to mean Scene 1 Shot A, Shot B, Shot C, etc. I don't bother with the 'roll'... as I shoot shorts, and most of my short films have fit on to one SD type memory device. I suppose I could serialize the SD cards, and indicate that on the slate. As a note, I treat SD cards like 'film' in that I never reuse/erase the original data.

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