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"Follow" shot

hillary spera

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Hey all,


I'm looking for examples of a "follow" type of shot -- in which the camera seems to stalk or hunt. Not so much a POV shot but instead something that follows a person as they move through a scene or landscape. Let me know if anything comes to mind! Most likely would be steadicam, but also looking into Movi or handheld.


Thank you!

Edited by hillary spera
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There are plenty of shots in movies where the camera is following someone's back through a space or landscape, some are long or short. "The Evil Dead" is a good example of using a moving camera that seems to hunt or chase people down, sort of an evil spirit POV. A comedic example is when the camera follows the band members around backstage in "Spinal Tap" when they get lost and can't find the stage.


"Tree of Life" has lots of moving shots cut into semi-montages, often following people.


A lot of movies begin a character introduction by following their backs through a space, such as in the early part of "The Hunt for Red October" when you meet the Russian minister who gets the letter from Marko Ramius.


Another example of sort of a "hunting" motion is in "The Conformist" (1970) when the killers chase Dominique Sanda through the snowy woods.


There is an interesting body cam rig in the opening of "Seconds" (1966) when a character follows John Randolph through the train station.

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Thanks so much, David. I really appreciate your help. Evil Dead and Tree of Life have both been examples we have looked at... they are great references. I love Seconds, thank you for reminding me of that incredible sequence in the beginning. I'll check out Hunt for Red October.


Our camera wants to shadow the character even more... she hunts, so the idea is to mimic that concept in the way that it sees her move through a space and always stays with her. My biggest challenge now is to try and realize the best execution... I know it is best as steadicam (as we want the floating smoothness) but the organic intuition and intimacy of handheld is ideal, in theory. I am not considering a Movi as I don't think it is the best tool or workflow for us. We are intending to test the possibility of stabilizing a handheld shot, but I still am drawn to the objectivity of a camera on a steadicam. Perhaps it will end up being a combination of both.

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Not quite what you asked about, but look at the scene in Paths of Glory where the camera follows Dax and Broulard up the château staircase and stops just an instant after they do, as if it's an eavesdropper who has been found out.

Kubrick is a master of motivated camera movement.

Edited by Mark Dunn
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I think the feeling of "stalking" or "hunting" comes from seeing someone at a distance often having them obscured a little. Might not be right for your project but I'd consider a steadicam on a longer lens (70-100mm) or even a much longer lens panning/tracking the subject on sticks or handheld ...maybe easy rig.

Edited by Albion Hockney
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  • 2 months later...

Bradley, I was going to mention TPBTP, Thanks for the Interview with Sean, must've missed that post, that Cooke Channel is great. To follow up here's a fantastic story from Derek about Sean shooting that scene:

The wall of text is worth it, trust me ;)


"So Andrij Parekh, who shot Blue Valentine, was supposed to shoot this movie. I got a call from Andrij about eight weeks before we started shooting, and he was crying. I was like, “What’s wrong?” He said that he had a dream that he died while making the movie the night before and did not think he could do our movie. I said, “It was a dream! It’s not real.” He said, “No, I have a kid, and I can’t do it.” So we were stuck eight weeks out without a D.P. [director of photography]. So I met a bunch of people, including Sean Bobbitt, and I loved his work on Hunger. Sean very quickly, very directly asked me, “What is wrong with your movie? Why did your D.P. drop out eight weeks out?” I said, “He dreamed he was going to die making it. Do you think you’re going to die making it?” He said, “Silly boy, I was a war photographer for eight years. I’m not going to die making your movie.” So great, he agreed to make my movie with me.


We started coming up with this visual style. Sean quickly decided that we needed to start the movie off with an epic opening shot, like so many of our favorite films, whether it be a Béla Tarr film or 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days orThe Player or A Touch of Evil. A shot that will kind of teach you as an audience how to watch the movie. At the end of this shot, Ryan Gosling goes inside this circus tent and he goes inside this cage where he is going to perform the Globe of Death.


Now the Globe of Death has been around for 60 or 70s years. There’s 22 people in America who can do it. And Ryan Gosling is not one of them. So we had to do this Texas switch. I’m sure if you watch the movie and pay attention, you can [where the stunt driver takes over for Gosling]. Now at the end of the shot, Sean Bobbitt insisted that he go into the globe for the end of the shot. I said, “Well, Sean, that’s crazy. There are going to be three motorcycles around you.” But he was determined that we end the shot in the center. I said, “O.K.” So he put on a helmet. He put on all of this body armor. He kind of looked like Robocop with the camera. He did this beautiful opening take. And the cage closes behind him at the end. He’s at the center of the cage, and the motorcycles start spinning around him. I was watching on my monitor, kind of hiding behind the bleachers, and it was beautiful. He had nailed the shot. All of a sudden my monitor went static and I heard a gasp from the audience.


I looked up and there was a pile of motorcycles with Sean Bobbitt on the bottom. We pulled the motorcycles off to see if Sean was O.K., and my initial thought was, “Oh my God. Andrij’s dream had come true. The D.P. of this film did die while making it.” But Sean didn’t die while making it. He was alive and angry. He was angry at himself for not getting the shot. I said, “Look at the bright side: you are still alive.” Even though I tried to convince him to get the shot from the outside, he insisted on going back in the center of the cage. He got the shot, and it was even better the second time. I don’t even know how he improved it. I was watching ,and then the screen went static at the exact same moment and heard a gasp from the audience. I looked up and I watched as a motorcycle dropped from the top of the cage onto Sean’s head and it knocked him out. We had to send him to the hospital. He had a concussion and then we had to cancel the shoot so that we could come back the next night. Sean was so grumpy and in such a bad mood, mostly because I would not let him go back into the center of the cage again."



Here's a link to the full article, for those interested.

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