Exterior Shoot: How to Block the Scene with Actors

 

Shooting The Scene

 

Lesson Info

Exterior Shoot: How to Block the Scene with Actors

Just relax and dizzy and I'm they are playing hope and dan or dan and hope and if I keep the orders order straight so let's s so what might happen at this point and I'm going to kind of take the role of the director because as the dp you're like at this point you're mostly just watching but what would happen if the director would come out and say all right, well here's here's my idea for the scene you guys will enter this scene right here through the door where you just did and um and I'm thinking I will refer to the script um so so where dan when when you say these line the first line so so when are you going to tell me who you are? I feel like that happens here and but that doesn't you would just kind of keep going through in this direction so we're going to do a little shot where where we push in here you guys come out and you know and dan you'd stop like maybe you're you're not quite sure you want to keep following her and we'll you know we'll see how much just in terms of the bloc...

king we'll see how this how this works if it feels weird we'll change it up a little bit but you know for now we'll start like that and um and so then so then does e you would walk out like this and come over this way and in the in the real world we want to end you we want you to end up standing somewhere around here but it seems like looking back that that's a really long way back to the door like why would you have walked all that way? So I feel like what what we're going to want to do is we're gonna we're gonna end up cheating it as though this is a much shorter distance so lex, if you wouldn't mind coming and standing what feels right like probably somewhere around here so so we're going to imagine in our imaginary world that this is about where that war is when we're looking this way if that makes any sense and when we're looking this way it'll all happen back over by the door it's as though we've picked up this big box, whatever it is and he kind of moved it over here but instead it's much easier if we just kind of ignore this twenty feet are eighteen feet of space between here and there we're just we're going to make it go away so we know we have a shot there you'll step out maybe about this far is that's him seem reasonable and then you know, and so now we've got the reverse angle here and and and you'll you might say this this might be the point where you say are you happy right and then and then lex you'd cross over and we need you to end up somewhere around in here so that so that you're backed up against the wall so that the rest of the movie can happen that makes any sense yeah well you know trying to keep the blocking a little simple just to avoid having to do a lot of setting up but you know so maybe yeah so if you end up somewhere around in there and yeah and then you might come a little closer to him right and then um so we know we're gonna have some angles this way and that way and again like right now lex is a little bit close to that wall for where we want to put the camera but he's at the right distance from for the wall for flying over the edge so when we turn around we're probably going to kind of you know basically imagine that we've picked these guys up move them this way a little bit so that we have room for our camera there but in terms of like the real world right now we're setting up with what it looks like in the real world this looks good it looks good this two shot is working out for me have got them the brewery in the background we've got some nice plants and and these uh these angles in this distance so now you know, we know these are the marks is now and I'm kind of think ofwhat other business we need to walk through you've got your notebook and your bag and so what we thought at the end is that, um you know so you wouldn't walk forward you have to touch him and you know and then right yeah do you think it's a push this is where I'm acting you is I'm asking you as like uh you know, write and then and and when that happens blacks were saying that you will drop your bag and your notebook on the ground ok, right? And then this is this this is the thing that we've only been imagining it I'm not quite sure what you know how this is all gonna work on this is what the rehearsal is about so at this point you dropped the you would drop the notebook in the bag right? And we have to figure out how to get your feet out of there. This is a mechanical trouble, but but I like this idea and then send out um lex if you just kind of exit this way and leave the notebook on the ground and then hope will pick it up and there's there's a note there and she signs her name death right? And then what does she do with the notebook afterwards? Do you suppose you take it you take it with you or do you leave it here? I think you believe it. Yeah so then you'd said it set it back down and that's interesting maybe that's the point where we read death yeah right I'm just thinking yeah, so we set it down like that and you know but then we know we want the last shot is like this you'll turn teo you kind of look that way and then walk off and and then we've got just the empty frame of the of the building ledge there for the mysterious clothes of the movie so that's you know, that's kind of our blocking so why don't we run it once? Why don't we just run through the run through the scene? Are you guys ready for that? Okay, so so I think you know, in terms of the cheat in terms of playing that she why don't we just start? You know well that that's not over by the door is just one special it's one special little shot where you walk in, why don't we just pretended for now that the door is here and we'll you know we'll start start looking this way okay and action when you gonna tell me where you are and what you do and I