Your shooting style/ how to make your movie the best it can be

Discussion in 'Fan Films, Fan Audio & SciFi 3D' started by BigManEntertainment, Jan 7, 2007.

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  1. BigManEntertainment Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 8, 2005
    star 1
    We have been shooting today and I wondered. We kinda had an idea or what we wanted, but we just let loose and winged it. We did some Gurilla shooting by just running around and shooting stuff and I wondered how do you guys film stuff? What are your styles or shooting your scenes? I am actually asking you guys because I am trying to learn stuff about film and see how to make our film the best it can possibly be. Can you help? Also what other advise could you give to those who want their movie as proffesional looking and cool as possible?
  2. Lord_Charisma Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 9, 2001
    star 4
    Our most recent vid was storyboarded completely, so we knew exactly what angles to take. It looks so much better than anything we've done before, aided with a steadicam and track dolly.

    Before, we just came up with stuff on the day. We accidentally stumbled across some great ideas just shooting what comes to mind, but I'm starting to really be glad that we took the time to completely storyboard our 20-minute film.
  3. voorheesdude Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 3, 2003
    star 2
    I do what I call "Donner Coverage".

    Since I work with experienced actors, they already have their dialogue memorized so I shoot each scene from every anlge I can possibly get. CU on each character, wide angle with all characters in frame, Medium Shots, etc. I know what I want but when I get to a location, I feel if I get complete coverage, I will have more control over my final edit. What angle looks great, which doesn't, which fits the needs of the characters and the context of the scene. The only issue with complete coverage is the actors must recite their dialogue repeatedly and that each angle requires me to have to change the lighting set up for every angle set up for the coverage..

    For my next film, however, every angle will planned and we will have visual storyboards to work with so complete coverage won't be needed.
  4. Laszlo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 9, 2006
    star 4
    Style of shooting eh?

    Well, last two films I directed I tried to go completely tripod-less as much as possible. Some cases we had storyboards but those were mainly to set up the opening shot, most of the times the camera was free after that. Where possible I have the actors go though the scene completely, whether walking, fighting or exposition, I like to keep them ?in the zone? as much as possible. With each other take the attention of the camera changes to a different character as the crew go though the same routine.

    After the fact it was described as the ?camera being a character? all it's own; for me the description stuck as a basis for 'my style' ? depending on who is DP at the time. There?s a lot of fine tuning I?ve to do yet though.
  5. Boter Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2002
    star 4
    My shooting style is similar to Laszlo's, though depending on the style or genre of film I'm more inclined to use a tripod. (I have a steady hand with a camera, but for things like Star Wars, a locked-off shot is good, especially for effects-heavy shots). I'll get at least two takes of one angle, then move to the next; depending on the location, On average, I get two or three angles that cover the same action or dialogue, and those angles differ throughout the scene, especially if people are moving about in the location.

    The only exception to all of this is if I'm shooting in fading sunlight. My latest creation was a fun one-off project where I got but one shot of each angle, and one angle of each action; I had a very good idea in my head of how it was going to be edited, and fortunately it worked, unlike one evening with Stargate: Hades over the summer, where we re-shot the scene a month or two later.
  6. NateCaauwe Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2005
    star 4
    When I shoot on greenscreen I tend to lock the camera off more (small greenscreen) and utilize storyboards mostly to just keep track of all the possible angles we'd like, and not neccessarilly the editing of the scene. But I prefer to shoot on location or a real set we can interact with more, in which case I like to stay handheld or steadicam as much as possible. Many times we let the scene run through from beginning to end, and very seldom cut away. I've always admired Shyamalan and Cuarón with their long takes that you really don't notice until you stop to think about it, plus most of my friends come from stage acting, so they're used to playing through a whole scene like that.
  7. NitroBlade Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 13, 2004
    star 4
    I hate storyboards. I suppose it's because I love doing random photography.

    But for something I just shot this weekend I brought the DOP on location once and we went through possible shots for on set. It helped to go smoother on set.

