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The Directors Plan

Lesson 1
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Lesson 2
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Lesson 3
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Lesson 4
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Lesson 5
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Lesson 6
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Lesson 7
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Lesson 8
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Lesson 9
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Lesson 10
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Contributed By Glen Berry

  1. We cannot shoot everything
  2. The Director must have a refined vision
  3. Provide the editor with coverage

So how do we, as directors, plan that transition and give our editors an opportunity to transition between shots? The first step is to find the moments in the scene where you will need each shot and when we will not need each shot.

Let’s look at a visual representation of the scene to get an idea of how we can identify where we will need each shot. Below is a diagram of the dramatic curve, which you should already be familiar with from lesson one.

A sample shot list has been added to the left of the dramatic curve to represent all of the angles we have selected to shoot a theoretical dialogue scene between two characters; Joe and Mary. We have seven angles on our two subjects: a wide shot to establish the space and the characters, a 2S to bring us in closer to the action, a medium shot on each subject, a close-up on each subject for the climax of the scene and a cutaway to a document that plays into their conversation.

The diagram shows 100% coverage on all angles. The orange line represents the beginning and end of the shot. In this representation, we are shooting the entire scene from all angles. At any given time, the editor has a choice of seven different options on all action. This is great for the editor but totally unnecessary. It is overkill and demonstrates a lack of vision and direction on the part of the director. In this example, you are throwing nearly all decision-making off to the editor. Not only that, you will be wasting a bunch of time and testing the patience of your crew and actors.


  • The director cannot shoot all angles. It will wear out the cast and crew, waste time and kill morale. The director must have a vision.
  • The director must know all angles and perspectives and make decisions about what parts of the scene to cover from which angles.
  • Give the editor options by covering the action in the scene from more than one angle.
Shot Vocabulary
Descriptions of shot vocabulary.
Creating your Shot List
How to approach creating your shot list from a script, creating the first visualization
Scene Analysis
An analysis of a scene from "A Fistful of Dollars".
The Directors Plan
The director's plan for covering the emotional content and action in the scene without shooting unnecessary footage.
The Hierarchy of Edits
Taking shot transitions into account when shot planning, providing the editor with opportunities to create invisible edits.