How to Film a Movie: Camera Choice and Framing

Posted on: by BobbyH

Every shot in your film should advance the story – no ifs, ands or buts. You can convey a lot of meaning inside of a classic “two shot” (a shot with two people as the main focus) without your actors having to say anything. It is all based on how you position them next to each other as well as within the frame. This is known as “blocking.” There are a couple of different styles when considering how to film a movie, and each has its appropriate uses when you’re learning how to film a movie.

Intimate Blocking – By placing your actors close together, their proximity to each other generates a clear feeling of intimacy within the frame. Below is an example of Katniss and Peeta’s budding romance from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (courtesy of panemproppaganda.com):

EverlarkBeachScene

Distant Blocking – On the other hand, you can’t expect two people on opposite sides of a room with a curtain in between to convince the audience that they are falling madly in love. Their positioning creates distance between them. Distant Blocking is usually reserved for the likes of a dramatic moment. The polarity of the image ups the tension. Below is an example of Katniss and Peeta when they are first reaped for the Hunger Games (courtesy of aworldoftales.com):

HG Reaping

Your coverage of the scene means which shots you select to shoot. It is important to have an eye-pleasing variety and avoid boring back-and-forth exchanges. You want to use the camera to create a dramatic feeling, whether it is love or distance. Our conduit to communicate these feelings is our lens choice and how we use them, so choose wisely. While you study how to film a movie, it might not be a bad idea to go through some of your favorite films and see what they did to understand their shot and lens choice.

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Written by BobbyH

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