Shooting a location

You will need to film places, both indoors and outdoors.

The good news is that there is a simple formula to follow.

Look at the clip below. It’s the opening section of an item about a football club in Newport, which is struggling because people aren’t allowed to go to watch games at the moment.

What do you notice about the pictures?

  • The sequence is 14 seconds long and there are five shots.
  • The shots are handheld, but steady. There are no camera moves, like pans, or zooms, or tilts.
  • The shots all show different aspects of the football ground. They are all shots of the same place.
  • But they are filmed from different angles.
  • And they are different sizes. Some shots are wides, some are medium in size and others are close-ups.

So what might the formula be?

  • No need to move the camera.
  • Keep shots steady.
  • Film the same place using different shot sizes and different angles.
  • All the shot sizes are important, but it’s particularly important to get lots of close-ups.
  • A good ratio to aim for might be 10 shots, with two wide, two medium and six close-ups. (Obviously, you might need to get more shots, depending on how important the location is to the story.)

Here’s another example. This time, JOMEC, shot handheld on my iPhone and edited on VideoShop.

  • Again, a range of shot sizes and angles. No great close-ups, unfortunately.
  • JOMEC is quite hard to film at the moment because of the road works in front of the building.
  • Having people in shots of a location makes it more interesting. There aren’t many people around right now.
  • Each shot was filmed for ten seconds or a little longer if somebody was moving through the frame. Average length of edited shot is five seconds or so.
  • I shot around ten shots and have used half of them. Total duration is 25 seconds, which at three words a second, would give me 75 words of script. Minus five seconds to let the pictures breathe and I now have 60 words to play with. That’s plenty.

Activity: Go and shoot a couple of locations. They can be outdoors or indoors. Try to film a variety of shot sizes and angles. Get some good close-ups. Aim for 10-15 shots for each location.

Activity: Imagine you’re making a TV package about JOMEC and these are your opening shots. Try writing a twenty second (sixty word) script. Research some interesting facts about the place and write them in a conversational, broadcast style. Good practice!

This is a nice location sequence, shot by @lilyford__

Here’s another example. This time an interior location. A classroom in China. The rules don’t change. Different shot sizes; different angles. I’ve edited this long so that you can see more shots. In reality you are very unlikely to have a 45 second sequence of shots in a TV package. Notice again that I have used a variety of shot sizes and angles, with quite a few close ups.