Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Process of Scribbling My Shot Lists

I keep my films fresh in my mind for principle photography by waiting to do the creative stuff such as shot lists, layouts and stuff like that until maybe the last couple of weeks before go time. For this one, I'm starting now. There are still battles I am fighting with money, location, casting and workflow management. Heaven forbid I get all the logistics done and forget to do MY job.

I normally am my own Director of Photography because I'm ALWAYS the Editor and filming my own pictures and productions makes it easy for me to "cut in camera" as I shoot which saves me a lot of time and allows me to make sure I shoot for a smooth edit. Well for the first time since my Junior Thesis film, Ryan, (my mentor and only guy I would trust with my productions if I couldn't trust myself,) will be shooting camera. So my MAIN responsibility is to be able to tell him what to shoot.

Of course my shots will probably only be a blueprint for what we really end up shooting. (Ryan and I work well together with improv during shoots.) Maybe I'll scribe the shots I see in my head and Ryan can shoot those and then do a couple of takes the way he sees it. Ryan's hand held camera may rival some people's steadi-cam work so if you've kept up with the story of this film, you know that MOVING shots will be a must. So there is alot to scribble down because I would rather have to heavy a work load than not enough and with him and I silently compeiting for shots we should have at least a skeleton.

I normally hand write all shot lists w/ pencil so I can adjust it if different ideas come into play as I go. This film with my elaborate storyboard creation and just the amount of time I've had to study, invent and analyze the material, won't be done in normal fashion. It's straight black felt tip pen because honestly I know every frame I want. In fact, I probably wouldn't miss a shot if my notes went up in flames the night before the shoot. If I were shooting it myself and had no other creative input out there I know exactly what I want and what I would shoot. This justifies me doing this so early before PP. I don't recommend it in any other situation. Use every minute possible to envision your film.
The Method of Madness is simple: I draw the storyboards, sketches whatever as I read through the action of the script. Then I break down the scene into my categories: 1)Pace 2) Look/Environment 3) Actors 4) Tone. Then I jot my normal coverage shots like the master, OTS, MC, CU's. Then I analyze my 4 catergories, envision the story and get creative. Here's a couple of examples of the first scenes of the film and what we plan to shoot.

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