Changelings Update #3 – Shot Lists and Plans

Changelings Med Update.png

I’ve restarted my shot listing, which for a project of this magnitude is not an unimportant task.

Changelings shot list in progress.

Sometimes you can wing a scene because that’s the vibe or you have absolutely no time to execute what you were hoping for, but Changelings is a little different.

I’ve made a few films now, along with my ten – only eight survived – episode web series, Milkshake. I have enough confidence, that if given a scene on the spot, I could probably figure out how to make it work aesthetically and performance wise given the constraints, but Changelings has to be next level. I need to plan, plan, plan, even though those plans might have to get thrown out.

The more intimately aware of my own project I am, the better I can perform with or without a plan, but a plan is what I want to execute.

My last film, I Love you, had a meticulous shot list. Below are a few screenshots of a few pages from my shot list packet, which totaled 19 pages in length.

I Love You shot list legend.
I originally wanted to spend only one day shooting but realized that would be impossible with 59 setups.
Instead of hiring a storyboard artist to render my shots, I used my 5DIII to take the approximate shot in advance with the focal length I was thinking of using. This was very helpful for my DP.
My actors needed to cross the 180 degree line at some point during the chase, so it was important to plan how that would work out. I don’t like jumping the 180 line unless there’s seriously good motivation for doing it.

In any case, my takeaway from this process was that I need to continue being as meticulous as I was with I Love You. I had designed shot lists before, but by taking my 5D out and precomposing the shots myself, I could really convey what I wanted to my DP without ambiguity.

So now with the Changelings shot list under development, I have to remind myself to not cut corners early in the process. Simply writing down my shot list is not going to cut it. I’ve got to not only plan, plan plan… but also pre-visualize more than I ever have.

So far, I’ve only got the first scene designed. You can see in the text of the screenshots, I’ve begun incorporating The Tare into the story. The crack in the sky bits are new. The world is taking shape, even as I do the shot lists. New ideas are revealing themselves to me as I visualize the totality of the world in relation to this particular story within the world of The Tare.

I wish I could reveal more about what The Tare is, but I have to stay silent on it for now. Need to leave some mysteries for you loyal readers.

For this first scene, I’m to hide Father Smith’s face for a bit to let the tone of the piece settle into place. With The Tare hanging over the scene, it should feel unearthly and foreboding. I imagine using slow zooms – much like they did in the 1970’s – to convey unease, disorientation and pressure.

Only when Father Smith turns to look at The Tare do we reveal his face. We need the characters to acknowledge the weirdness happening in the frame. It has to affect our characters and hang over them like some Damocles Sword. Maybe I’ll even thrown in a macro shot of Father Smith’s eye and see the Tare reflected in them.

In fact, let’s add that shot right now!

I Love You turned out very close to how I imagined it. By sticking to my plan and not free-forming it at every opportunity, like Milkshake, I came away much happier with not only the final product but the process as well.

More updates to come. I’ll have the Fundition page up as soon as I have my sizzle shot for the piece, which is going to be a whole different animal with it’s own crazy shot list. In the meantime, I’ll keep updating you on the shot list and my process.

Phil out


If you want to know who I am and what Distant Signal is, check this out. It’s sort of a manifesto. The TL;DR is that I’ve won an award for producing, make a lot of reality TV, live in LA and think that artist and media incentives are misaligned and serve large corporations and not independent artists.
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In 2019 the goal is to produce the short horror film, Changelings, the world of that story and to build a community of filmmakers that are enthusiastic about filmmaking and crypto currency.