Building Our Shot List

After many days and hours of work and thorough discussion, Zak and I have completed our shot list. This is a major milestone for us in pre-production, because we now have a much clearer sense of what we are setting out to achieve when filming. As we continue to scout and re-scout locations, our shot list becomes the reference point for everything. A shot list is literally a list of every single shot in a movie. Shots can also be referred to as "setups" as every shot has the camera set up in different way and location. The process of building a shot list is simply going through the script page by page and determining what you want to show and how. Even though determining your shot list is a creative task, the considerations are entirely technical and logistical. At present, Passing Harold Blumenthal has almost 250 different shots. I'd have guessed there would be more, but this is plenty.

Things to Consider when Building the Shot List:

  • What is the layout of our location?(Can a jib fit in the bedroom?)
  • What is the action of the scene that we are trying to convey? (How do I make sense of this? Who wrote this?)
  • How do I envision the final edit of the film? (How will this piece together?)
  • What is the overall visual style and approach to the film? (What would look cool? Or at least make me look cool?)
  • What are the technical considerations/equipment needed for a shot?(Can we afford the awesome tracking shot through the heart of Chinatown?)
  • How much time do we have to get this scene done? (We don't have enough time to get this scene done!)
Ultimately, the shot list will wind up in the hands of our First Assistant Director, Brad, who will scrutinize it for details, make notes and then use it as our guide-book as he navigates us through every day of shooting. On-set, the shot list is our bible. If we've done the necessary thinking ahead of time and accurately documented it in the shot list, we can trust that we've captured every angle, insert, and moment before moving on to the next scene. In addition to compiling a shot list, we will have  over-head diagrams of each location with notations of where the camera will be placed. I will also have some selected scenes storyboarded. I do my own storyboards as simple stick figure drawings, but I find it extremely helpful to go through the process of "seeing" the film.
More to come. I should start Twittering more.