    If you don't have a storyboard, like me, always always always have a shot list. Shot lists are to communicate to the crew and to help yourself keep track, especially if you get the proper shots.


    Be sure to communicate in your shot list, like:

    MS - 2 shot - Devon and Jane - Scene 2



    And then just cross it out as you do it. It helps a lot.

    Also, be sure to shoot scenes in this order:

    Master Shot, Medium shots, Close Ups and Extra shots.

    The master shot is capturing everything all at once, either a long shot or a medium shot, just to capture all the actors and actions and doing the whole scene. This is so you have something to cut to from other shots. Also you do it in this order so if you run out of time you at least have something workable.

    Doing a master shot then doing mediums then closeups of the subjects helps A LOT in making a film look more professional in editing, plus makes it easier to edit. This way if you like one half of a CU, you can put it in, then go to the master shot, then the second half of another CU.

    As for my style, well I love shaky cam, but I prefer static shots. I love to have extreme long shots, and then go to close ups, even profile shots of faces. Kind of western style of shooting. It's nice and gives it a deep cool feel to it all.

    I use shaky cam for when it's a more intense scene, like taking out a gun or someone getting emotional and screaming.
  8. DarthDodobird Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2003
    star 2
    IMO, it's sometimes hard to have both. The coolest things I've seen done are usually the things that are the least normal, the least "standard movie"ish.

    If your goal is professional looking, you can always whip out some sort of 3 point lighting system.

    If you want it cool looking, you can always do the opposite of that. Just use the rim light to illuminate just the edge of your subject, And have it, like, change colors. And give the subject round glasses, which only appear as red circles due to the bright red tagboard you set up right below the camera that they're reflecting. I dunno.

    Not to say the two are mutually exclusive, but the coolest things are often the things that have never been seen before, and you can't get things that have never been seen before by emulating movies that have been seen before (dang. Is it really almost 4am?)
  9. Laszlo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 9, 2006
    star 4
    I should note that though I like ?hand held? I don?t care for ?shaky cam? all that much. It suits for the new Battlestar Galactica, for example, but I like my movements more fluid.

    I?ve seriously got to get back work on adapting a steady cam unit from that busted tripod. *sigh* One more gadget to carry.
  10. jbird69 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2000
    star 4
    I've found that it makes a shoot go faster if I can have 2 cameras on set, but that is rare. I create storyboards for everything, since actors aren't very experienced, so they can see the final product. Of course, once I get on set, that may change.

    I always get the actors input and sometimes shoot based on their suggestions. I always get multiple takes to ensure I won't have any problems in post.
  11. Covert-Sniper Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 21, 2006
    star 2
    When I shot my movie, I shot it with three cameras on tripods. I use a green screen in my garage. After using three cameras, I won't do it any other way again. It is so much easier, so many more editing options. I never use story boards, I have it all in the head. I visual what I want, then make it happen.
  12. G-Unit Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2004
    star 4
    Yeah, I stick to the master shot and closer rules as well.
  13. EricBranco Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2006
    It's hard to say what my style is, because as a DP, I'm not at a level where I can pick and choose my projects. I often shoot things that aren't really my style, or where the director wants something that I would never in a millions years choose to do. The "style" I enjoy shooting most is very naturalistic, preferably handheld with under-exposed interiors and over-exposed exteriors.

    The only thing that I consistently do on every project is light scene-to-scene as opposed to shot-to-shot. I'll usually spend an hour or two lighting for the entire day, and then usually only need to spend between 5 and 10 minutes between setups. I almost never re-light for a new shot, just tweak what I've already put in the room.


    - Branco
  14. Vigilante74 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 13, 2004
    star 4
    The funny thing about style is that it will surface on its own without any conscious intervention by you. After you make several films, go back and watch them. You'll start to notice that you've developed your own personal style. You'll notice that little things will start to become obvious - perhaps the way you light certain scenes; or the way you shoot women differently than men; or that every film has water in it. You'll definitely notice.

