As a filmmaker, I understand the importance of planning every aspect of a film production. One of the most crucial aspects of the pre-production process is creating a shot list. A shot list is a document that outlines all the shots needed to capture a scene in a film or video. It serves as a roadmap for the director, cinematographer, and the entire film crew.
Understanding shot lists is essential for anyone involved in film production. Shot lists are guidelines on a technical level, laying out every detail, angle, and movement that will be captured on camera. They provide a sense of direction and preparedness for the film crew, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and that the shoot runs smoothly.
In this article, I will explain the importance of shot lists, types of shots in a shot list, common mistakes to avoid when creating a shot list, and the role of shot lists in film production. I also have a shot list template available for you do download.
- Shot lists are essential documents that outline all the shots needed to capture a scene in a film or video.
- A shot list provides a sense of direction and preparedness for the film crew, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and that the shoot runs smoothly.
- When creating a shot list, it is important to avoid common mistakes and to understand the different types of shots that can be included.
What is a Shot List?
A shot list is a detailed document that outlines every shot that will be taken during a film or video shoot. It’s an essential tool that helps stay organized, focused, and efficient on set.
This is created, so the Assistant Director and Cinematographer know what they have to capture visually to tell the story of the film.
A shot list typically includes information about the camera angle, camera movement, framing, lighting, and any other technical details that are necessary to capture the shot correctly. It also includes information about the scene, such as the location, the actors involved, and any props or special effects that are required.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when creating a shot list is to be as detailed as possible. Each shot should be given a unique number and described in detail, including the camera angle, movement, and framing. This level of detail helps the director and cinematographer stay on the same page and ensures that everyone knows what is expected of them on set.
In addition to being a valuable tool for the director and cinematographer, a shot list can also be helpful for other members of the film crew, such as the sound technician, art director, and makeup artist. By providing detailed information about each shot, everyone involved in the production can work together to create a cohesive and professional-looking film or video.
Overall, a shot list is an essential tool for any filmmaker. It helps to ensure that the production runs smoothly, that everyone is on the same page, and that the final product looks and feels like it was created by a professional team.
The Importance of a Shot List
A shot list is a detailed document that outlines every shot that will be captured during filming. It’s an invaluable tool that helps ensure that nothing is overlooked and that every shot is captured efficiently and effectively.
One of the main benefits of a shot list is that it provides a clear plan for the entire crew. By having a detailed shot list, everyone involved in the production can be on the same page and understand what needs to be done. This can help save time and prevent confusion during filming, which is essential when working on a tight schedule.
Another advantage of a shot list is that it allows the director to visualize the entire scene before filming even begins. This can help identify potential issues and ensure that the scene is shot in the most effective way possible. By having a clear plan in place, the director can focus on capturing the best possible shots and not worry about missing anything important.
A shot list can also help with post-production. By having a detailed list of shots, the editor can easily find the footage they need and put together a cohesive final product. This can save time and prevent the need for additional filming or reshoots.
Overall, a shot list is an essential tool for any filmmaker. It helps ensure that the production runs smoothly, saves time, and ensures that the final product is the best it can be. As a filmmaker, I always make sure to create a detailed shot list before filming to ensure that everything goes according to plan.
What Does a Shot List Include?
All shot lists include these key elements, but they’ll be formatted slightly differently from Director to Director. However, all shot lists will consist of the following:
- Scene number
- Shot number
- The description
- Equipment needed
- Shot size
- Audio used
- Lens needed
- Time estimate
- Camera used
- Cast used
- Your best take
Let’s briefly break down each element of this shot list example.
1. Scene number
The scene number is the number of the scene you are currently filming. This is to distinguish the scene of the shot taking place. Smaller productions that shoot all in one go may not need to use this.
This is for every time you shoot with a new camera. As soon as you reposition the cameras or change the lighting setup, you update the setup column. This is useful if you are looking to group shots together, as it will save time on the shoot.
3. Shot number
The shot number is simply the number of the shot. Every time you change the shot, the number increases. Some Directors prefer to reset the shot number per scene as they find it easier to manage this way.
