Tag Archives: film directing tips

Directing A Dialogue Scene

How to Direct A Dialogue Scene

Shooting a dialogue scene can be a chalanging task. You need to make the text interesting even if it’s not. There are several techniques to use that will make that happen and I will explain them here.

 

A dialogue scene starts with the subtext

Before planning a dialogue scene, you need to understand the subtext of the scene. A Subtext is a content that is not said directly by the characters, but it exists in the observer perception of the scene. sometimes it’s in the observer’s subconscious and he even not aware of that.  The subtext of the scene should be drowned from the film’s premise.

All the great dialogue scenes show that, but here is a great example for a subtext in a scene. Look at the funny trick Woody Allen uses to show us what the characters are really thinking

Plan your shooting script

When shooting a dialogue scene you should plan the shooting script, so it will express the subtext of the scene and the dialogue in it. Read my post on types of camera shots to understand the psychology behind each shot.

The classic way to shoot a dialogue scene is to start with an establishing shot, to let the audience know where the characters are placed. Then you’ll need to break the scene into the shots you think are right for the scene.  A very popular shot on dialogue scene is Over The Shoulder because it shows us the character that talks and the reactions of the characters that’s listening. When shooting Over The Shoulder shots you might want to use the Depth of Feild technique. You want the focus to be on the talking character so the shoulder of the character that listens should be a bit blur and to take only one-third of the frame.

Here is a great scene that is built in a classic way

https://youtu.be/F-bsf2x-aeE

Quick tip

When the dialogue is important and you want the audience to focus on what the characters are saying, keep the shots simple as you can, while staying loyal to your story’s premise

Use inter-cuts

Think about the inter-cuts you want to add to the scene, if you want to give the editor maximum flexibility to work with. The inter-cuts can be Close-ups on the listening characters, their hands (if they’re doing something that is important to the scene), their eyes, objects on the set & etc. Of course, when using intercuts you should think how are they contribute to the scene and its subtext.

Use the master shot technique

The master scene technique is a method used by lots of directors. What you do is shooting the whole scene in wide angle from the start to the end and then you start shooting all the inter-cuts. This way if one of the cuts you shot didn’t go well, you can always come back to the master shot. I recommend reading my post on The master scene method to learn how to do it well.

Think about how you want to edit the dialogue scene

You should also think about the editing of the scene.  If it’s a quick paced editing then the shooting script should take it under consideration. If needed, consult with your video editor as to understand what he needs to get the kind of editing you are planning for the scene.

 plan which lenses you want to use

The lenses you’ll choose for the scene will affect the emotion the audience gets from the scenes. There are many types of lenses, and you need to consult with your cinematographer what he prefers. Many like to use the Zoom lenses because you can play with their focal lengths in different ways. They are great for documentary films and action scenes. Cannon has some pretty good zoom lenses.  The most popular lenses to shoot with are the prime lenses. They are very affordable compared to others and very sharp. They are also good to shoot in low light locations. Personally, I like to use the Rokinon Cine Lenses, but there are many others.

Make the dialogue scene entertaining

The planning of the shooting should also take into consideration the length of the scene and it’s atmosphere. For example, if we are shooting a long dialogue scene, then maybe we’ll want to move the camera during the dialogue. Moving the camera can be done handheld or with a steady cam or even with a dolly. another way is to shoot it all in one take without any camera movement. That’s a less interesting way to shoot, but sometimes it will fit better to the atmosphere of your scene.

Blocking for dialogue scene

Blocking is planning where the actors are going to be in the scene and their movements inside the scene. When blocking a dialogue scene, you need first to understand the subtext of the dialogue. For example, if the characters lines mean they are getting closer to each other, they can show it by walking towards each other. If one character fears the other, it can walk away. Making your characters stand and not move at all, can also have subtext meanings in it. When you plan the blocking you should use the mindset of a choreographer.  Think about all the elements in the scene and how you can use them to express the subtext of the dialogue.

 

 

Film Directing – The Triple Take Method


Shooting With The Triple Take Method

A few weeks ago we’ve talked about the Master scene method. Now I want to teach you another film directing technique called “The Triple Take method” and sometimes also called “The Overlapping Method”. It’s a very easy method and the purpose of this directing method is to cut in action while maintaining continuity.

film directors books_00000

The triple take method is a great method especially when working without a script and for documentaries, but also great for scripted scenes.

How does the film directing technique works?

The main idea here is to start each shot with the last action of the shot before it, so those two actions are now overlapping. Let’s say you have a scene where the actor is opening his house door, entering his home, walking to the TV, opening it and sits on his couch. You will shoot him opening the door and getting inside the house in one angle, then you want to shoot him walking to the TV in a different angle, so you tell the actor to stop, change the angle and now you will shoot him walking towards the TV, but the actor will to go a few steps backwards and start the shot from the part of stepping inside the house, so you will have that action in both angles. Now he is walking to the TV and you want to shoot the part where he turns it on in a different angle, so again, he will take a few steps back and play the action including turning the TV on. Now we want the part of him sitting on the couch in a different angle, so we’ll tell the actor to stop, we’ll change the angle and tell him to start from the part of turning the TV on (which we already filmed in the angle before).
Click Here to Buy From Amazon

Like this tip? Click here to tweet it

As I said it’s a very simple method, but I would shoot also a master scene to make sure the editor will have somewhere to turn to if something went wrong and we didn’t notice. Also, remember it’s a very technically scene that might be hard for the actor to work with, so don’t use it on emotional scenes.

Best Online Filmmaking Courses

Film Directing- The Master Scene Method

Using The Master Scene Technique

The Master scene method is the first tool you’ll use when you approach a scene. No matter how much you’ve worked on your shooting script, there is always something that can go wrong on set and you’ll miss it . The master shot technique method comes to the rescue in such cases.

film directors books_00000

The master scene method is one of the films directing fundamentals techniques that began during the silent movies in the 20’s. It was a time when video editing wasn’t as easy as it is now.

The Master shot method means to shoot the whole scene in one long take in a wide angle ( See types of shots article) with all its important elements and then you can move on to shoot the coverage shots like the over the shoulder, medium shots, close-ups etc.

Now,

In the editing room, if you find you missed a shot, you can go to this cover shot to the rescue.

Master shot method tip
When shooting a scene in a room, the master shot will usually be in the opposite corner. If you are shooting outside, just look for the farthest spot that will cover everything in the shot.

Click Here to Buy From Amazon

A few tips about working with master scene method

Before I’ll tell you how to do this the right way, here are some tips you need to know:

  • Start the shooting with the master shot before the coverage shots to prevent problems in the continuity of the scene.

  • When a scene is too long or has a complex movement, it is recommended to break the Master shots into 2 masters.

  • Watch for the 180-degree rule (see rules of the camera) while you shoot the master and the coverage.

  • When you plan the shooting script breakdown, think about the time it will take to change the lightning from the master shot to the coverage shots.

  • Make sure you start the shot from the beginning of the scene until the ending of it.

  • Master shot method can also be used to add a certain atmosphere.

When this method is done properly, the audience will barely feel it was made to cover faults.

Shooting in one take is not as hard as it sounds

Don’t waste too much time on it. It’s not a big deal if the actors make mistakes. It all If an actor gets confused in the middle of the scene, you can take the second take from that point.

So this is a very basic but useful film technique that is used a lot in Film directing.

I recommend to read also about The Triple- Take Technique.

Recommended books on film directing