In our last post we dove into the creation of the most important planning document for a film: the shot list. Now we are going to see that shot list come to life and explore the creative decisions that we made for our debut film: Better Than You Doin You (don’t be mad)! Below I’ll discuss the different shot types and camera movements that we used and how they help to tell the story. Here we go! We begin with an establishing shot: a shot which establishes the scene rather than focusing on individual characters. This is the opening shot of the film so you can see the world the main character is about to enter into.
A full shot (head to toe) of the main character as she walks into the office setting that was established previously.
We use closeups and head and shoulders shots (like the three pictured below) to introduce the office worker characters, show their reactions to the main character, and for the main dancer to ‘interact’ with the audience. Closeups are the best way to showcase the characters and their emotions.
After the closeup introductions to the office workers we cut to a cowboy shot (cut just below the hip line) of the lead dancer. This change from closeups of the extras to a body shot of the lead dancer shows her distinction apart from them and that she’s taking control of the space around her.
Here are two examples in the film of us shooting most of the body and then cutting directly to a shot that is closer up of the dancer performing the same movement. This way we see the dancer set up the full movement with the body and can appreciate the dance’s athleticism. However, we then cut to a closeup so that the finer details like facial expressions and hand gestures can have their full effect.
Here is an example of us racking focus: a trick that directs the audience’s attention specifically from one subject to another while adding subtle drama. As you can see in the first picture to the left Rafael (the office worker), is in focus while Rachel (the dancer) is not. After a few seconds we ‘rack the focus’ so that Rafael is no longer in focus and Rachel is.
Some shots take the face out completely and focus on parts of the body (something especially useful for dance films). One of the more common uses in dance films is to show footwork as seen below.
This is an over the shoulder shot: filming over one character’s shoulder to look onto another subject or setting. It gives the feeling that you, the viewer, are taking on the perspective of the character who’s shoulder you are peering over.
This is the ending shot of the film: a long shot of the lead dancer with everyone else in the backdrop. We started the film showing the lead separate from the workers using the office desks as backdrops. In this final scene she dances with them but the backup dancers and office workers take on the role of providing the backdrop around her. Her backdrop is people rather than props for this final shot.
That’s it for this deep dive-in! I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more of what goes into the artistic process for one of these films! Let me know if you want more posts like this or any other content you would specifically like to learn about. I want to hear from you!
Thanks for reading and for your support!