    The worst thing that can happen is if you try to force style. I call those...art films. hehe
  15. durbnpoisn TFN Staff Cast & Crew Database

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 20, 2002
    star 5
    This may sound like a funny thing to say, but, I don't necessarily think you should be overthinking stuff like "Style".

    You, as the director, should have in mind what you want the scene to look like once it's shot. And as such, you can see it already, more or less, in your minds eye. So, you should try to point the camera, and light the scene accordingly.

    If you have no clear idea what you want the scene to look at, you should consider getting someone else to direct, or at least get yourself a good DP.

    I mean... I know I'm a hack of a filmmaker by some people's standards. But whenever I've shot anything, I just kinda planned out what I wanted it to look like, and made the camera capture what I wanted. It never occurred to me to think of any particular "style"
  16. TrowaGP02a Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 24, 2004
    star 4
    Style is just something that happens. I think it's harder to find a style you like by watching other film, but rather, going out and shooting film after film. After a while you'll notice what shots you like more than others, and then figure out why you like those shots.

    I'm partial to longer, wider shot usually with a tripod. Although theres no way to make a movie 100% hand-held or 100% tripod-ed. As long as lighting goes, I tend to like very dramatic and high-contrasted lighting. As I think Rico said above, I also enjoy over-exposed exteriors and under-exposed interiors.
  17. Laszlo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 9, 2006
    star 4
    Yea, style kinda happens after the fact. You can go out with the intention of doing X shot or Y framing from your favorite movie, but it will alway be different. You'll always have someone else trying to define your style. I remember my early projects and a random guy mentioned 'hey, that's very anime' and I just blinked in reponse.

    The trick, of course, is not to fight it.
  18. BojacRedleif Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 1, 2004
    star 3
    LOTS AND LOTS OF CHEESE SHOTS

    That's my style and I'm stickin to it.

    -edit-

    -Guerilla filmmaking is not as fun as we let it seem. It's harder to get some great shots without getting asked to leave the premises...
    Especially when that part you're shooting on has a chain going around it.

    I also have atleast 2 copies of the script, one for the actors, and another for me to write notes on and to be able to scratch off parts we've shot.
  19. DarthDodobird Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 26, 2003
    star 2
    I don't know...

    why individual style happens after the fact, I don't think it's wrong to put a little intentional style in there. Styling a scene or movie after the shots of a certain genre is a valuable tool for conveying a message to the viewer. It's another use of symbolism, one which can be one of the more subtle, but highly effective. And symbolism (particularly in shorts, when meanings have to be conveyed quickly) can be a great tool.
  20. Covert-Sniper Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 21, 2006
    star 2
    I agree completely. When I take shots, I know exactly how I want it, what angle, and hows its going to look once its completely done. I believe it is very important for directors to be able to visualize what they are looking for.
  21. jbird69 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2000
    star 4

    This may sound like a dumb question, but are all 3 cameras the same model? And props for being able to afford 3!
  22. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Actually, I somewhat disagree.

    While it is a good thing to know composition, and if you've got a strong vision you should go for it, I think too many directors focus too hard on it to the detriment of their performers, and try to make themselves do the camera even if it's not really their thing.

    In the early days of Hollywood, the director was the guy who told the actors how to perform, and the director of photography was the one who decided how it was going to be shot. That's sometimes the case today, but so rarely that it almost never happens. And usually if it does happen, it's the DP taking over when the director is being too vague, but still insisting on being the one to "decide how it's shot".

    If your strength is working with actors, consider JUST being an actor's director and teaming up with a DP whose style you like, and let them take care of the shots. If you really like getting a good shot and don't so much enjoy actors, consider honing your skills as a DP and finding directors who are good with actors and not so interested in the camera.

    Again, I'm not saying that if you have an eye for shots AND a knack for actors you shouldn't do both as a director. But I don't think you should feel like you HAVE to mastermind the camera to be a good director. If it's not your thing, don't make yourself do it. Find someone who's got that skill and passion instead.

    This, too, is a dangerous attitude to have and one I think people say more than it's really true (not to say you're one of them).

