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Shooting Scenes


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#1 Phil Lawrence

Phil Lawrence

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 04:28 PM

I am looking for some advice and thoughts regarding shooting scenes. Let?s say I have a page and a half of script that is heavy on dialogue and pretty intense ? I know I am going to want a fair amount of coverage (especially since I come from an editing background) but I don?t want to loose the energy of the scene.

Is it recommended to shoot the entire scene wide and then shoot only the close ups/reactions that I know I want? Or, is it better for the actors to play through the entire scene for each element of coverage?

Also, along the same lines, what are your opinions about shooting multiple scenes in a location or set up (for efficiency) even though they may take place in different times in the story and at different moments in the character?s arc.

Thanks for any and all advice.

Phil
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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 18 July 2006 - 12:29 AM

This is a very broad topic and you're bound to get a hundred different viable answers. The thing that drives it all is how you want the scene to play out on the screen, once it's all put together. If you start thinking of the logisitics first, then you run the risk of sucking the life and character out of a scene for the sake of technical expedience.

I would say first off that the style of the movie will dictate a certain approach (fast cut, handheld, wide masters; whatever). Beyond that, you break down each scene into more manageable chunks of time, action, or dialogue. Within those chunks you'll work out the blocking and coverage. Rehearsals and table reads with the actors help you find the points of drama and action, along with the dead spots in the script. Once you and the actors get the scene worked out for drama, then you can start to deal with the blocking and covergae necessary to capture it.

Some directors who are very camera- and edit-savvy can be very selective on their coverage and get good material. Others try to get a lot of coverage with multiple cameras. Neither approach is inherently better, just a better choice for the material and your way of working. Actors will have their own preferences as well; many need some "lead in" to get to a certain emotional place, especially if it's intense. For something like this, I always try to find a way to let the actors have what they need, even if it means rolling "late" with the camera.

It's pretty standard to "shoot out" a location, that is shoot all the scenes that take place there in the script, but film them out of sequence. This is part of the fun for me as a DP, making mid-day look like morning and then turning around and making it look like an evening that's later in the story.
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