should have called the police by now but some reason I feel like I could trust you are you happy now so maybe like during that moment that you could start you could start your crossover so that just as she's saying that line you're you're walking you cross in front of her between between where I am okay okay uh it isn't what you do uh I should've called the police by now but for some reason I feel like I could trust you then are you happy? Yeah I guess so what usually it's me that does all the time when you see your mother tell her hello for me, will you okay then well yeah we'll figure out for the close up how to make the number clan all right spot alright, that seemed good. I feel like the other thing you could do is is you start your walk forward um you know, on the when you see your mother ok shot out yeah, jessica who you haven't really mentioned? Yes, right you're thankyou. So jessica actually submitted a script and to critics live and that's the script that we're shooting. So how often do you have the writer on the set on dh when you're when you're working it it depends. It depends a lot it's actually been more often than not some you know and the writers usually involved in the process somehow either as you know quite often as a producer of the of the project as well so you know you'll see writers that have a lot of creative influence and you'll also see writers who you never see yeah, but I'd say more often than not way actually have the writer there cool awesome. So speak up yeah, right exactly think jessica is this that's you know, that's a good point is this sort of unfolding kind of the way you you imagine it? Yeah, definitely, uh is hard. Did not steppin director she's that yeah, I think what would you like to step into director shoes? Because that would give us a chance. Tto, you know, talk about yeah. And would you you want to kind of take over at this point because we should have talked about this before, but I think the collaboration yeah, exactly. That's great. Thank you, jim. Yeah, like seeing him here, folding your very much on part to what I was had weii did talk about this a little bit in the previous workshop way when we did our tech scout. So s so pretty much we're going off of the decisions that we made on the text got at this point and then adopting them to make it I work for the for the way the action has to happen, I almost feel like we could cheat the doorway even a little closer to this spot too so that dan doesn't have tohave his big of across is that does that make sense totally definitely makes sense um I like that you said about having a cross as he's making a delivery the lines long dialogue it helps to speed up that cross yeah yeah I think yeah I sort of feel like they're you know and correct me if I'm wrong att very this very first line where he says you know it's uh when he's saying when are you going to tell me who you are and what you do he said you know I should have I should be calling the police like he's a he's a little hesitant about you know he's not quite sure whether he wants to follow her yet does not make sense so we're you know we're kind of building that and you know and then in terms of you know the sort of mood and tone things there has it needs to feel a little mysterious and you know we need tio have be ableto put a moment in there that's a little bit you know a little bit suspenseful maybe so we would do you know kind of slowly move in on him as he is saying that and you know we see that she's got some place to go and he's not quite sure whether he wants to follow her is that does that make sense? Yeah. Yeah, he doesn't know where this is going yet and you know and then at the end he realizes ok, I now I feel like I can trust you and you know but we let him have that line you let him get the line out still before he before he crosses and so then you know when she's saying down are you happy then? Well, we'll just you know, just actually saying that line we've let him cross through the frame so it's about finding a way to you know, to make that feel like it makes sense because when we shoot her angle here he can start wherever you know we don't see where he starts in the real world so he can start wherever it takes so that he makes the cross at the moment that we like that does that make sense? Yeah so I'm going to play producer today waken start shooting are you ready? I think we could yeah let's write up the first shot thanks. Yes, we could it's one of those things we could talk about for a long time so so we know that our first angle was looking this way we've got some marks st theresa can we can we threat on some marks for them and you know in this position where did teresa go? Okay, yeah let's um do you have some marking tapes all right we're gonna throw down a couple quick mark so that we know where we're headed that is usually the next thing so we've kind of rolled in you combined the marking rehearsal with the blocking rehearsal so if you wouldn't mind catching them here and there and then this this position over here is gonna be a cheat so we know what happens at the door we don't I'm not worried about that do you feel like this? This seemed like a good distance for you for the beginning of it seen yeah and then she walks forward and you come step forward to the pushing position if you don't mind okay and then while you're doing that I'm going to hook up my iphone and fire up artemus all right? You don't know who might not have been in your other work shot can you let us know what our mission is? Oh sure sorry I was just plugging it in no great artemus is apt for your iphone that that's you that's you frame up shots um okay good just had to choose my lenses and um they let you frame up shots using your iphone as the directors do you find her so I can I can you know, frame up what are sean's going to look like? So right now actors aaron kind of standing in there and position and I