So, you’ve finished your future award-winning script and want to move onto the next step of pre-production. But, where do you start? By visualizing your masterpiece! 

A combination of your script, storyboarding, and shot lists will propel your vision forward into the production phase of filming. This article provides a solid shot list base (as well as downloadable shot list templates) to get you started. 

What’s a shot list?

A shot list is a guide that lists (and describes) all of the shots that need to be filmed during production. There’s no one way to go about it and different productions will require different shot lists with varying degrees of intricacy.

Can I have a shot list template?

Yes, of course! Our shot list template is available in four different formats.

Google Sheets(Recommended) Complete with dropdown lists and auto-populating magic, we recommend using this as it’s the most robust and useful of the three versions.

Microsoft Excel – Simple, minimal and right to the point. This format is great for organizing your thoughts on a busy, multiple-location day. It’s not formatted for print compatibility so it’s best to use this on your phone or tablet.

Microsoft Word No dropdown menus or auto-calculating numbers are available in this version. All criteria needs to be typed in manually. Formatting may differ across platforms and Word versions.

PDF – Here’s a plain ole PDF shot list that you can print and write on.

So, now what? If you’re still with us, let’s dive a bit deeper into shot lists and learn ways to use them to your advantage.

A case for storyboarding 

OK, we know you’re excited about the shot list templates. But, before you get going, it may be a good idea to draw up a storyboard. Storyboarding is a great way to visualize the major shots that move your story ahead. Use your storyboard as a springboard, and build your shot list around those anchor points. We get it, you’re no Walt Disney, but he’s not around anymore so surely you’re better than him at drawing now.

How to piece your shot list together

At Vimeo, we create a shot list for each shooting day, but you can also work off of one big list. Decide how you want to organize and go from there.

There are two parts to this process. The first part is picking and designing your shots with your director of photography. The second part is organizing (and scheduling) those shoots. The templates above allow you to accomplish both.

Pro tip: Keep in mind that typically you shoot out of order. Let’s say your actors are a coffee shop in the beginning of your film, then they end up at a hospital, and at the end of the film they’re back in the coffee shop again (personally, I wouldn’t go back to a coffee shop that landed me in a hospital, but alas). You’ll want to shoot both coffee shop scenes at the same time. Keep those repeat locations in mind when you’re grouping your shots!

If you’re a Smarty McSmartpants and just want to use our templates and get shooting, go for it. But head to our shot list glossary if you’re craving more information about what we include in our shot lists. 

Browse our shot list glossary

Art by Coco McGuire.