F-Up #62 “Cinematography Happens While Shooting”

You have met with the director. You have figured out the look, the style, and the tone of the film, and you’ve analyzed scenes visualizing the shots as you see them in your head. Now it’s time to create a shot list. A shot list is the list of precise shots you will make for a film. It’s broken down scene by scene, and is usually in the order in which you intend to shoot irrespective of how it will be edited.

Some directors bring in a storyboard artist to make sketches depicting, on paper, what they’ve imagined. If they are multitalented like director Terry Gilliam or Martin Scorsese, they may sketch out the whole film themselves. A storyboard (Figure 5.1) could provide some of the same information. But a storyboard is by definition the shots in edited order, and may repeat shots (as in alternating close-ups in a conversation) that are one shot, only cut up into pieces. Figure 5.2 shows a script page with a scene involving four people. Following is an illustration of a shot list for that scene:


Thurs 6/28


O/S1 Belinda over Bowie

O/S Bowie over Belinda

(Shoot Bowie from below, Belinda from above)

Med Wide for bump—+Frank & Eve

CU Belinda

CU Eve


Figure 5.1 A storyboard. Reproduced with permission of Mark Simon from his book Storyboards: Motion in Art. Storyboards by Mark Simon on the movie The Disciples (

the shot list

Figure 5.2 A script page. From the film To Live and Die in Dixie. Reproduced with permission of GVSU Summer Film Project.

So you will still need a shot list like this to know what you need to do on the set and to communicate to the rest of the crew, especially to the AD. At this point in your planning you will have determined whether you’ll be shooting on sets at a studio or at locations out in the field or a combination of the two. The more you know about where you’ll be shooting, the more realistic and useful your shot list will be when you’re in production.

Excerpted from First-Time Filmmaker F*&^ Ups by Daryl Bob Goldberg ©2011 Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.  


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