know I want to do a shot that that looks like this and you know and I also know that I want to you know I want to get something that's why then sweeping for this first for this first shot so I will go to the eighteen millimeter lens and you know and then because of our blocking, I know that there are imaginary wall for the scene is right about here, so so this seems like a reasonable frame to start with and we're going to do a little bit of moving so yeah, so teresa is going to see where where, how high I am and then we're going to throw down a quick mark on the ground, okay? And then I know I'm going to want to do a little bit of a push in something like this so yeah, we'll throw a little mark there since we don't have a boom it's all going to be one we have a twenty one millimeter lens, right? I think we do and so this is where okay, great. So I'm going to add a lens to our package and and put that up I felt like that that I had the eighteen on and this is like business definitely part of the process where you try something, you look at it and then you say, oh that's not that's not what I want and change it again so yes let's try this let's I want to back up just a little bit even though this is kind of faking the faking the where the wallace and then say would you mind coming over here and stand right about there where that blue mark is? Yeah, right so yeah and this does this feel like a good distance for the cross? It does? Yeah. Okay, so yet and this seems like a good size here too. So yeah so sorry. Let's therese if you don't mind let's reposition this mark here yes. Um so are we going to make the wall scene shorter in relation to the actors to make the push believable? You know, I'm not sure do and this is a good jessica question to do you feel like it's a push or do you feel like it's she'd magically touches him and he applause in mind it was like a spark of electricity, right? So you know and the nice thing about keeping the wall where it is you know, keeping it high is that we could be in a closer shot of blacks and still see that the edge of the building is there if as the wall goes lower, the shot has to be wider and wider and or it's a whole, you know, keep the audience aware of where the edge of the building is so that's kind of for me I wasn't arguing with that the actual physics of it because it's imaginary and you know like I still think that there's a philosophical question about whether hope is a you know exists physically here or whether you know dan has written a suicide note and that's what he was struggling to write the whole time and then he's gone off and jumped off the building and you know and so the interest like from the movie standpoint it's interesting tow wonder like what? What is that? And you know and how how do we know like in the script you never know what he's writing and then but then at the end you see that it's a suicide note so I feel like he's he's actually jumped but he's imagined all this is that do you think that that's the way it is? No actually she's definitely really but that's how my writing is leaving up for yeah, right and so but you know, if you want to play the director role how would you what would you change? How would you do it? Well, I guess I would I would leave it as um just her touching him but his reaction is more explosive golf so he it still leaves the question up in the air did she actually push him it's all up for interpretation? All you see is that but so yeah so you feel like she doesn't have to we don't have to show that she's put enough effort to make him go over the wall right? Okay, so there we go yeah, it seems like that's where we were where we were getting to yesterday so all right, so I think that I think the blocking that blocking still works, but the one thing we will I do realize is that we're gonna want something to kind of duplicate what that step does over here. So maybe we need to find an apple box or something like that, you know, which I think they might have them down in the studio of excellent. I love that the largest grip truck in the world is right here, so yeah, so we've got this shot and then we'll be pushing forward like this and then dan, if you don't mind walking in and this will probably cover her line are you happy and we can end up you know, you will find the second mark somewhere around in here. This would be an interesting time second friend, okay, great. And so this will be the first shot that we set up, so now we've got our marks on the ground we've figured it out with our view finder will put up the twenty one millimeter lens and and well they some dolly track

Class Description

There is no greater filmmaking challenge than translating one’s cinematic vision into a practical shooting plan that produces edit-able footage. In Shooting The Scene, renowned cinematographer Jim Denault, ASC teaches you how to take a production plan and shoot efficiently, economically, and artistically.

Jim’s award-winning work includes The Campaign, Boys Don't Cry, and Game Change. In this class, he’ll share insights from his experience shooting both indie and studio films and teach you how to translate your vision into a series of filmed units (aka “coverage”). You’ll learn how to:

  • Set the aesthetic and technical approaches for each shot
  • Determine how many shots you’ll need within a scene
  • Balance practical limitations and still acquire what's best for the scene

Shooting The Scene will help all cinematographers, camera operators, and filmmakers develop a more systematic approach to planning a shoot. You’ll become more equipped to take an idea that only lives in your mind and turn it into an actionable shooting plan.


Reviews

Kevin Baggott
 

I had worked briefly many years ago on a shoot that jim was the DP for. I was very impressed with how he ran the set. It was a great pleasure to watch this course. Learnt many things. I would highly recommend it.