Throwing the Shot List to the Four Winds

I’d like to do a post about something I learned while shooting A House for Marge.

The final film is planned to be about ten minutes long or less. The scenes are pretty tight. We worked hard with Aubrey Hansen to make sure we followed the screenwriting principle of getting in late and leaving early. Because of that, most of the scenes are very short.

I had storyboarded the scenes the way I would shoot a longer scene with lots of dialogue. You know, close up on each character, a wide, some mediums, maybe a two-shot, and possibly a dolly shot thrown in for good measure. But when we got on set and I started to see how the scenes were playing, I realized that in the edit, it would end up being too cut-y.

Well, my first reaction was to do a little internal panic. I was all set to just shoot it the way I’d planned and let the pieces fall where they would, when we started getting behind schedule.

Getting behind schedule can be a blessing or a curse. Sometimes it causes you to panic and forget to do important things, leaving you with some poor footage. This time, it was a wonderful blessing. Our cramped schedule forced us to fall back on that filmmaker instinct and just shoot the movie.

We ended up covering most of the scenes in a fraction of the shots I had planned. I haven’t seen the edit yet, but I think it will improve the pacing of the film, as we won’t be trying to use all the extraneous stuff I’d planned.

It turned out to be much more simple than I’d originally thought I wanted. Now, however, I realize that a simpler shot list fits the story better.

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