For this post I thought if would be nice to dive a bit deeper into some of the behind the scenes of making one of our films. Today we are going to talk about my favorite part of the pre-production process: creating a shot list! We will be using our film Better Than You Doin You (don’t be mad) for our examples. A shot list is a detailed checklist that serves as the roadmap for the film’s shoot. The document describes the technical specifications for each shot so all of the crew are on the same page for the demands of each shot, what they are supposed to look like, and how they relate to the overall arc of the film. This is the most important planning document for the pre-production process of a film. It is the the product of the director and cinematographer deciding how they will visually tell the story. Below is a look at the first few shots from our shotlist for Better Than You Doin You (don’t be mad). You can click on the image to enlarge it.

The information you will find commonly among all shotlists is:

  • the shot number
  • the shot size: how close in are you viewing the subject?
  • the shot type: is the camera eye level? Angled upward? How many people are in the shot?
  • the movement of the camera: examples of movements are dollying, tracking, tilting, panning
  • which actors or dancers are in the shot
  • a basic shot description: which line in the script or piece of choreography is happening in the shot

Other information that can be included depending on the unique needs of the project is:

  • the camera that will be used
  • lighting
  • whether the shot is taken indoors or outdoors
  • sets, props, and backdrops
  • costume, hair, and makeup changes
  • whether or not sound will be recorded
  • editing notes

On the shoot for a dance film, the word ACTION is not very helpful when calling the start of a shot. The dancers are dancing to specific parts of the music–that music is the real action cue. So for my shot lists, I instead write where in the music the shot begins and ends, and the music counts that the director or assistant director should call before the dancers start.

As you can see below, the shot list is numbered in order of how they appear in the film but are shot in an order that makes sense for an efficient shooting schedule. So shot 1 (the opening shot) is actually the 14th one we shot that day.

So there you have a little introduction into this incredibly important stage for shooting one of our dance films. Make sure to check our next post for a look at how our shot list decisions came to life on screen for our debut film, “Better Than You Doin You (don’t be mad)!

Thanks so much for reading and for your support!

xoxo Caroline