Basics of Organizing a Shot List

All this time and effort has been put into creating an effective video content strategy, countless hours reviewing the scope of work and re-writing the script, tons of emails, meetings, and phone calls with clients to ensure they’re 100% confident in the brand story that’s been carefully designed - but as storytellers you’re happy to do it because this is your passion. Now the next step in your production process is to organize ideas into a plan of action with shot lists that will assure a smooth running production day. These checklists of sorts will truly aid in the production of your project and are best to be prepared as soon as the script is finalized to leave room for any adjustments necessary.


There is no set method for creating and organizing a shot list, they vary slightly depending on the content and length of each individual project, as well as personal preference. There are however a set of guidelines to keep in mind while preparing a shot list that will help to keep it uniform and easy to follow.


Shot location:

One of the first aspects of shooting a video - that has multiple scenes - is to remember that they do not have to be shot in chronological order. This one fact alone will save you time, money and energy on travel, resetting and striking the scene multiple times. Organize your shot list by location and group together all the scenes that are filmed in the same area either on the same day - if there is time - or within consecutive days. Also, keep in mind the timing you want to shoot each scene in as well this is especially important if you are shooting outside or in a naturally well lit room.


Characters:

After you have the location shots planned out and organized it’s time to list all the different characters within each location and scene. For example there might be 7 scenes filmed in the boardroom but only 3 of these scenes feature John and Sam. Organize the shot list to film each scene with these two characters consecutively and the remaining scenes in this location to be shot later. This is mostly about time efficiency and having the actors ready with hair, makeup and wardrobe once as opposed to on and off multiple times.


Equipment Setup and Camera Angles:

Within each scene the characters or products being filmed will all have specific angles in which they are to be highlighted through shot angles and lighting. Preparing the equipment setup organization ahead of time provides the operators with a guideline for proper set-up of all equipment necessary to the scene. Once the subject is ready to be shot it’s an easier flow than having to figure it out on the spot.


In the phases of pre-production before the shot list is finalized it’s important to have everything planned out separately such as the lighting plan, talent’s schedule and wardrobe. Once you have the shot list you should know the talent, props, lights, equipment etc. that will be in each scene. It’s also a good idea to be aware and have a list of shots you need i.e Wide shot, 2 shot, Over the shoulder, close up etc. Of course, not everything always goes according to plan in the case of scheduling conflicts or unforeseen complications but by having a shot list the production will run that much smoother.



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