Making a Shot List
Now that you know how to format a script, it's time to organize your final draft into a clear and concise shot list. A shot list is a full log of all the shots you want to include in your film; essentially it is a checklist filled with minute details that will give your film a sense of direction and efficiency.
Shot lists help you consider shooting footage based on location and setup; not necessarily in the order of the story. Say your shoot starts at a supermarket, moves to a bank, and ends at the supermarket. With a shot list ready you can more quickly shoot all the scenes at the supermarket first, and then shoot the rest at the bank later on in the day. Simple enough, right?
Below is part of the script from the latest original short Vimeo Man.
It is annotated with shot terminology, a shot list allows you to clearly organize and display these terms. Here is a snippet from our completed shot list.
As you can see, our shot list template includes columns for the scene number, shot number, location, shot description, framing, action/dialogue, actors involved, props needed, and extra notes.
- Scene Number + Shot Number help to break down a scene into a certain number of shots. For each scene we use a number and each shot we use a letter.
- Shot Description should include a subject and an action, for example "Matt bites an apple".
- Framing describes the vantage point from which you choose to shoot and the aspect of your subject you wish to capture. Check out an array of different shot types here.
- Action helps to express camera movement, for example 'Camera dollies towards Vimeo Man' or 'Pan to Sam'.
- Dialogue gives a snippet of the characters conversation within the shot.
It is important to keep in mind that everyone works differently. Your shot list doesn't have to follow this format, switch it up, make it your own!
To make your shot list, start by brainstorming a long list of everything you might want to shoot. This first list should be a smorgasbord of different shots and angles, some of which you won't shoot at all. There is no harm in over-preparing, so grab that script and start marking it up! Once you've completed this step, transfer the shot information over to your official shot list page, and walla! You've got your shot list. From this point, put on your directors cap and start making phone calls to your cast and crew.
Although it might take some extra time to prepare, having a shot list will help make sure you get all the different angles and takes that help tell your story in the most complete and coherent manner. If you feel like you need a visual aid to accompany your shot list, I would suggest taking a look at our lesson on storyboarding!
So you've written a script! Awesome! Now it's time to turn that script into a film. Creating a shot list is one of the simplest organizational techniques you can use to get your film on the right track.
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