Most directors create a “shot list” prior to filming their movie. In essence, a shot list determines how a camera is set-up and utilized during the filming of scenes. There is no one way to create a shot list and I’m sure every director has his/her own method.
To begin with, every time the camera is set-up or used in a new or different way, that constitutes a new “shot.” For instance, a movie might start with a shot of a man’s shaky hand, then cut to a new shot revealing a groom standing at the altar. So, basically, a shot list covers camera angles, camera movement, camera distance from key subjects, and the type of camera lens used.
Here is a sequence of shots from my short film, Fade to Red:
You can see the camera has moved in some way, shape or form in-between each shot above.
And here is an actual page of my shot list from my short film, First Light (Note: WS = Wide Shot & MCU = Medium Close-Up):
As you can see above, I also include notes regarding the actors’ performance and blocking in my shot list.
Overall, my shot list for Girlfriend 19, is going very well and is near completion. The most difficult part for me is fighting cliché. It’s tempting to fall back on shots that have traditionally been used and that convey a particular meaning. Though I will utilize such shots often, I generally want to challenge myself to pick shots more intentionally, which will convey ideas and evoke moods more effectively.
In the end, every shot in a film must be intentional and well directed!
And if you’re interested, here is a link to watch my film, Fade to Red.