4. The description
This column is simply to describe what stage you are at in your script. List what the subject is – is it a prop, actor, actors, or a setting. Describe what’s actually happening in this scene and all of the action that entails.
The description will tell your Director what is exactly happening to ensure everyone knows the score when it comes to the shoot day.
5. Equipment needed
This column is the column you use to list the equipment supporting the camera, for instance, the Dolly, Steadicam, or Tripod.
The movement column is to simply show what movement the camera is making in the scene. Use it to describe the motion (pan, dolly, zoom, still, etc.).
We use this header to describe the angle from which the shot is being taken from. Whether it’s a high-angle, an eye-level angle, or a low-angle, use this column to describe the angle of the shot.
8. Shot size
Here we describe the size of the shot. Having different shot sizes allows you to tell the story from different perspectives, and the change in shot size helps to build different feelings and effects.
What are the different types of shots shot sizes in film?
There are multiple shots and shot sizes in filmmaking to help you tell your story. Each shot is used for different reasons.
For example, a super-wide shot or wide shot is used as an “establishing shot.” This establishes the location, the character’s world, and tells the audience where they are currently in the film.
Whereas, a close up shows the raw emotion of the character and helps the audience connect with the character on an emotional level.
Here is an overview of the shot sizes you’ll be using. Read our guide on shot angles and framing here.
Here are a few shot list examples for shot size:
A wide shot, also known as a long shot, is a shot that shows the subject from a distance. It is often used to establish the setting or location of a scene. A wide shot can also be used to show the relationship between the subject and the environment. In a shot list, a wide shot is often abbreviated as WS.
A medium shot shows the subject from the waist up. It is used to show the subject in relation to their surroundings. A medium shot can be used to show the subject’s body language and facial expressions. In a shot list, a medium shot is often abbreviated as MS.
A close-up shot shows the subject’s face or a specific detail of the subject. It is used to emphasize the subject’s emotions or reactions. A close-up shot can also be used to show an important object or detail. In a shot list, a close-up shot is often abbreviated as CU.
A cut-in shot is a close-up shot of a specific detail or object in the scene. It is used to draw attention to the detail or object. A cut-in shot can also be used to show the subject’s reaction to the detail or object. In a shot list, a cut-in shot is often abbreviated as CI.
Point of View Shot
A point of view shot is a shot that shows the scene from the perspective of one of the characters. It is used to immerse the audience in the scene and to show the character’s perspective. A point of view shot can also be used to show the character’s emotions or reactions. In a shot list, a point of view shot is often abbreviated as POV.
9. Audio used
Next up is the audio column. This is used to display how you will be picking up audio in the shot. Examples of audio would be voiceover, Boom, lav, shotgun, etc.
10. Lens needed
The lens column is to simply list the type of lens needed. I.e. 24mm, 50mm, and so forth.
11. Time estimate
This column is to list the time it will take to set up the shot. This is for the setup only, not the time it will take to shoot.
The time estimate is beneficial to build out your daily schedule and highlight any setups that take too long.
This column is to highlight which camera or cameras you’ll be using for the shot.
13. Cast used
The cast used column is to show which cast members will be used in the shot.
14. Your best take
Your best take column is there to show which take was the best in the shot and mark down the best shot’s timecode.
This is great for the editing team as they’ll know which shots to check out first in post-production to ensure your film gets the preferred shots used.
In summary, a shot list is an essential tool for any filmmaker and helps to ensure that all the necessary shots are captured during filming. By including different types of shots in a shot list, filmmakers can create a visually interesting and engaging film.
How to Create a Shot List in 5 Steps
A shot list is an important document for film production as it ultimately saves time and money. It is also critical to the creative side of film production as it allows you to choose what angles, movements, and setups will bring out the plot and tell the story uniquely and imaginatively.
Shot composition is fundamental and will help you tell your story uniquely and powerfully.