    I think a lot of people think that being a director means you've got the whole movie in your head at all times, and it's a sign of weakness or low talent to have to use storyboards.

    The truth is, Hitchcock (who was said to have every shot and cut of the film in his head) used storyboards. Spielberg uses storyboards. The Wachowskis had walls of storyboards. Most of your heroes probably use boards, and those who don't probably have really good DPs they rely on.

    I personally find storyboards to be valuable even if -- especially if -- I have a clear idea of how I want something to be shot. It's easy to say "I've got it all in my head" but once you're shooting, you've got to have a lot more stuff in your head than just the shots. The cast and crew have questions, you need to have the answers, and it's easy to end up forgetting a shot in the midst of it all, especially if no one else knows what shots you want.

    Having storyboards means that you get that information out of your brain in a concrete form. Others can see it and help you achieve it, you don't have to try to remember it while answering a million other questions, and if you haven't gotten a shot, you are aware of it because you haven't crossed it off yet.

    I think the attitude of having it all in your head does more harm than good, when a director shows up relatively unprepared for a shoot because he wants to appear to have it all in his brilliant mind.

    Remember that you are not required to follow your storyboards. If nothing else, consider them a backup plan. If you get those shots, you know you can make the movie work. If you come up with some better shots on the day, by all means get them.

    M. Scott
  23. EricBranco Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2006
    This is really the crux of why it's important to board. Storyboards are really about communication, in more ways than one might think. Obviously storyboards are helpful in knowing what needs to be shot, but if that's all you're going to need them for (i.e. if you're the only crew member that would deal with framing or lighting), you're better off just making a shot list. For a while in film school, I boarded everything. Down to the last shot. It became obvious later on, however, that boards were a crutch for me. As long as I was sitting in a room drawing storyboards, I felt like I was preparing myself for shooting. After a couple movies I realized that I wasn't showing these boards to anyone, and *I* was only looking at them to cross off what had already been shot. I came to the conclusion that there wasn't really a point to spending that time drawing when I could spend half of it writing down a simple shot list, and the other half breaking down the script and ACTUALLY working towards a better movie.

    Nowadays, I see boards as more of a pitching tool than anything else. On the type of sets I work on (under 5 million) they're not helpful for lighting, they're not helpful for blocking, and the DP is usually the operator anyway. The way I see it, on films of the level that most of us work on, boards aren't the most useful thing on the planet. 9 times out of 10, a shot list will get you further.


    - Branco
  24. Covert-Sniper Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 21, 2006
    star 2
    Two were the same model, used for medium and close ups, and then I used my parents camera, for wide shots. They all shot the same type of footage. The biggest difference in the cameras is that the two identical ones can shoot in wide screen. Buying three cameras would be expensive, but me and my sister got them for christmas.(just days before we started shooting!)

    On the contrary dorkman, I believe story boards to be a great asset, but a: I can't draw very well. b: I do practically everything for my movie, so I know how I am going to end up doing stuff. c: I am not working with a crew, so they're isn't a great need to communicate, except with the actors, but I just show them what I want them to do for that shot, and hope they do it right, and if they don't, I get to yell at them(jk lol). I'm not putting down story boards, but I just don't do too well with them. In some ways that is a strength, and in more ways that is a weakness. nuff said[:D]
  25. NitroBlade Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 13, 2004
    star 4
    I completely agree. Storyboards can sometimes just be a waste of time. You don't have a year to work on pre-production, or sometimes a few months like some feature films. You can't bring in proffesional storyboard artists that can draw what you're thinking on the spot. And even if you had these two luxuries, most of the time the storyboards won't be followed.

    I used to stroyboard everything for school, but found myself regretting the shot I planned or not using the shot I had planned. Not to mention that I wasn't great at drawing so the storyboards would look funny. I just do a shot list. If I want something specific I may sketch something with the DOP before hand. But I know the lingo, and I know what I want to communicate with the DOP and if I want something specific I tell the DOP, but if not then I let the DOP interpret my shot list.

    This way I focus more on the story and the script.
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