Tag: shot list

Magic Movie Moment: The Heat

Ashburn and Mullins wrestle and compete to be the first one in the door of the tenement building before their interview with Tatiana.

Basically the scene is an establishing shot of the building and of the two lead characters going in.

Gosh, filming establishing shots with lead characters entering buildings can be soooo boring: plop down the camera for a nice, informative wide shot and have the lead characters walk through the door. It’s a functional shot that puts the characters at the location (for the interior set about to see) and establishes for the viewer the type of neighbourhood. Seen a few of these establishing shots, haven’t you?

Well, in “The Heat,” this one-shot scene is so much more. They take the opportunity of revealing character at the same time: not just ‘walk into the building’ but HOW would these two walk into the building? Based on preceding scenes, these two are seriously competing with each other about everything – to a limit that makes their competition wildly humorous, and in this scene they efficiently demonstrate their competition (to get in the door first) in the single shot, and because the physical humour of the moment is so big (adding comedy to the scene), the camera doesn’t need to be placed near the action; the establishing shot angle from across the street works perfectly. So the one-shot scene establishes location, reveals character and uses the moment for some on-screen comedy… oh yeah, and because they’re so busy competing, Ashburn misses information (again) – that this is Mullins’ building.

What a magical movie moment!

Now think about the films you make. When next you’re planning an establishing shot, what other story functions can you add to the shot to elevate it to a magical movie moment instead?

Need more ideas? Look out for other magical establishing shots to inspire you. What magic have you seen recently?

Cheers and good shoot to you,


Deborah (Deb) Patz is the author of Write! Shoot! Edit! for teens and Film Production Management 101 for the industry – both books are published worldwide by MWP. She’s also part of the editorial board for Prism International. She was already in a building when she wrote this post (and didn’t have to wrestle anyone at the door to get in).

Sat.Feb.17 – Digital Youth Expo – Author Participant – North Vancouver
Mar.26-18 – Write! Shoot! Edit! Screenwriting Workshop for Teens – Instructor – VPL
Aug/18 – UFVA Conference – New Mexico

Paperback or eBook: AmazonBarnes & NobleChapters/Indigo, direct from the publisher, and plenty of other great bookstores worldwide.

Write Shoot Edit and Playmobil

Playing With Toys When Making A Movie

Write Shoot Edit and PlaymobilIf you know me, you know I love Playmobil. Having had two kids over a long span of years, I’ve had the excuse to collect and play with Playmobil long after the recommended age on the packaging.

Yesterday, however, I found a particularly fabulous piece: a teen with a cell phone and what at first thought was a plain, white book (it turned out to be a computer folded closed, but that’s just an e-book, isn’t it?). Well, I bought the figure, took it home and modified the ‘blank’ book cover with a mini-version of my book Write! Shoot! Edit! A Complete Guide for Teen Filmmakers.

Okay, so I’ve made the gal an obvious filmmaker by the modification. So what?

Here’s what…

I’ve worked on professional sets where the art department built models of their sets to the scale of Playmobil toys so they could place in the figures and let the director and DOP previsualize camera  angles and shots before committing to building full-scale sets or modifying locations. Sure a lot of previz happens on computer now, but why not use scale cardboard sets and Playmobil figures if that’s what you have access to on a low budget production?

Alternatively, if you don’t plan to (or can’t) build full-scale sets, but still love crafting models and playing with toys, design and construct model sets for toy figures and test out shots or sequences you want to film some day in the future. Still photos of each angle build an instant storyboard and visual shot list. Once assembled you can see your story coming closer into being. The point is: use what you have right now to experiment, create and learn (about the activity and about you)… right now!

This Playmobil figure I modified is a 3D representation of exactly that point, exactly what my book is aiming to inspire: whoever you are, start making their your stories with whatever technology is available to you right now!

And when you do, let me know what you’ve done; I love to hear your production, prep, previz and writing adventures.

All the best and great previz to you,

– – – – – – – – – –

Deb Patz is the author of Write! Shoot! Edit! for teens and Film Production Management 101 for the industry – both books are published worldwide by MWP. She’s also part of the editorial board for Prism International. She has enough Playmobil to recreate the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie in a fan fiction storyboard format… and has done so!

WHERE IS DEB? (upcoming events and appearances)
Wed.Nov.22 – Graduate Reader – UBC Graduate Reading Event
Sat.Feb.17 – Author Participant – Digital Media Youth Expo, North Vancouver, BC
Mar.26-28 – Instructor – Write! Shoot! Edit! Screenwriting Workshop for Teens – VPL

Paperback or eBook: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, direct from the publisher, and plenty of other great bookstores worldwide.