You will take the above elements (What does a shot list include? The key elements of a shot list) and use our shot list (Download Here) document to help you create a shot list for your latest film.
Your crew will automatically know what they need to do for each scene and shot within the scene.
Here is how to create a shot list:
- Pick a scene from your script, the elements listed above will have their own columns, and each shot will have its own row.
- Next you’ll breakdown how you want to capture each shot within the scene. You will use different camera angles, shot types, movement and placement to tell the story in your own unique way.
- Now you can give each shot a unique number. This starts at 1. Creating a new row every time you film a new shot.
- Make sure you cover every part of the scene off with it’s own unique shot.
- Draw sketches or use a storyboard to help bring each shot to life. This will help you visualise each shot and bring your story to life.
A shot list template
Here is our shot list template for you to freely copy and download! It’s simple and easy to use. Simply click the download button today and make a copy. Then all you need to do is add your own personal assets to it and you are ready to build out your list.
An example of a shot list
Below is an example of a shot list, which you can use below. Simply follow the rules above in “How to create a shot list,” and you’ll complete one in no time.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Creating a Shot List
There are some common mistakes that filmmakers make when creating a shot list. Let’s discuss these mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Not Being Specific Enough
One of the biggest mistakes that filmmakers make when creating a shot list is not being specific enough. It’s important to be as detailed as possible when creating your shot list. Include information such as the camera angle, lens type, and any specific movements that need to be captured. Being specific will help ensure that you get the shots you need and that your film turns out the way you envisioned it.
2. Not Considering the Location
Another mistake that filmmakers make is not considering the location when creating their shot list. It’s important to take into account the location where you will be filming and how that will affect your shots. For example, if you are filming in a small room, you may need to use a wide-angle lens to capture all the action. On the other hand, if you are filming outdoors, you may need to use a telephoto lens to capture distant subjects.
3. Not Prioritizing Shots
When creating a shot list, it’s important to prioritize your shots. You should identify the shots that are most important to the story and make sure that you capture those shots first. This will help ensure that you have the footage you need, even if you run out of time or encounter unexpected problems.
4. Not Communicating with Your Team
Finally, it’s important to communicate with your team when creating a shot list. Make sure that everyone on your team understands the shots that need to be captured and how they should be captured. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the filming process goes smoothly.
In conclusion, creating a shot list is an important part of the filmmaking process. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can create a shot list that will help you capture the footage you need and tell your story effectively.
The Role of Shot Lists in Film Production
By now you understand that it’s a comprehensive list of all the shots that need to be captured during principal photography. Shot lists help keep every production organized, from big Hollywood blockbusters to small indie films. They serve as a kind of checklist, providing the project with a sense of direction and preparedness for the film crew.
A shot list explains everything that happens in a scene by breaking down the shots necessary to capture it. It is a collaborative process between the director and the director of photography (DoP) as they brainstorm the best way to visually tell the story. The more detailed the shot list is, the easier it will be for the camera department to capture the shots as intended.
Shot lists are guidelines on a technical level, laying out every detail, angle, and shot size needed to tell the story. They help the director and DoP communicate their creative vision to every crew member. By having a clear plan of what shots are needed, the crew can work more efficiently and effectively, saving time and money.
Shot lists also help with continuity during the editing process. By having a detailed plan of what shots are needed, the editor can ensure that the shots match and flow seamlessly, creating a cohesive and polished final product.
Shot lists help keep the production organized, save time and money, and ensure that the creative vision is communicated effectively to the entire crew.
The Final Cut
Shot lists are an important part of pre-production but ultimately help the flow and creativity of your film shoots. No matter how small your production is, a shot list will help you picture each shot and get a timeframe per shoot day that you and your crew can stick to.
To sum it up, a shot list doesn’t have to be fancy, it can be a couple of columns and rows, with sketches to envisage your shot. But, it is necessary to have one to have a productive filming day.
We hope this article on shot lists was useful to you. Let us know what other filmmaking articles and resources you’d like us to write below. In the meantime, here are a few handy topics to help you with your filmmaking journey below.